The 3-0 Colorado Buffaloes will play host this Saturday to fellow Pac-12 unbeaten, 7th-ranked Washington. This conference opener for both teams will take place at 10:00 EST from Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado. The game can be seen live on FS1.
After a sloppy opener at Rutgers, it looks like the Washington offense is back in business. Though it may not be as dynamic as it was last season, the Huskies have done their best to make up for the loss of WR John Ross to the NFL Draft.
They’ve gotten consistent yardage from RB Myles Gaskin (6.4 Avg.), and Browning has been able to lean on senior WR Dante Pettis in the passing game. It also helps that they’ve been playing cupcakes who only average a little over 12 points-per-game.
Colorado may not up that average much, but they still have enough of a defense to try and keep this game close. The Buffaloes lost a lot of defensive starters, but are still experienced throughout the lineup. Switching from Jim Leavitt (now at Oregon) to D.J. Eliot (formerly of Kentucky) at defensive coordinator has gone smoothly.
Right now, the Buffs are 10.5-point underdogs.
There’s no denying the Colorado defense is longing for a rematch after Gaskin torched them during a 41-10 defeat in last year’s Pac-12 Championship. And getting their revenge in front of the Boulder faithful sounds great.
But if the Huskies are a piece short (Ross) of where they were last year, it’s still better than the turnover the Buffaloes had on defense. The homefield advantage at Folsom Field is really underrated, with Colorado winning 10 of its last 11 there.
But Washington did just fine there a couple years ago, and a couple years before that. They haven’t even lost a road game since early November of 2015. They beat teams by an average of 26 points on the road last season.
Nothing Colorado has done defensively this season stacks up to what they’ll be facing Saturday. They may’ve only given up three points to Texas State, but they’ve only scored 36 points all year. The Colorado State win is impressive, if you forget the 300-plus yards passing the Rams managed.
Browning is a Heisman contender that has barely been discussed by anyone despite the year he had last year. He’s been overshadowed by Sam Darnold of USC and even Josh Rosen of UCLA when it comes to the Heisman chatter. He also knows he stunk it up (9 of 24, 118 yards) at times against Colorado last year. Don’t think he doesn’t realize the opportunity to put himself in the stiff-arm statue conversation against a team like this.
Washington is in the top-10 in sacks allowed, so they’ve kept Browning upright. With time in the pocket, he’ll be able to make a few more throws against this version of the Colorado secondary.
Also, the Huskies made their name last year off creating turnovers, ending up with an FBS-best plus-18 margin. Colorado sophomore QB Steven Montez has already thrown three picks and may not quite be ready for a stage this big. He’ll grow into this offense more and more, so this a good time to play him before he does.
Ever since Colorado got to the Pac-12, they’ve had problems with Washington. All five times they’ve played since then, the Huskies have covered every time. The Buffaloes are also 1-5 ATS in their last 6, and 1-4 ATS in their last five at home.
The Huskies biggest concern is themselves. Browning will have two of his previously injured WRs back in the lineup, and Gaskin, the guy who lit up the Buffs last season. If they find a rhythm on offense anywhere close to last season’s, this will be a runaway once again.