No. 21 CU at USC
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
TV/radio: Pac-12 Network / 850 AM, 94.1 FM
After sitting out two games with a sprained right ankle, Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau said he's ready to play.
His coach, however, is not quite ready to make that declaration.
"I believe so," Liufau said when asked Tuesday if his right ankle is 100 percent healed. "I do feel ready to perform, but with that being said, going into this week, take it one day at a time and see how things go and we'll see what happens Saturday."
On Saturday, the 21st-ranked Buffaloes (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) will visit Southern California (2-3, 1-2) and it's still not known whether Liufau will return to the lineup or if redshirt freshman Steven Montez will make his third consecutive start.
"We're going to play it out through the week, and then see how healthy Sefo is," head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "It'll really be a game-time decision again on how we do it all."
Liufau sprained his ankle on Sept. 17 at Michigan and hasn't played since. If he is completely ready to go, it appears that he'll return to the lineup, as MacIntyre said Liufau's health is the "biggest key" to the decision.
"It all depends on his health, and if he's ready to go we'll be ready to play him," MacIntyre said.
While Liufau said he feels 100 percent, MacIntyre said he's not so sure.
"He's the toughest sucker in the building," MacIntyre said. "He's going to say that no matter what. He said that two weeks ago. The trainers will evaluate it, we'll evaluate it, he'll evaluate it and we'll make sure. I don't want put him out there if he's not fully ready to go."
To Liufau's credit, he doesn't appear to be rushing himself back into action like he has done in the past. He's played through pain during his career, sometimes not letting coaches and trainers know how sore he felt.
Liufau has taken a more cautious approach to this injury, however, and allowed trainers to work with him to get healthy. He said it was tough to even walk two weeks ago and it was "a big problem" dropping back in the pocket the week after the injury.
He has continued to practice more and more each day, however, and said he's able to run and cut like usual.
"When I plant and throw it feels great," he said. "Dropping back in the pocket feels great. To be able to do that now is a great feeling for me and a good step going forward."
While he maybe could have played through the injury, Liufau said he knows it was best for him to heal and let Montez lead the offense.
"He is playing at a very high level, but even if he wasn't playing as well, I don't think I would rush back because I wouldn't be able to perform," he said.
Before his injury, Liufau was in the midst of the best season of his career. He has completed 71.1 percent of his throws (54 of 76) for 768 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Liufau ranks seventh nationally in passer rating (182.0) and tied for 14th in total quarterback rating (QBR), at 81.0.
Montez, meanwhile, is 11th nationally in passer rating (174.7) and ninth in QBR (85.4) while leading the Buffs to a 2-0 record in his starts.
"I think Steven is a heck of a quarterback," MacIntyre said. "I feel like we can definitely win with Steven playing for us at quarterback against anybody we play."
They also feel they can win with Liufau, who is ready for the opportunity if it presents itself Saturday at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
"It's great to be able to do that again and come out here and practice with these guys," he said. "You never know how many days left you have, especially with college football. You don't have a lot of time left, so even if it's just practicing, you have to relish the moment."