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Colorado Buffaloes vs. No. 15 Washington Huskies: Week 8 preview

The Buffs look to upset the Huskies for the first time in Pac-12 play

Washington v Colorado Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Colorado Buffaloes (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) head north to Seattle for a second straight Pac-12 road game against the No. 15 Washington Huskies (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) on Saturday afternoon. Both teams are coming off a losing effort last week. The Buffs fell 30-21 to USC late Saturday night and Washington lost 30-27 in an overtime blunder against No. 12 Oregon at Autzen Stadium.

The last time Colorado defeated Washington was the 1996 Holiday Bowl, a 33-21 end to the Pac-10/Big 12 matchup. Colorado makes the trip to the Emerald City for the first time in five years and just the second time in coach Mike MacIntyre’s tenure. Washington has won the past eight contests in the series, including a 41-10 thrashing of Colorado two years ago in the Pac-12 Championship. The Buffs have broken the 30-point mark only twice (1989, 1996) in 17 games of the 103-year history of the series.

After a 10-7 halftime lead, the Huskies beat up the Buffs with a total of 254 rushing yards on the way to last year’s 37-10 win. Steven Montez threw two interceptions to Jordan Miller, along with a pick six to Myles Bryant on a cold, rainy night at Folsom Field. The rout wasn’t similar to the one in the championship game, but was nonetheless another methodical second half shutdown by Washington.

Colorado’s loss to USC took the shine off of them being one of college football’s last undefeated teams. Although, coach Mike MacIntyre and his staff have the Buffaloes a step in the right direction after already equaling last seasons win total while firmly in line for another bowl berth. Washington came into the season as a favorite to make the College Football Playoff, but appears to be out of the running with two losses.

“Their offensive line is big and powerful”, MacIntyre said about Washington this week. “The thing they do a little bit different than other teams, their tight ends are excellent blockers; that bothered us a little bit last year in the running game. So that is something we’re going to have to handle.”

Washington’s offense has gone from electrifying to balanced and efficient with Bush Hamdan taking over at offensive coordinator/QB coach for Jonathan Smith, who departed for a head coaching position at Oregon State. Hamdan, a former Boise State quarterback (2005-08), started his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Dan Hawkins at Colorado in 2009. Since that time, he has coached various positions for six different schools, along with a brief stint in the NFL last year as a quarterback coach for the Atlanta Falcons. Hamdan returned to Chris Petersen’s staff after spending time as a quality control/wide receiver’s coach for two seasons in 2015 and 2016.

Quarterback Jake Browning has thrown for 1,751 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions thru seven games. UW’s all-time leading passer currently sits tenth in Pac-12 history with 10,855 career passing yards. Another returning starter for the Huskies is their all-time leading rusher Myles Gaskin. He’s tied for second in the nation with 139 carries for 623 yards and five touchdowns. Two of Gaskins’ career best games have come against Colorado in recent years. If healthy, he’ll be a challenge for the Buffs defense to contain after putting up 202 yards and two touchdowns in last year’s meeting. Colorado’s defense is ranked 45th against the run this year, allowing an average of 136.8 yards per game. Browning and Gaskin are a majority of why Washington is 20th in total offense, averaging 442 yards per game and 28.9 points per contest.

On the other hand, Colorado’s offense is comparable to Washington’s on a couple different levels. Both have terrific talents who’re capable of morphing into game changers. What sets them apart is the Huskies stack up well with depth at every position, something Colorado hasn’t been able to rely on through the years.

Steven Montez will try to overcome the struggles he was faced with last week against USC. Montez has a lot of game experience against the Huskies in the past two years, and even more film to breakdown to formulate a better strategy with Buffs QB coach Kurt Roper.

Perhaps the biggest factor to CU’s overall success will be the injury report prior to game time. Explosive playmaking wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. (ankle) and senior Jay MacIntyre (concussion) are both doubtful to play on Saturday. They’ll have a tremendous impact on how the Buffs are preparing for Washington’s defense. If Shenault and MacIntyre aren’t able to go, Juwann Winfree and Kabion Ento will likely be replacing them in the lineup. Even without playing most of the second half vs. USC, Shenault is currently third among FBS receivers with 780 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns.

News and Notes

Colorado looks to snap a 28-game losing streak on the road to ranked teams dating back to 2002. Washington is the first ranked opponent for CU this season. The Buffs are 2-18 against ranked teams in the Mike MacIntyre era. Overall, Colorado is 6-6-1 all-time in the state of Washington (4-4-1 in Seattle, 1-0 in Spokane, 1-2 in Pullman).

From the desk of Dave Plati

“Talk about some bizarre numbers in the CU-USC game. In the first half, just 13 out pf 73 plays were in plus territory (USC 8, CU 5); there were 45 of 145 by the end of the game (CU 27, USC 18). USC was 2-of-10 on third down, with all attempts six yards or more (six of 10-plus). CU forced three turnovers but didn’t convert any into points. USC had 16 tackles for loss, second-most ever against a Colorado team, but also had 13 penalties (for 123 yards). The Trojans gained 159 yards on four pass plays (65, 39, 28 and 27, or 39.8 per) … and gained 175 yards on its other 57 plays (3.1 per).”

Obscure stat of the week: “Colorado has been pretty good thus far this season in third down defense; opponents are converting at just a 32.9 percent rate (28-of-85). But looking inside-the-numbers, foes are 9-of-12 on 3rd-&-1 (8-of-10) and 3rd-&-2 (1-of-2); they haven’t had a single 3rd-&3 try yet, thus are 19-of-73 on 3rd-&-4 or longer (26.0). In the second half, CU has stiffened even more on third down tries by the enemy: they are just 7-of-38, or 18.4 percent; CU’s three Pac-12 foes are a combined 1-of-16 after halftime with 11 straight misses going into this Saturday (6.3 percent: UCLA, 1-of-7; ASU 0-of-5, USC 0-of-4).”

Colorado travels to the heart of the Pacific Northwest for their second of back-to-back Pac-12 road games against No. 15 Washington on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 1:30 p.m. MT. A total of 998 miles is the distance between Boulder, Colorado, and Seattle, Washington. When all is said and done, counting bus rides from campus to airports to hotels to stadiums, CU will have traveled just under 4,000 miles when the team returns home Saturday night.

TV: Fox (National)

Radio: 850 KOA (Mark Johnson and Gary Barnett)

Odds: -17.5 Washington

Weather: 61° partly cloudy