Week 4 - Colorado at Washington State

Posted Sep 19, 2012

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction – Colorado at Washington State

Colorado (0-3) at Washington State (2-1) Sept. 22, 5:00, FX

Here's The Deal: Colorado is this year's worst Pac-12 team. Washington State is trying to avoid being mentioned in the same breath. The Buffaloes have been an unmitigated disaster in Jon Embree's second season back at his alma mater. In a classic case of the wheels coming off, the beleaguered program has opened with consecutive poor efforts versus Colorado State, Sacramento State and Fresno State. It reached a new low last week versus the Bulldogs, falling behind 55-7 at halftime in a game that warranted a mercy rule. Wazzu is taking baby steps under first-year head coach Mike Leach, surviving close calls in consecutive weeks with Eastern Washington and UNLV. It's a process in Pullman that's going to take time. This probably isn't the year that the Cougars make their long-awaited postseason return, but getting halfway to bowl eligibility in September would quality as progress.

Why Colorado Might Win: The Buffaloes will be playing with nothing to lose, the byproduct of hitting rock bottom. The backfield is in a state of flux, with competition fueling everyone involved. Jordan Webb will again get the start at quarterback, but Connor Wood and Nick Hirschman are peering over his shoulder. And while redshirt freshman RB Christian Powell leads the team in rushing, Josh Ford was more impressive in the loss to Fresno State. Colorado should have a shot at moving the ball on a Washington State team that ranks last in Pac-12 pass defense.

Why Washington State Might Win: The Buffs' implosion is not relegated to any one particular area, but it's been especially egregious on defense. Fresno State slapped them around for 665 yards last Saturday, and might have scored 90 points had it not pulled back on the reins. This could be a good spot for Leach's offense to elevate a little higher in the passing game. Quarterbacks Jeff Tuel and Connor Halliday are somewhat interchangeable, the latter throwing four scoring strikes as the former rested a knee injury. Now that star WR Marquess Wilson has returned to form, he, Isiah Myers and Gabe Marks will run circles around an outmanned Colorado defensive backfield.

What To Watch Out For: The Colorado O-line was supposed to be a strength, but instead the program ranks 115th nationally in sacks allowed. The Buffs' biggest concern this weekend will be to keep unheralded hybrid Travis Long out of the backfield. Washington State's Buck, a linebacker-end hybrid, has started all 39 games of his college career, and has already bagged a Pac-12-high four sacks through the first three games.

What Will Happen: Colorado is a bad football team. But not quite as bad as it looked in the Valley a week ago. The Buffaloes will be more competitive in Pullman, looking as if it belongs in the Pac-12 Conference … kind of. Still, it won't be enough to break into the win column. Washington State will enjoy its best offensive output since Leach came aboard, strafing the Colorado secondary for more than 300 yards and four touchdown passes through the air.

CFN Prediction: Washington State 38 … Colorado 23
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Washington State -19 O/U: 57.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ray Lewis: A Football Life, 1 – Frankenweenie): 1.5