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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 22, 4:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Martin Stadium (33,522) -- Pullman, Washington. Television: FX. Home Record: Colorado 0-1, Washington State 1-0. Away Record: Colorado 0-1, Washington State 1-1. Neutral Record: Colorado 0-1, Washington State 0-0. Conference Record: Colorado 0-0, Washington State 1-1. Series Record: Colorado leads, 4-3.
GAME NOTES: In a game that marks the Pac-12 conference opener for both teams, the Colorado Buffaloes will travel to Martin Stadium to take on the Washington State Cougars this Saturday.
Colorado has had a forgettable first three weeks of the season. The Buffaloes lost by a combined seven points in their first two games but were not nearly as competitive in a 69-14 dismantling at the hands of Fresno State last weekend. The now 0-3 Buffaloes allowed 35 points and 322 yards in the first quarter which were both program-highs. Colorado has begun the season 0-3 for the first time since 2006, a year they finished a mere 2-10.
On the other side Washington State is in the midst of the first winning streak of the Mike Leach era with consecutive wins entering play. The Cougars had the best offensive game of the young season in a 35-27 win over UNLV in week three with 461 total yards as a squad. The Cougars had scored only 30 total points in the first two games of the season combined.
Washington State could pull even in the all-time series with a win in this matchup. Currently Colorado holds the edge with four wins in seven total meetings. The Cougars won last year's contest in Boulder 31-27 on a 63-yard game winning touchdown pass from Marshall Lobbestael to Marquess Wilson.
There was not a lot of positives to be taken away on either side of the ball from the loss to Fresno State by Colorado. While the Bulldogs racked up points and yards, the Buffaloes continually stalled, managing only 278 yards of total offense. Colorado's first drive ended with an interception and the next seven ended in punts while the Bulldogs scored a touchdown on six of their first seven possessions.
Three different quarterbacks took snaps for the Buffaloes in the game and none of those three were able to find much success. The trio of Connor Wood, Jordan Webb and Nick Hirschman combined to complete 11-of-30 passes, for 173 yards, while being picked off four times. Colorado is currently ranked second to last in the conference in passing yards (548) with Oregon State which has played only one game the only team below it.
Running the ball has also been a weak point for an offense that is scoring only 19.7 points per game. Entering play the Buffaloes have managed only 316 yards on the ground. Josh Ford rushed for 60 yards on 10 carries and scored a touchdown last time out. All 60 of the yards came on a 64-yard drive by Colorado in the fourth quarter.
Even with the passing game limited Tyler McCulooch had a solid game catching the ball, with three receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown.
It wasn't just in the first quarter that Colorado was burned for program records in yards allowed. The Buffaloes surrendered 516 total yards and 300 through the air in the first half alone, which both set school records. The defense also allowed two plays of over 90 yards, one of which, a 97-yard pass, marking the second-longest play from scrimmage allowed by a Colorado defense in program history.
With Fresno State piling up yards in bunches the secondary had a busy day for Colorado. Terrell Smith and Jon Major tied for a team lead with six tackles each and Marques Mosley had four tackles, one for loss and an interception in the game.
Even with starting quarterback Jeff Tuel sidelined with an injury the Washington State offense was able to have its most successful game in the win over UNLV. The Cougars finished with 461 total yards, including 378 yards through the air.
Tuel's replacement, Connor Halliday, filled in well enough, completing 26 of-45 passes for 378 yards and four scores, although he was picked off twice. Wilson finally looked like the receiver that finished with 1,388 yards last season. The junior wideout caught five passes for 110 yards and two scores, while Gabe Marks (six receptions, 126 yards, TD) was also an important part of the passing game.
The Cougars are not an offense that will run the ball very often as they are currently the only team with fewer rushing yards on the season than Colorado in the Pac-12. Carl Winston's 58 yards on 12 carries led the team in the win over UNLV.
Defense was a different story for the Cougars, who allowed almost as many yards (460) as the offense gained. The Cougars also allowed the Rebels to convert 9-of-17 third down attempts and is currently ranked above only Colorado in the Pac-12 in yards allowed per game (451.7) this season. That includes a conference-worst pass defense, which has allowed 1.033 yards thus far.
Darryl Monroe led the team with 10 total tackles in the win over UNLV, but Travis Long had the most impressive game. The senior linebacker matched a career-high with nine tackles and also recorded a pair of sacks.
In a game that matches up two squads that look destined to wind up in the Pac-12 cellar this season, it will be the continued progress of Washington State's offense that will prove to be the difference. If the Cougars take another step forward in Leach's system they should score plenty against a weak Colorado defense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Washington State 37, Colorado 23
09/19 10:43:26 ET