Friday Fast Facts – Colorado at No. 15 Washington State

Colorado at No. 15 Washington State … Big Picture

— Colorado owns a 6-4 advantage in the all-time series against Washington State. The teams are 2-2 since the Buffs joined the Pac-12, going 1-1 in both Pullman and Boulder;

— Washington State is 6-1 overall, the first such start since 2003 (in case you were wondering, the Cougars came to Boulder last November with a 9-2 record, on a nine-game winning streak after losing the first two games of the 2016 season);

— Colorado is just 2-15 against ranked teams under Mike MacIntyre, with both wins coming at home at the end of last season against Washington State (No. 20) and Utah (No. 21);

— If you are a fan of ESPN’s College GameDay, you know that a Washington State flag is a fixture in the crowd at each venue. The streak, at 201 games after last week’s appearance at James Madison, dates back to 2004 (ironically enough, ESPN College GameDay has never made an appearance in Pullman).


By the Numbers … 

— Bad v. Bad … Much has been made of Colorado needing to get pressure against Washington State quarterback Luke Falk. The Cougars are 128th in the nation (second to last) in surrendering sacks (4.57 per game), including nine against Cal last weekend in a 37-3 debacle. The problem? Colorado is 103rd in the nation in sacks (1.43 per game). Take away the six sack performance against Texas State, though, and the Buffs (with .67 sacks/game in their other six games) would be dead last in the nation in sacks;

— On the other hand … The Colorado offensive line needs to find a way to protect Steven Montez. Behind the aptly named nose tackle Hercules Mata’afa, who leads all active Pac-12 players with 36.5 career tackles-for-loss and 18.5 sacks, Washington State is 11th in the nation in sacks (3.29 per game). The CU offensive line, meanwhile, is 111th in the nation in surrendering sacks, giving up 2.86 per game;

— Washington State has posted 16 Pac-12 wins over the past three seasons, behind only USC (18) and Stanford (17). In that same time frame, Colorado has posted ten Pac-12 victories;

— Hoping not to jinx the Buffs – Part One … Colorado has gone a school-record 13 quarters without a turnover. In fact, the last three full games have been turnover free, which is also a school record (the Buffs had gone back-to-back games without turnovers five times previously). Meanwhile, Washington State had the much-discussed seven turnovers in its loss to Cal, and is 121st nationally in lost turnovers (16);

— Hoping not to jinx the Buffs – Part Two … The Buffs have converted seven straight fourth down conversions, dating back to the UCLA game. The school record for consecutive fourth down conversions is 12 (over 2008-09 seasons); and

— Hoping not to jinx the Buffs – Part Three … Steven Montez has thrown 95 consecutive passes without an interception. There have been eight streaks of 100 passes or more without a pick in CU history, with Sefo Liufau possessing three of those streaks (including the longest, with 152 consecutive passes without an interception between November, 2015 and November, 2016).


Heisman outsiders – Washington State QB Luke Falk … and Colorado RB Phillip Lindsay

Had Washington State found its way into the Apple Cup showdown against Washington as an undefeated and (by then) a top-five ranked team, Luke Falk would have been receiving serious Heisman trophy consideration. On the heels of a 37-3 loss to an unranked Cal team, however, Falk’s Heisman hype has faded.

Meanwhile, with three losses already in the books, Colorado is well off the national radar. So, too, then is its record-setting running back, Phillip Lindsay.

It’s left, then, for fans of both teams to revel in these talented players … while they still have them in uniform.

Luke Falk

— Where to start? Falk is the NCAA’s active career leader in passing yards (13,179), touchdowns (108), yards per game (346.8/game) and total offense (12,803).

— Falk is on the watch lists for the Maxwell Award (best player); Davey O’Brien Award (top quarterback); Johnny Unitas Gold Arm Award (top quarterback); and Walter Camp Award (best player);

— Falk needs 422 yards passing to break Oregon State’s Sean Mannion’s Pac-12 career passing record (13,600);

— Falk finished his career against the Oregon schools with a 7-0 record (4-0 v. Oregon State; 3-0 v. Oregon);

— While Falk is approaching Pac-12 records for passing yards (above) and touchdowns (108 – USC’s Matt Barkley had 116), he is surprisingly low (at least to me) on the all-time NCAA lists … His career passing yards (13,179) is 14th on the all-time list (No. 1 – Case Keenum, Houston, 19,217), while his career touchdowns (108) is only 17th on the all-time list (No. 1 – Case Keenum, Houston, 155).

Phillip Lindsay

— Lindsay has 178 carries for 995 yards and ten touchdowns this fall. With five more yards, Lindsay will become the first Colorado running back in school history with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons (Eric Bieniemy had 1,000-yard campaigns in 1988 and 1990);

— Lindsay is averaging 142.1 yards rushing per game, the sixth-best average in the nation;

— Lindsay is the first player in CU history with over 5,000 yards in career all-purpose yards (3,228 rushing; 869 receiving; 1,077 kickoff returns – 5,174 and counting);

— Lindsay is third on the CU all-time leading rushing list, with 3,228 yards, behind only Rodney Stewart (3,598) and Eric Bieniemy (3,940);

— Lindsay has 869 yards receiving at Colorado, and is looking to become the first CU player in school history with over 1,000 career yards rushing and over 1,000 career yards receiving. His 103 career receptions are a record for Buff running backs, with his 11 receptions in the UCLA game this year a single game record for Buff running backs.


Colorado and Washington State – head-to-head

This will be the 11th all-time meeting between the two teams, in a series dating back to 1981. Colorado holds a 6-4 advantage overall, with the teams splitting the two games played to date in Pullman;

For those old enough to remember, the first meeting between the two schools was a painful one for Buff fans. In the 1981 matchup, Colorado led Washington State, 10-0, at home, with four minutes to play. The Cougars then rallied with the aid of not one, but two, blocked punts, to win, 14-10 (still hurts to think about).

The Buffs did get some redemption the next year in a game played in Spokane. Colorado head coach Bill McCartney picked up career win No. 1 with a 12-0 shutout of the Cougars.

A blocked punt – and a goal-line stand in the final minute – propelled the Buffs to a 20-12 win over the Cougars in 2004 (with the game played in Seattle).

In 2012, the teams played for the first time as members of the Pac-12. Oddly enough, the 8th game in the series was the first played between the two teams in Pullman. The Buffs prevailed, 35-34, on a last minute score in what proved to be the only win in CU’s dreadful 1-11 campaign.

In 2015, the Buffs returned to Pullman to face the 24th-ranked Cougars. Washington State won, 27-3, as the Buffs struggled without Sefo Liufau, who missed the game due to injury.

Last season, the teams played the only game in the series with both teams coming in with a national ranking. No. 12 Colorado, behind Sefo Liufau’s 345 yards passing and 108 yards rushing, held off No. 20 Washington State, 38-24.


Colorado and Washington State … historical

In historical terms, Colorado is one of the top 25 teams in college football history.

In historical terms, Washington State is, well, not.

Washington State is one of only two schools in the Pac-12 (Oregon State being the other) with an all-time record below .500. The Cougars are 536-548-45 (.495) all-time, coming in 92nd out of 129 FBS teams (CU, meanwhile, is 39th, with a .582 all-time winning percentage).

Washington State is back in the polls for the third year in a row. The Cougars, though, have not spent much time being ranked in their history. This week marks the 141st week in the rankings, 56th on the all-time list. Colorado, by comparison, is 26th on the list, with 302 weeks in the polls.

According to Winsipedia, there are other significant gaps between the schools:

— CU has 699 all-time wins (25th); Washington State has 536 (79th);

— CU has produced 31 consensus All-Americans (20th); Washington State has six (62nd); and,

— CU has posted 26 conference championships (10th on the all-time list). Washington State is in contention for conference championship … number 5 (the four former titles ranking the Cougars 97th all-time).


Pac-12 Notes … 

— As noted above, Phillip Lindsay is sixth in the nation in rushing yards per game (142.1). Stanford’s Bryce Love leads the nation, with 198.1 yards per game. Two other Pac-12 players are in the top 20 nationally: Oregon’s Royce Freeman (14th; 113.9 ypg.) and USC’s Ronald Jones (19th; 106.7 ypg.);

— With 140 yards against UCLA, Oregon’s Royce Freeman will become Oregon’s all-time leading rusher;

— The Pac-12 had five players named to the first-team AP midseason All-American team: Stanford running back Bryce Love; Washington State guard Cody O’Connell; Washington all-purpose player Dante Pettis; Utah kicker Matt Gay; and Washington State defensive tackle Hercules Mata’Afa;

— I’ll bet you didn’t know this one department: The winner of the USC/Notre Dame gets possession of … the jeweled Shillelagh. the foot-long Shillelagh (a Gaelic war club made of oak or black-thorn saplings from Ireland – has ruby-adorned Trojan heads with the year and game score representing USC victories, while emerald-studded shamrocks stand for Notre Dame wins.


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