In anticipation of this Saturday’s game between Colorado and the No. 15 Washington Huskies, the CU Independent sports section gave their weekly score predictions as the two teams prepare for game day.
Alex Pepper, Sports Staff Writer: After failing their first true “test” of the season last week at USC, the Buffs fell out of the AP top 25 poll entirely and now sit at 5-1 on the season. An offense that previously looked so dangerous and dynamic looked sluggish, held in check by a physical, hard-hitting Trojan defense.
Junior quarterback Steven Montez even admitted that the Trojans basically had Colorado “figured out.” The Buffs looked pretty one-dimensional on Saturday as they tried to force the ball to Heisman candidate Laviska Shenault Jr., especially in the first half. This predictable play calling got Colorado in some trouble. Shenault was often stopped for negative yards after catching screens or other short routes, putting the Buffs in tough second-and-long and third-and-long situations. Shenault was battered by the USC defense, limping off the field on several occasions.
His status for Saturday is questionable with a toe injury. Whether he can play or not, Colorado needs to find a way to spread the ball around when they ship out to Seattle this weekend. The Buffs’ transparent approach to getting Shenault the ball didn’t work against USC, and it probably won’t work against a Washington team that has more experience playing good teams than Colorado does.
Washington will be playing this game with a vengeance, after suffering a tough OT loss to Oregon last week. Returning home and unsatisfied with their 5-2 record, the Huskies will surely come out firing on all cylinders trying to keep their Pac-12 championship hopes alive.
Score prediction: Washington 33, Colorado 20
Max Troderman, Sports Staff Writer: It’s a rematch of the Pac-12 championship game two years ago, with perhaps the hopes of attending another championship on the line. Both these teams are not used to losing — at least this season — and I’m sure that emotion will shine through for both teams. Since 1999, the Huskies have won every matchup versus the Buffs, going 8-0 against Colorado. While the Huskies did lose last week, they outgained the Ducks in yards (437-379) and rushing (194-177). In the end, turnovers are what truly made the difference. If UW can control the ball, they certainly have the skill to put up a hefty score against a fairly porous CU defense. Last week, CU broke down on both sides of the ball, especially on offense. The offensive line for the Buffs didn’t even look like it was there on most plays. Time and again, the Trojans easily stormed through the offensive line and pressured Montez who got sacked four times and threw an interception. The Buffs are going to have to make a lot of adjustments and come into the game completely healthy if they want to win. If Shenault stays out because of injury, the Buffs could be in some serious trouble.
Score prediction: Washington 42, Colorado 28
Zoe Collins Rath, Assistant Sports Editor: Everyone can agree that the Buffs did not play their best last weekend. At all. The Trojans read the Buffs like a book and gave them their first loss of the season. How the Buffaloes are going to bounce back from their loss will be important, especially against Washington, a team looking to bounce back also after losing to Oregon in OT last week. Colorado has something to prove, and the Huskies want to show that last week was a fluke by crushing the Buffs. The Huskies have the arsenal to do that, especially on offense.
Jake Browning, the Huskies’ senior quarterback, has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards so far this season and is leading the charge on offense along with tailback Myles Gaskin. This duo is Washington’s version of Montez and Shenault. These two are the bread and butter for the Huskies offense, and Gaskin is expected to play this Saturday after working through a shoulder injury. The Buffs are battling through their own injuries as well. Senior wideout Jay MacIntyre is dealing with a concussion, Laviska Shenault is day-to-day with a toe injury, and Jase Franke, a key defensive lineman, is putting back the pieces together as he deals with a torn ACL. The Buffs are banged up, and this Saturday is not going to be pretty.
Score prediction: Washington 45, Colorado 20
Scott MacDonald, Sports Staff Writer: After a disappointing loss to the USC Trojans last week, I’ve admittedly lost a little bit of confidence in this Buffaloes team. Considering USC is a wholly inferior team to the No. 15 Washington Huskies, this week could get a bit ugly.
Colorado’s defense did a solid job of stopping the Trojans’ self-proclaimed “Three-headed Monster” rushing attack, allowing only 55 total yards between the trio. Sure, the Buffs’ D, particularly its front seven, looked pretty solid. Now the Colorado secondary on the other hand, well that’s a whole different story.
Evan Worthington played well enough, but coverages by Dante Wigley and Nick Fisher were targeted and torched all game long. The aforementioned three CU DB’s that make up its secondary allowed multiple big plays and a total of 283 yards to USC’s receivers. It sure won’t get easier this week when that very same secondary is forced to cover passes thrown by Browning.
Browning has thrown for 9,104 career passing yards, the second-most among a returning player in the FBS, and his 78 career touchdown passes are the most in the country, as well as a Huskies school record. So best of luck, Buffs!
As for Colorado’s offense, it certainly wasn’t anything special against USC. Senior tailback Travon McMillian averaged only 1.8 yards per carry, his lowest of the season, and Montez threw for only 170 yards, his second-lowest total and completed just 55.3 percent of his passes, his lowest percentage all season. Unfortunately for those two and the rest of the Buffs offense, Washington ranks very well in team defense.
The Huskies’ passing defense ranks 15th in the nation with just 178.6 yards allowed per game and its total defense ranks 17th with 315.1 total yards allowed per game. The secondary in Seattle is very solid, sporting the likes of Byron Murphy, who K.D. Nixon called “the No. 1 DB in college football,” and Taylor Rapp, who Buffs fans should know well from the Pac-12 Championship game of 2016, where Rapp picked off then-Buffaloes’ quarterback Sefo Liufau twice en route to being named the game’s MVP.
The Buffs may have the heart, but the Huskies have the talent. Based on what I saw against USC last week, I don’t have much confidence in Colorado this week against the No. 15 Huskies.
Score prediction: Washington 34, Colorado 17
Justin Guerriero, Head Sports Editor: Wow, gang! I’m loving your collective optimism heading into Saturday’s game. I’ll admit that the odds are against the Buffs, but I can see Colorado marching into Husky Stadium and leaving with a victory.
For that to happen, first and foremost, offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini has to be more willing to change up the play calling if necessary. Last week against Southern Cal was at times painful to watch. The Trojans’ defense was more than ready for repeated handoffs to McMillian and endless short passes.
Colorado’s offense cannot afford to be conservative in this game. It will need to take shots deep downfield at leisure. The Buffs’ offensive line also must be exponentially better. If it fails as epically as it did versus USC, fans should expect a repeat of last Saturday’s game, full with the same offensive ineptitude.
Finally, Colorado’s front seven MUST find a way to pressure Browning and disrupt his ability to throw the ball in a picturesque pocket. The Buffs only got to Southern Cal quarterback JT Daniels once last week. Again, a similar result on Saturday would spell disaster for CU. The more pressure on Browning, the better. The Buffs’ front seven would do well to aid their teammates in the secondary as much as possible.
I guess I’m just not convinced that the Buffaloes will play as miserably this week as they did last Saturday, when literally nothing seemed to go their way. I expect a more focused and fresh Colorado team to take the field on Seattle.
I think the Buffaloes have much to prove to themselves after coming off such a brutal loss to USC. They’ll be ready, they’ll execute on the field and they will win, albeit not comfortably. Anticipate a close one this Saturday.
Score prediction: Colorado 31, Washington 24
Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Alex Pepper at email@example.com.
Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Max Troderman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Zoe Collins Rath at email@example.com.
Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Scott MacDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ScottTopics.
Contact CU Independent Head Sports Editor Justin Guerriero at Justin.email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo.