Did you know the Buffs play tonight? I definitely knew that, and certainly didn’t just realize that 45 seconds before writing these two sentences.
In theory, tonight’s one of the more important games of the season: Washington State is the more beatable of these last two teams on their schedule, and because of that whole pesky ‘haven’t won a game in six weeks’ issue, they need ‘em both if they’re going to sneak into a bowl game.
The good news? Washington State’s defense is extremely meh, a welcome break from the last month of CU games, which featured three of the Pac-12’s five best defenses. The bad news is everything else.
All that being said, there are still plenty (fine, a few) (okay, FINE, a couple) reasons to watch tonight’s game in Pullman, and not just because it’s too early to get invested in college basketball. Here are a few, just in case you need to be convinced how to spend your Friday night:
Can Jimmy Horn Jr. get to 68 receptions this season?
There’s a very real chance that Jimmy Horn Jr. eclipses his two-year reception total from South Florida in just one with the Buffs. He had 67 catches over 23 games with the Bulls, and heads into Friday night with 54 in this season alone. He’s been in a somewhat different role this year – despite such a dramatic increase in usage, his total yardage hasn’t changed a ton, and his per-game average is actually down – but there’s no doubt he’ll be one of the more important players on the offense next season, should he choose to return for it.
He’s coming off two of his more lackluster performances of the year, and like most everyone else, hasn’t really had a huge game since that USC loss. Setting a career high obviously won’t happen tonight (unless it does?!?!), but when you’re a 4-6 football team playing another 4-6 football team at 830PM on a Friday night, these are the types of things you watch for. Feed him!
Will anyone rush for 100 yards this year?
Probably not! The closest anyone’s gotten this year to doing it by themselves is Anthony Hankerson, who got 75% of the way there against, you guessed it!, USC. Here’s a fun fact for you: in the last three weeks, the team’s leading rushers have 60 yards combined. So in case you still weren’t quite clear just how bleak things are, there you go.
I guess that theoretically this would be a night to have a Day: Wazzu’s defense is allowing 161 rushing yards per game – which is the 3rd-worst in the Pac-12 – and has given up at least 150 yards in all but three games.
But, as you know, that means nothing to a Buffs’ offense that quit running the ball cold turkey. Wouldn’t it be fun to have just *one* big game on the ground though? Chewing game clock can be fun! I can think of two very-good, very-sore players on the Buffs’ offense who would love to not have to carry the entire offensive load for the 11th straight week.
[Holds back tears while staring at the 8:30 kickoff time] Goodbye, old friend.
The start of next week’s season finale in Utah is still listed as TBD, but there are really only two options for kickoff, and it’s not going to be the later one. That means Friday night’s game is, more than likely, the very last Pac-12 After Dark game for the Buffs. This time next year they’ll be headed off to somewhere like Kansas or West Virginia for a Big 12 After Breakfast matchup that doesn’t feature half of the shenanigans or late-night fog.
There’s something immensely soothing about late-night West Coast football, and it’s just not going to hit the same next season when the last game of the night features the Cincinnati Bearcats. So even if tonight’s game is repulsive in every way, which it will be, remember to take it all in with a smile and a beverage that you open and then drink very little of.