Washington State 31 … at Colorado 27

Posted Oct 1, 2011

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Washington State at Colorado

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 5 - Washington St at Colorado

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Oct. 1 Washington State 31 … at Colorado 27
CFN Analysis: It took years of pain and suffering, but Washington State is really and truly playing like a team good enough to go bowling. The passing game is terrific, the pass rush and the defensive front are playing great, and there's finally a little bit of confidence in key situations to come up with big wins. Marquess Wilson's 63-yard game-winning touchdown catch might be a program starter for Paul Wulff, and if the Cougars can beat UCLA on the road next week, then it'll be truly time to get excited. There were too many penalties against the Buffs and the run defense was spotty, but Marshall Lobbestael came through in the clutch and Wazzu is off to a hot start. The program deserves time to enjoy it.

Colorado just doesn't have any defensive backs. Yeah, the Buffs might have been in control of the game for long stretches, but they didn't have the players in the defensive backfield to come up with the stops needed in key moments. Rodney Stewart is doing what he can to carry the offense, and Tyler Hansen hasn't been awful, but the defense got lit up despite coming up with three sacks and consistently decent pressure. The offense needs better field position, and ranking last in the nation in kickoff returns and 100th in punt returns isn't a plus. Colorado needs to find something other than rushing the passer than it can do at a high level, but going on the road against Stanford and Washington isn't going to help the cause.

(AP) BOULDER, Colo. -- Marquess Wilson sped past two defenders and hauled in a 63-yard touchdown pass from Marshall Lobbestael with 1:10 left to lead Washington State to a stunning 31-27 comeback win over Colorado on Saturday.

The Buffaloes (1-4, 0-1) were primed for a win in their Pac-12 debut before surrendering two touchdowns in the final 2 1/2 minutes. Colorado had thwarted Washington State's high-powered aerial attack most of the afternoon with a patchwork secondary that included two converted offensive players.

Lobbestael threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Cougars (3-1, 1-0) to just their second road win in four years under coach Paul Wulff.

The Buffaloes led 27-17 with 5:11 left after Rodney Stewart's 1-yard TD run, which he set up with a 52-yard scamper to the Washington State 21.

Lobbestael led Washington State 77 yards in seven plays, hitting Isiah Barton from 19 yards out with 2:35 left to pull the Cougars within a field goal.

With three timeouts remaining, Wulff elected to forgo a risky onside kick, and the strategy paid off when the Cougars forced a punt and got the ball back with 1:50 left.

This time, they needed just 40 seconds to cover 90 yards.

Bottled up for much of the afternoon -- 58 yards on five catches -- Wilson sped past cornerback Greg Henderson and safety Anthony Perkins and was wide open as he hauled in the pass and raced into the end zone.

The Buffs had one more chance, but receiver Paul Richardson was stripped of the ball by cornerback Damante Horton after a 23-yard gain and linebacker C.J. Mizell recovered for Washington State at its 39 with just under a minute left.

Afterward, Buffaloes coach Jon Embree declared he was tired of losing and ripped into his team for finding a way to lose another winnable game.

Until the final few minutes, it looked like the Buffs were going to win despite a rash of injuries that has sidelined six cornerbacks -- a seventh missed the game while tending to a family matter -- forcing converted wide receiver Jason Espinoza and converted tailback Brian Lockridge to line up as defensive backs when the Cougars went with multiple-receiver sets.

Espinoza had a quarterback hurry that forced a punt, and Lockridge, who had never played defense before Monday, had five tackles and a sack.

Tyler Hansen threw touchdown passes of 9 yards to Richardson and 4 yards to Toney Clemons, the latter giving Colorado a 20-10 lead in the third quarter. Lobbestael responded with an 11-yard TD strike to fullback Jared Byers to keep it close.

Will Oliver's third field goal, a 48-yarder as the first half expired, gave Colorado a 13-10 halftime lead. It came just 16 seconds after Andrew Furney tied the game with a 28-yarder following Hansen's first interception in 133 passes.

Washington State (2-1) at Colorado (1-3) Oct. 1, 3:30, FCS

Here's The Deal … Most observers in the preseason felt that Washington State and Colorado would occupy the Pac-12 North and South cellar, respectively, in 2011. Both schools are determined to make a break from conventional wisdom, beginning with this weekend's meeting in Boulder. The Cougars got a week off to do a self-assessment through the first three games of action. Although the program has clearly taken considerable strides compared to recent seasons, it also dropped its last game to San Diego State, 42-24. Conference road wins, especially outside of Pullman, have been uncommon for Wazzu, which could use Saturday afternoon as another chance to foment growth under head coach Paul Wulff.

The Buffaloes have had a predictably tough start for rookie coach Jon Embree, losing three times in September, including last week at Ohio State. Since the Week 2 visit from Cal was technically a non-conference game, this week's pairing with Washington State will be Colorado's first that affects the Pac-12 standings.

Why Washington State Might Win: Although competition has been a factor, there's no denying that the Cougars are dangerous on offense. They're ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring, passing and total offense, despite losing starting QB Jeff Tuel to a broken collarbone in the opener. Backup Marshall Lobbestael has stepped in to throw 10 touchdown passes, maximizing the big-play ability of Marquess Wilson, Jared Karstetter and Isiah Barton. The Washington State passing attack will present a serious challenge to a raw Colorado defensive backfield that's yielded eight touchdown passes and intercepted just one through the first four games.

Why Colorado Might Win: In Washington State's first game versus a grown-up offense, it gave up 500 yards and six touchdowns to San Diego State. Now, the Buffs aren't the Aztecs, but that doesn't mean they lack playmakers. Despite his slow start, RB Rodney Stewart is still the kind of player who can spark an offense with his toughness, soft hands and knack for getting better as the game wears on. And WR Paul Richardson is in the early stages of joining the best to ever play the position in Boulder, catching 22 passes for 398 yards and four touchdowns last month alone. Against the Cougars, Colorado is capable of topping its average of 24 points per game.

What To Watch Out For: Success for the visitors will depend on their ability to keep Lobbestael off his back, no small objective versus an underrated Colorado pass rush. The Buffaloes quietly rank No. 10 nationally in sacks, getting to the quarterback at least three times in all four games. The no-name Wazzu offensive line, which yielded six sacks in the San Diego State loss, will have to pay particular attention to hard-charging LB Douglas Rippy and linemen Josh Hartigan and Chidera Uzo-Diribe.

What Will Happen: While Wulff has his Cougars headed down the right track, they also got exposed on the Mesa in their last outing. Thrilled to be back at home for the first time in three weeks, Colorado will pick at Washington State's scabs, especially when it has the ball. Stewart will finally recapture his 2010 form by accounting for 150 yards from scrimmage. And Buffs QB Tyler Hansen will continue to look sharp in his finale, teaming up with Richardson to outduel Lobbestael and his set of gifted receivers.

CFN Prediction: Colorado 30 … Washington State 24
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Colorado -3   O/U: 58.5

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