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First look: Colorado at Washington State

UPDATED: Mon., Oct. 14, 2019

Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Steven Montez (12) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Boulder, Colo. Arizona won 35-30. (David Zalubowski / AP)
Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Steven Montez (12) in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019, in Boulder, Colo. Arizona won 35-30. (David Zalubowski / AP)

What is it? Washington State (3-3, 0-3) looks for an ever-elusive first Pac-12 Conference win when it hosts Colorado (3-3, 1-2) in the Homecoming game.

Where is it? Martin Stadium in Pullman.

When is it? Kickoff is 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Where can I watch it? The game will air on the Pac-12 Networks.

Who is favored? WSU opened as a 12 ½-point favorite.

How did they fare last week? Both the Buffaloes and Cougars lost Pac-12 games away from home. Colorado was pummeled by then-13th-ranked Oregon, while Washington State dropped a 38-34 decision at Arizona State despite leading early.

Why Colorado will win: If you subtract Colorado’s most recent game, against an Oregon team that’s boasted the conference’s best defense, the Buffaloes have shown an ability to put points on the board against everyone they’ve played. Before the loss to the Ducks, they were averaging 34.6 points per game. A running back has emerged for Colorado, Alex Fontenot, who’s up to 463 rushing yards and four touchdowns through five games, but more concerning for WSU will be all the receiving threats the Cougars’ struggling seconday has to account for. Laviska Shenault Jr. still may be the most talented receiver in Boulder, but he’s far from the only capable pass-catcher on CU’s roster. In fact, Shenault Jr. (17 catches, 226 yards), who missed one game because of injury, is only third on the receiving chart , behind Tony Brown (29 catches, 442 yards) and K.D. Nixon (18 catches, 302 yards).

Why WSU will win: Much as the Cougars have struggled against the pass, the Buffaloes aren’t any better. If you include nonconference games, Colorado actually ranks one spot lower than WSU when it comes to passing defense, at 307.2 yards per game allowed. And now the Buffs have to face the nation’s top passing attack, on the road no less. The Cougars are the only team in the country throwing for more than 400 yards per game, at 452.7, and Anthony Gordon’s 25 touchdowns rank second nationally , behind only Alabama starter and Heisman Trophy runner-up Tua Tagovailoa. And wide receivers? Those will be a headache for Colorado’s defensive backs, much as they’ll be for WSU’s. Easop Winston Jr.’s nine TD receptions are tied for most in the conference and the redshirt senior is one of eight WSU players with at least 200 receiving yards – the others being Dezmon Patmon, Brandon Arconado, Travell Harris, Max Borghi, Renard Bell, Rodrick Fisher and Tay Martin.

What happened last time: Eight days before Colorado parted ways with former coach Mike MacIntyre, the Cougars blew out the Buffaloes 31-7 at Folsom Field. Gardner Minshew famously slapped a fake mustache onto WSU coach Mike Leach during the postgame interview, after completing 35 of 58 passes for 335 yards and two touchdowns to extend the Cougars’ winning streak to six games. Dezmon Patmon led WSU’s receivers with eight catches for 103 yards. Sixth-year senior linebacker Peyton Pelluer tied the school record for career games played, appearing in his 51st, and WSU’s defense matched the offense, holding the Buffaloes to a single touchdown while forcing four turnovers. Jahad Woods led the Cougars with five tackles and forced a pair of fumbles, recovering one of those himself.

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