Preview: Washington State at Colorado

When: 3:30 PM ET, Saturday, November 19, 2016
Where: Folsom Field, Boulder, Colorado


With only two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Pac-12 boasts a pair of surprising division leaders in Washington State and Colorado, and they’ll meet Saturday in Boulder as the 12th-ranked Buffaloes host the 20th-ranked Cougars. And the surprising part comes in when considering that these two programs owned the two worst win percentages – Colorado at .285 and Washington State at .333 – among Power Five schools over the previous decade (2006-15).



It even looked like it might be more of the same early on for Washington State as the Cougars dropped their first two games to Eastern Washington of the FCS and Boise State, but the Cougars have since reeled off eight straight wins and stand as the only unbeaten team in Pac-12 play. “Our team has elevated our excitement to play each week,” Washington State coach Mike Leach said Monday at his weekly news conference. “… If you can do that, it gets contagious among everybody. It’s not just the physical mentality but the mental mentality where it’s just fun to be a part of all that energy.” There’s also no shortage of energy and excitement in Boulder as Colorado checks in at No. 10 in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings after winning 14 games over the previous five seasons combined. “When you go through a couple of seasons where you're just getting worked over by everybody, you can feel it,” Colorado safety Ryan Moeller said in the team’s Tuesday news conference. “That feels like there's a big cloud over you, and that cloud is gone now.  Everyone is happy and they want to celebrate, but we haven't done anything just yet.”

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Colorado -4.5



ABOUT WASHINGTON STATE (8-2, 7-0 Pac-12): During their eight-game run, the Cougars have averaged 46.6 points per outing and their average margin of victory has been 25.8. It starts with junior quarterback Luke Falk who is tops nationally in completion percentage at 73.9, second in passing yards with 3,610 and is tied for fifth with 33 passing touchdowns, but he’ll be without second-leading receiver River Cracraft (53 catches-701 yards-five TDs) as the slot wideout after he suffered a season-ending torn ACL in the third quarter of last Saturday’s 56-21 win at California. Defensive end Hercules Mata’afa (11 tackles for loss) leads a defense which has been the conference’s best against the run at 116.9 yards allowed per game and ranks sixth in the league with 24.3 points surrendered per outing.

ABOUT COLORADO (8-2, 6-1): Quarterback Sefo Liufau did match his single-game season high last week with three TD passes in a 49-24 win at Arizona, but the senior also has had more miscues of late, throwing all three of his interceptions this season in the last two games. Liufau is surrounded by a talented cast headed by tailback Phillip Lindsay (third in the Pac-12 with 93.7 rushing yards per game) and speedy wideout Shay Fields (third in the conference with 71 receiving yards per outing). Defensively, outside linebacker Jimmie Gilbert (nine sacks, 11 tackles for losses) and a talented secondary star for a unit which leads the conference in scoring defense (17.9 points allowed), total defense (308.4 yards) and passing defense (176.9 yards).



EXTRA POINTS

1. Colorado holds a slight series edge at 5-4, but Washington State rolled to a 27-3 home win a season ago.

2. Cougars running backs lead the Pac-12 with a combined 2,299 total yards and 29 rushing/receiving touchdowns.

3. Liufau owns or shares 84 school passing records and is one TD pass away from tying Cody Hawkins for the program’s career lead with 60.



PREDICTION:  Colorado 31, Washington State 27


Stats and Records

Team Comparison

  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Washington State 8-2 W8 44.3 24.3 5-1 3-1 2-0 0-0 7-0
Colorado 8-2 W4 35.2 17.9 5-0 3-2 7-1 0-0 6-1

Last Meeting

Washington State Colorado
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
11/21/15 COLO 3 WSU 27 481 149 332 323 85 238

Player Stats

Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
WSU L. Falk 77.1 199 1 0
COLO C. Apsay 65.0 238 0 2
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
WSU G. Wicks 13 123 9.5 0
COLO P. Lindsay 16 78 4.9 0
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
WSU G. Marks 11 110 10.0 1
COLO N. Spruce 10 120 12.0 0
TDs Player TD
WSU K. Harrington 1
COLO M. Adkins II 0
Season
Passing Player COMP% YDS TD INT
WSU L. Falk 73.9 3610 33 6
COLO S. Liufau 67.2 1535 10 3
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
WSU J. Williams 82 515 6.3 6
COLO P. Lindsay 168 937 5.6 13
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
WSU G. Marks 68 709 10.4 12
COLO S. Fields 40 710 17.8 8
TDs Player TD
WSU G. Marks 12
COLO P. Lindsay 14

Quickchart Matchup

Washington State Off vs  Colorado Def
518.9 yards
307.5 yards
4.6 yards/rush
3.7 yards/rush
7.6 yards/attempt
5.5 yards/attempt
Colorado Off vs  Washington State Def
465.8 yards
388.9 yards
4.3 yards/rush
4 yards/rush
8.1 yards/attempt
7.7 yards/attempt

Matchup Stats - Full Matchup

Washington State Overall Colorado
8-2-0 W/L 8-2-0
6-4-0 ATS 9-1-0
6-4-0 O/U 4-6-0
44.3 Pts For 35.2
24.3 Pts Against 17.9
Washington State A/H Colorado
3-1 W/L 5-0
2-2-0 ATS 4-1-0
3-1-0 O/U 1-4-0
35.5 Pts For 41.4
27.5 Pts Against 9.2