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WSU at Colorado

Tue., Sept. 27, 2011

Time: 12:30 p.m. PDT Saturday, Folsom Field, Boulder, Colo.

TV: FCS Pacific

Records: WSU (2-1, 0-0 in Pac-12); Colorado (1-3, 0-0)

Last week: WSU had a bye; lost at San Diego State 42-24 on Sept. 17. Colorado lost at Ohio State, 37-17.

Last time: Colorado defeated WSU in Seattle, 20-12, in 2004

The line: Colorado by 3

What it means for WSU: This is it for the Cougars. The start of a nine-game conference schedule that should get progressively tougher as it wears on. As the betting line shows, this is a toss-up game, giving WSU a chance to prove it has improved over last year’s model. There are danger signs, though. The Cougars won’t go into the game with a full compliment of weapons, as quarterback Jeff Tuel will still not be available. And the Buffaloes have been relatively stout on defense, yielding 323 yards a game, 34th in the nation.

What it means for Colorado: The Buffs scoff at a measly nine-week stretch of games. They are in the midst of a 13-week season without a bye. Last week, there was the painful defeat in Columbus, one made all that much easier for the Buckeyes by the Buffs’ awful play on special teams. Thanks to errors in the punting and kickoff game, along with turnovers, the longest Ohio State scoring drive was 50 yards, with three 11 yards or less. Saturday’s game is also Colorado’s inaugural Pac-12 contest, and who wants to start a new era with a defeat?

Key matchup: Colorado receiver Paul Richardson vs. WSU’s secondary.

Richardson was a relative unknown on the West Coast until catching 11 passes for 282 yards in a nonconference game against California three weeks ago. The school yardage record also made him a marked man. Since the Buffs’ 33-30 overtime loss, Richardson has caught eight passes for 55 yards – and no scores. With senior running back Rodney Stewart and the running game struggling (105th in the nation), stopping Richardson has a way of stopping the CU offense. But WSU hasn’t been all that successful limiting opponent’s passing games, giving up 763 yards in three games and ranking 92nd out of 120 FBS schools in per-game average.

Vince Grippi

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