The Colorado pass defense has gone from mediocre to worse at the wrong time.
It got ripped up by Oregon State as it mounted a huge comeback two weeks ago, and it had an even tougher time last week at Arizona, with Khalil Tate and company cranking up 350 yards and five touchdowns with big shot after big shot.
It’s not like Washington State can throw, or anything.
Gardner Minshew continues to make a push to be No. 3 on everyone’s Heisman ballot with great game after great game, throwing for 319 yards or more in every game, including a 334-yard gut-check performance in last week’s win over Cal.
But the Cougars aren’t No. 8 in the CFP rankings just because of Mr. Mustache.
The offensive line is going a great job, the defensive front is cranking up the pass rush with the pressure coming from all sides – leading to a Pac-12 high 27 sacks – and …
The passing game is really, really good.
Colorado has the skill and talent to keep up the pace if everything clicks, but Washington State is battle-tested now. Because of the steady play of Minshew, and the great play on the lines, have turned this into a special year.
One Reason Why Colorado Will Win
The main man might be back.
There’s a cautious optimism that superstar WR Laviska Shenault is back after missing the last few games with a toe injury, and the Buff offense really, really needs him.
He was a machine over the first six games of the season, on the way to 60 catches for 780 yards and six touchdowns before getting hurt. Even if he’s not all back full – or at all – the passing game is there to keep up the pace.
Life is a whole lot easier with No. 2 to throw to, but Steven Montez has still been able to crank up the passing game, with 662 yards and five touchdowns over the two games.
This is a Buff team equipped to be able to get into a firefight, and it’s going to need to catch a few big breaks, too.
Colorado lost the turnover battle in the win over Colorado State to start the season, and it’s been a +8 ever since – it hasn’t lost the turnover margin in any of the last eight games. On the flip side, Wazzu has turned it over three times in the last two games and has been on the negative side of the stat four times.
The Buffs need to come up with a few big Minshew mistakes.
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What’s Going To Happen
This is just the type of game Washington State could be in big, big trouble.
Two years ago, Wazzu was on an eight-game winning streak when it went to Boulder in a massive Pac-12 game, and it got rocked 38-24. The Buffs need this to get bowl eligible, and with Utah up next and Cal to close, getting that sixth win this week is a must.
But this isn’t the Wazzu team of two years ago.
Minshew won’t get rattled, the lines will take over, and the pass rush will get to Montez just enough to come up with a few key stops. It won’t be easy, but the amazing Cougar season marches on in a shootout.
Fearless Prediction & Line
Washington State 38, Colorado 31
Line: Washington State -6, o/u: 60.5
ATS Confidence out of 5: 1.5
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Must See Rating: 3.5
5: Watergate (on History Channel)
1: 52nd CMA Awards