Six Picks: Colorado vs. No. 7 Washington

A Colorado football helmet during the 2014 Rocky Mountain Showdown at Sports Authority Field in Denver. (James Bradbury/CU Independent File)

The Colorado Buffaloes football team takes on the visiting No. 7 Washington Huskies this Saturday at 8 p.m. We gathered six members of the CU Independent sports staff to give their thoughts and predictions for the Pac-12 matchup.

Kyle Rini, Assistant Sports Editor: If the Buffaloes’ performance in nonconference play doesn’t have you worried about this game, I don’t think you’ve been paying attention.

Those games needed to be complete performances to prove that CU could be on the same level as the Huskies. They weren’t, and now its clear both sides of the ball are open to exploitation from Jake Browning, Myles Gaskin and the “Death Row” defense. As much as I want to draw parallels between Colorado’s early season struggles and Washington’s game against Rutgers, I know deep down, it’s just not the same. Unlike the Buffs, The Huskies learned from that opener and beat the brakes off their next opponents.

I think either sophomore quarterback Steven Montez or senior tailback Phillip Lindsay (but not both) will get things going on offense and put some points on the board. But the defense will likely give up big plays. After all, anything Jacob Knipp can do, Browning can do better. Also expect a punt or kick return touchdown for Dante Pettis, aka the second coming of Devin Hester.  

Even If CU shows improvement on both sides, it won’t be enough. Though they will be on the road, I think Washington is simply the better team and will play like it on Saturday. Colorado will take its first L at Folsom since 2015, but hey, all good things must come to an end.

Final Score: Washington 38, Colorado 20

Zoe Rath, Sports Staff Writer: CU is still a young team, but Montez got touches and experience on the field when Sefo Liufau was injured last season, and he performed well while doing so. The defense lost a lot of players but it has also been doing a good job of holding its own on the field.

However, Washington is a team on an even better trajectory. After winning the Pac-12 last year, the Huskies performed decently well against the University of Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff.

UW’s quarterback, Jake Browning, is having a good season so far and the Washington defense smothers everybody.

It’s going to be a hard game for the Buffs, but if the defense can keep the pressure on Browning in the pocket and Montez is protected, the Buffs might have a chance. Nonetheless, the fans in Folsom might suffer deja vu from last years Pac-12 championship game.

Final Score: Washington 35, Colorado 7

Jack Stern, Sports Staff Writer: The Washington Huskies have looked like the goliath of the Pac-12 thus far this year, despite losing arguably their biggest playmaker on offense in wide receiver John Ross, as well as four talented starters in the secondary after last season.

On offense, wideout Dante Pettis has elevated his game to another level, while quarterback Jake Browning and shifty running back Myles Gaskin have seemingly got better by the week. On the defensive front, the Huskies have playmakers at all three levels with Azeem Victor at linebacker, big man Vita Vea at defensive tackle and the athletic Taylor Rapp at safety.

The Colorado Buffaloes have struggled to execute consistently on both sides of the ball early on. This been somewhat masked by timely playmaking by quarterback Steven Montez, as well as lesser, non-power five opponents.

I think the Huskies will ultimately be able to stop the offense from getting going by stacking the box and forcing Montez to beat them through the air. The Huskies talented pass rush should get their fair share of pressure up front on a Buffs offensive line that hasn’t exactly shined so far.

With the talented secondary the Huskies have, I feel they’ll ultimately be able to contain the Buffs wideouts, for the most part.

Behind one of the best offensive lines in college football, the Huskies should have no trouble establishing a run game that can consistently move the chains, as well as an explosive pass attack that can make the big play at the right time.

Although I think the Buffs will rise to the level of competition, and ultimately play their best game of the year thus far, I see this talented Huskies team ultimately coming out victorious.

Final Score: Washington 34, Colorado 14

Alex Pepper, Sports Staff Writer: The key to this game will be Colorado’s defense. The Buffs lost eight starters on defense in the offseason. However, the new guys have showed some flashes. Redshirt freshman Trey Udoffia is especially promising. He’s been a solid corner, opposite fellow DB Isaiah Oliver, through the first three games and had a couple key plays in the Rocky Mountain Showdown.

The big question is going to be the consistency of the defense. Can it play at a high level for four full quarters of football?

It’s important to keep in mind the Huskies are returning their big three playmakers on offense in quarterback Jake Browning, running back Myles Gaskin and wide receiver/returner Dante Pettis. This game will truly give us a gauge of this year’s team, but I think they will fall to the better overall team.

Final score: Washington Huskies 34, Colorado Buffaloes 24

Justin Guerriero, Head Sports Editor: Colorado’s defense has some new faces but has performed well overall so far this year. The other end of the field is full of talent, from the offensive line, to the “Tasmanian Devil” Phillip Lindsay at tailback, to quarterback Steven Montez.

If the Buffaloes are going to beat No. 7 Washington, there cannot be any “bonehead mistakes,” which is a blast from the past phrase that head coach Mike MacIntyre used constantly during the team’s dark days of 2013-15. The offense has to be firing on all cylinders and it’s imperative that CU’s defensive 11 hold the line vs. Jake Browning and Washington’s offense.

For me, the winner of this game will be the team that is most flawless on offense. The Buffs can’t go three-and-out on their first possession, as was the case last week vs. Northern Colorado. Whichever team stalls out on offense will be doomed. I’m more inclined to think that the Buffs will do that than the Huskies.

The atmosphere at Folsom Field will be great and I’m looking forward to this night game, but from what I’ve seen of the 2017 Buffaloes thus far, I’m not convinced that at this time they are capable of defeating an intimidating Washington team.

Final score: Washington 38, Colorado 17

Drew Sharek, Sports Staff Writer: The Washington Huskies are 10 point favorites at Folsom Field this Saturday for a reason. This Huskies look as legit as they were last season, despite losing their key secondary pieces to the draft.

Husky quaterback Jack Browning and wideout Dante Pettis have been on the same page recently, and the results are showing. In their first three games, Browning completed 74 percent of his passes and Pettis is averaging 69.7 receiving yards per game.

Pettis is a punt-returning threat as well, as he’s averaged 38.8 yards per return and has claimed three touchdowns.

The Colorado secondary will have an incredible test on their hands, despite showing impressive effort earlier this season. Browning has only thrown one interception the entire year and is an excellent decision-maker. It will be difficult for the Buffs to stop him, even at home.

Colorado might be 3-0 to start the year, but they’ve shown some blemishes. While the defense had a great start in their first two games, not allowing any touchdowns, they let up three against Northern Colorado last Saturday. This means that the defensive performance from the Buffs will be questionable.

What will give them a chance in this game will be containing Pettis and rushing Browning. Washington junior tailback Myles Gaskin rushed for 98 yards per game last season, but has only averaged 51 yards per game this season against weaker, non-conference opponents. Because of Gaskin’s struggles, this game has the makings of an air raid from the Huskies.

The Buffs, on the other hand, will need to use a balanced attack against Washington. Colorado senior tailback Phillip Lindsay’s performances this season have been Lindsay-esque, averaging 126 rushing yards per game. And while Washington’s secondary is impressive, it still features two juniors, a sophomore and a redshirt freshman. The Blackout Boyz will need to be utilized come Saturday.

The bottom line is, don’t get too sold on the Buffaloes covering this game. Washington are the cream of the crop in the Pac-12 at the moment and Jake Browning looks as phenomenal as he did last year. Take the Huskies to win and cover at Folsom.

However, I do see this as a high-scoring game. The over/under right now is at 50, and I would take the over.

Final Score: Washington 38, Colorado 24.

Contact Head Sports Editor Justin Guerriero at justin.guerriero@colorado.edu
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Kyle Rini at kyle.rini@colorado.edu
Contact sports writer Jack Stern at jack.stern@colorado.edu
Contact sports writer Zoe Rath at zoe.rath@colorado.edu
Contact sports writer Alex Pepper at alex.pepper@colorado.edu
Contact sports writer Drew Sharek at drew.sharek@colorado.edu

 

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