This is the Game Colorado has had circled since getting run out of last year’s Pac-12 championship Game. Both teams come in undefeated, but Washington is the one that’s ranked coming in at No. 7 in the AP polls. Because of that, the Huskies are large -11 point road favorites up at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Neither one of these teams has been fully challenged yet with both having a mostly easy non-Conference slate as Colorado State was the toughest team either of them faced. The Buffs put up a fight in last year’s Game, only down 14-7 at half, but without a passing Game it was too much to overcome. Sefo Liufau threw three picks and the running Game managed only 2.8 yards per carry and they were dead in the water. Throw in 265 rushing yards for the Huskies and it turned into a 41-10 blowout.
This time around, Colorado has a different idea with the help of Steven Montez at quarterback, a guy that many believe is better than Liufau. Completing 68.3% of his passes so far, if he can at least move the ball with his arm, that’d be a boost for the Buffs offense. With experience at wide out in Shay Fields, Devin Ross and Bryce Bobo, that will be more than possible. But still, this offense needs to find more room on the ground and that starts with Phillip Lindsay. He’s at 5.3 yards per carry, which is near last year’s rate, but that’s before Conference play.
Washington lost a few defensive guys to the NFL so this group isn’t expected to be as good, but it should still be one of the better ones in the conference. However, the Huskies haven’t really been challenged and haven’t looked as dominant, either. That will be one way for Colorado to get the cover.
On the other side, UW also hasn’t looked as potent behind a younger offensive line. The interesting thing is that Myles Gaskin isn’t being used as much after back-to-back 1,300-yard seasons. He’s at just 153 yards on 24 attempts right now, but there’s a good chance he’s being rested for Games like this. And if Colorado’s rush defense hasn’t improved then there’s also a good possibility Gaskin runs through them.
If Gaskin and LAvon Coleman have that kind of success again, Jake Browning won’t be needed for much. He wasn’t great in last year’s Game, completing just 9-of-24 passes, so that will be something to consider if this Game is close. Browning has looked good in the early season, but it’s hard to rate how much these players have improved against the defenses they’ve faced.
A lot of people will simply take Washington because of how last year’s title Game played out. The Buffs also lost defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, but the group has looked just as good in early Games. Backing Colorado may not be a popular choice, but the Buffs have the team to make this one more competitive, especially under the lights at home. The Huskies have the better players, but already with two non-covers, this team may not be as good as it was a year ago. Colorado +12