Who would’ve thought at the start of the season that when Washington State and Colorado met up at this point in November that it would be one of the biggest games of the whole Pac-12 season to this point? Well when the Buffaloes come into the game ranked number 10 and the Cougars are number 22 and both teams control their own destiny to get to the conference championship, this is undoubtedly one of the biggest games of the conference season so far. This game is more important for Colorado because if Washington State loses the Apple Cup will still be for the North title, but Washington State would like to win this game to try and improve what kind of a bowl game they can get into.
Players to watch for the Buffaloes: It all starts with quarterback Sefo Liufau. He is the engine that makes the Colorado offense go. He is one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in the league but when he scrambles he looks to throw first before taking off and running, which makes him more difficult to stop. He is an accurate passer who does not turn the ball over very much. Phillip Lindsay is a very solid running back and is closing in on 1,000 yards on the year. He helps keep this offense balanced, and he is also a very good receiving threat out of the backfield. The Buffaloes don’t really have on stand out wide receiver, but Shay Fields, Devin Ross and Bryce Bobo make up one of the better receiving cores in the league, and it comes close to matching the talent level of the Washington State receivers. The Buffaloes also have a pretty good secondary that can match up well and give the Cougars receivers a pretty good challenge, and they are lead by all-conference level corner Chidobe Awuzie. He is one of the number of very long athletic defensive backs that the Buffaloes will feature in trying to slow down the Washington State passing attack.
Keys for Washington State: The key in this game even more than most weeks will be offensive balance. Like I mentioned above the Colorado secondary is very athletic and will present as much of a challenge for the Washington State receivers as anyone has all season. If they can establish a running game early in this game they can for the Buffaloes to bring a safety down into the box which will open up the passing game. The biggest key for the defense will be to keep Sefo Liufau in the pocket and make him beat them that way. He’s definitely capable of beating them in the pocket but if they allow him to break out of the pocket and scramble and allow his receivers more time to get open or to give him an opportunity to run it will be much harder to contain the Colorado offense. Going up against one of the best defenses in the conference it would also be beneficial if the defense can force some turnovers and give the offense a short field and essentially steal points in a game that is likely going to be close. The offensive line will need to keep Luke Falk off the ground. They’ve done a better job of that the last two weeks, but this defense they are going up against this week is much better than what Arizona and Cal are running out their for a defense. Keeping Falk clean and upright will go a long way in how well the offense can move the ball.
Other info: Colorado is six-point favorites and the over/under is set at 61. The weather is expected to be in the low 50’s with some clouds.