The Washington Huskies made it out of the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 3-0 record and a (mostly) healthy roster. Now, they face off against the Colorado Buffaloes in a rematch of last year’s conference championship game that doubles as the Pac-12 opener for both teams. The smart money in Vegas likes the Dawgs to win by 10; do any of our writers smell an upset?
Three words, everybody: Meaningful. College. Football.
As much as we value every minute of Husky football that we get to watch, even the die-hardiest of the die-hards must admit that it’s difficult to keep one’s attention glued to the Pac-12 Network when the first- and second-stringers have long since traded in their helmets for headsets and play sheets for clipboards.
It seems appropriate, then, that Washington’s first legitimate challenge of the season comes against the last Pac-12 program that gave them a run for their money in 2016. This year’s Colorado squad is much different than the team that won last year’s South Division championship — gone are all-conference linebacker Jimmie Gilbert and defensive backs Chidobe Awuzie, Tedric Thompson and Ahkello Witherspoon, as well as defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt — but they still feature a formidable offensive duo in quarterback Steven Montez and running back Phillip Lindsay, who are responsible for producing 10 of Colorado’s 11 touchdowns this season.
Tomorrow’s game will likely be the first trial-by-fire experience for Washington’s rebuilt defensive secondary, and it would be surprising to see Colorado fail to draw any blood. In particular, Montez has a pair of potent weapons at his disposal in wide receivers Shay Fields and Bryce Bobo, the latter a potential matchup advantage for the Buffs at 6-2, 205 lbs.
Where Washington should be able to press the advantage is in their own passing game. Jake Browning’s connection with Dante Pettis is an established threat that the inexperienced Buffalo secondary should find difficult to counter, and players like Chico McClatcher and Aaron Fuller who have had relatively quiet performances thus far may find Saturday to be their breakout opportunity.
Colorado comes into this game with the stinging memory of the whipping the Huskies put on them on the national stage when they last met, and it would not surprise me at all if the Buffs come out with their hair on fire and jump out to an early lead at Folsom Field. Even if that happens, though, I expect Washington’s decided advantage in the passing game to pave the way to a two-score victory by the final whistle. Washington 37, Colorado 20.
Spoiler alert: I like Washington.
That's probably not surprising. The truth is that UW matches up pretty well with the Buffs. The biggest advantage that the Huskies have is with their defensive line against a Buff o-line that has been sluggish so far. While I could see Colorado making some first downs, I just can't see them breaking off too many chunk plays (if any) or putting more than a couple of TDs on the board.
UW has a more balanced offense and the capability to flip the field with both Joel Whitford punting and Dante Pettis returning. That alone ought to create a couple of extra scoring opportunities and lead to a UW win. UW 38, Colorado 20
The Buffs are an interesting team. Steven Montez is a good QB and all of the playmakers return on offense, including a really, really good running back in Phillip Lindsay. The offensive line is a big question mark for Colorado, and frankly I believe the advantage in the trenches is where Washington overcomes altitude, a hostile environment, and any of the challenges presented in a Pac-12 road game.
I look for a close game, and I wouldn't be surprised if UW trails in this one. I was really surprised last year in the Pac-12 Championship game when the Huskies were able to pound the running game from the opening snap since it was pretty much the only time that was the case all season. I would love to see that again, but I'm not counting on it. It will have to be Jake Browning spreading the ball around to his targets and UW mixing in the run.
Defensively, there will be some breakdowns if the Huskies cannot get pressure on Montez. The UW defense should be able to wear down Colorado and take this one, and come close to covering the spread.
UW 31, CU 23
I do think the Dawgs will win. I also think it'll be a lot closer than all of our cardiovascular systems would like though. Colorado's defense, while admittedly having gone up against no opponent like UW yet, looks scary, while the offense has some crazy tools.
Particularly, Philip Lindsay (Lindsey? Phillip?) scares me if the Colorado run game can tire out the Washington 1s on the interior. Gaines and Vea and Johnson are great, yes, but who behind them has stood out? Pete isn't Sark; he rotates players in especially on the defensive line -- and that's a good thing -- but I'm a bit anxious about when it gets into the third and fourth quarters if Colorado decides to run it up the gut a bunch. Then in the air, Steven Montez can worm his way out of a UW pass rush that has shown it still has a lot of growing to do. Still, I think Washington's defense should marginally be the victor in that outcome.
The Washington offense needs to play better, period, especially the interior offensive line. I cringe to think of what will happen if Jake gets thrown around all game, yet I'm excited of what he could do if the O line holds up and gives him time.
Sorry if that sounded all doom and gloom. Just kidding, not sorry. I still think Washington wins this but I feel like it'll be one of those games where you pace around the room yelling the whole time about how you hate sports and sports suck and are stupid. Final: Washington 24 - 17 Colorado
The one we've all been waiting for is here.
Similar to least season, the Huskies comfortably dispatched their 3 overmatched non-conference foes and now head south to open PAC-12 play on the road. Unlike last year, this is a good and dangerous Colorado team that's eager to avenge their loss in the conference championship game.
What concerns me about Colorado on offense is QB Steven Montez's ability to extend plays that break down, and still complete a pass. Under pressure this season he's completed 64% of his passes for 129 yards and 2 TDs. There's a bit of "all or nothing" going on here too as he's also been sacked 8 times. It will be up to the Husky D to limit the "alls". Montez has a deep and diverse set of receivers so this will be a tough, early test for the secondary. The pass rush, which hasn't quite found its rhythm yet, will also need to get home for sacks when needed, and play disciplined contain when that's called for too. I think the secondary answers the call, but Montez will make a few plays. They do get into some trouble in the red zone however and settle for FGs.
On the ground Phillip Lindsay is a tough, physical runner with enough speed to break long runs. I'm not as concerned here as I think that Azeem Victor and Keishawn Beierria have their first big games of the season. Not to mention Vea, Gaines, and Jaylen Johnson upfront, it might be rough sledding for the Buffaloes. I suspect they'll try to establish him early and set a physical tone they lacked in last years contest. There's no doubt Lindsay is their heartbeat with over 70 carries this season.
For the Dawgs, I think we'll finally see Coleman and Gaskin get a large number of carries and the run game begin to hum. And while the Buffs got beat over the top a few times by Northern Colorado last week, CB Isaiah Oliver is one of the PAC-12's best. His match up against Dante Pettis is key. Former Husky Drew Lewis has been arguably their best defender at LB and could have a couple first half plays that cause problems for the Huskies. That said, this could be a tight contest at halftime as many visitors to Folsom Field in the last couple years will understand.
Ultimately, this Husky team will continue to do what it does best - be ultra efficient on both sides of the ball and win special teams. When they do this, they're extremely difficult to beat. As dangerous as Colorado can be, their efficiency is really not great and their red zone struggles on offense won't cut it against this Husky defense. Myles Gaskin has his first 100 yard game and Byron Murphy gets a pick.
Elevation, smellevation. Huskies win 27-17.
This game has been circled on my calendar as the one I was most nervous about since the schedule was announced. And that isn’t because of the revenge angle. If getting disgraced the previous year on the football field was enough to change a team’s performance than the Oregon streak would’ve ended long before it actually did. I just can’t get last year’s Arizona game out of my head. Ideally, that performance could be contributed to the first road game, some fluky plays, and a step up in competition. UW has already played Rutgers on the road and hopefully UW can avoid giving up long touchdowns like it did last year so only the competition difference is a true concern. Still, it worries me.
This Buffaloes team will look completely different from the version that UW faced in the Pac-12 Championship game and it’s still unclear whether or not that’s a good thing. The Sefo Liufau injury last year completely derailed Colorado’s offensive game plan and the Buffs have lost a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball. I expect those two aspects to even out. UW’s ability to sustain their defense repeatedly given their losses to the NFL means I’m willing to accept that Colorado’s defense may not have taken that much of a step back.
In terms of the actual matchup, UW’s young secondary will be tested by what might be the best group of receivers in the conference. Phillip Lindsay is an extremely good and versatile back and I expect him to have a lot more success than he did in their previous meeting. On offense, Jake Browning is healthier than he was last time and Colorado isn’t going to want to get run all over again so expect to see a lot of loaded fronts. The Fresno State game (competition acknowledged) gave me a lot more faith that Jake will be able to efficiently maneuver the offense should that be the case. I’m conservative by nature and until I see UW handily dismiss a quality opponent on the road, I’m not going to assume it will happen.
Washington- 30, Colorado- 24.
What result do you expect from the Washington vs. Colorado game?
This poll is closed
Washington wins in a blowout
Washington wins a close one
Colorado wins a close one
Colorado wins in a blowout