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First look: (10) Washington State at Colorado

November 6, 2018

What is it? No. 10 Washington State (8-1, 8-1) tries to extend its five-game Pac-12 winning streak when it goes on the road to face Colorado (5-4, 2-4).

Where is it? Folsom Field in Boulder.

When is it? Kickoff is 12:45 p.m. PT Saturday.

Where can I watch it? ESPN will have the live broadcast.

Who is favored? Washington State was favored by 5 1/2 points as of Tuesday morning.

How did they fare last week? The Cougars won a close call at Martin Stadium, beating California 19-13 on a fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Gardner Minshew to Easop Winston Jr.. The Buffaloes’ losing streak reached four games when they fall 42-34 to Arizona in the desert.

Why WSU will win: Colorado’s defense has been putrid since the Buffaloes lost their first game of the season, at USC. In the past four games, all losses, the Buffs have conceded 35 points per game and have struggled mightily against the pass in the most recent defeats, to Oregon State and Arizona. The Beavers threw for 345 yards and three touchdowns two weeks ago and the Wildcats dialed up 350 yards and four touchdowns last Saturday. The Buffaloes could also be without a few key pieces in their defensive secondary, including starting strong safety Evan Worthington, an All-Pac-12 honorable-mention performer in 2017 who missed the Arizona game with a concussion.

Why Colorado will win: If Laviska Shenault Jr. returns for Colorado, the Cougars will have to come up with a game plan for a wide receiver who piled up 780 yards on 60 catches and scored six touchdowns before the Buffaloes lost the Pac-12’s then-leading wideout to a toe injury. With Shenault on the field, Colorado is 5-1. Without him, the Buffaloes are 0-3. Shenault is also a staple of Colorado’s run game; on 15 carries this season, he’s rushed for 87 yards and five touchdowns. Despite losing four consecutive games, the five-win Buffaloes are still knocking on the door of a bowl game, and they also aren’t completely out of the picture when it comes to winning the tightly contested Pac-12 South. WSU may not see a Colorado team currently in its best form, but it’s unlikely the Buffaloes will lay down for the Cougars, either.

What happened last time? Both passing offenses faced resistance when WSU and Colorado met in Pullman last year – not necessarily from one another, but from windy and slippery conditions that caused the quarterbacks to combine for 33-of-77 passing. The Cougars were still effective when they needed to be, however, and Luke Falk threw three touchdown passes, to Tay Martin, Brandon Arconado and Renard Bell. Martin started at “X” receiver in place of the suspended Tavares Martin Jr., and finished with four catches for 78 yards. Colorado’s offense was not as fortunate. The Buffaloes benched Steven Montez, who had thrown incomplete on his first seven passes and finished just 4-of-13 passing. WSU held Colorado to 174 yards of offense and the Buffs were just 1-of-17 on third down in a 28-0 loss.

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