Friday Fast Facts – Colorado at Washington State

Trivia Question of the Week … What is the historical significance of the only game between Colorado and Washington State played in the city of Spokane?

Neill Woelk’s Fast Five Keys for the CU at Washington State

From CUBuffs.com … One week after managing just three points in a loss to Oregon, the Colorado Buffaloes’ have an opportunity to get back into a rhythm Saturday.

When the Buffs (3-3 overall, 1-2 Pac-12) square off in a 5 p.m. matchup with Washington State (3-3, 0-3) at Martin Stadium, they will be facing a defense that is 98th in the nation in points allowed (31.8 per game) and 115th in yards allowed (459.0 per game). It is also a WSU defense that let a 32-point second-half lead slip away earlier this year against UCLA, when the Bruins rallied from a 49-17 deficit to take a 67-63 win.

But in that same vein, an injury-riddled Colorado defense — one that is allowing nearly 34 points per game — must deal with a WSU offense that leads the nation in passing yards (452.7 yards per game) and is seventh in scoring (43.0 per contest).

Still, despite the gaudy numbers, WSU’s offense has not been unstoppable. While the Cougars have scored at least 31 points in five of their six games, they managed only one touchdown and two field goals in a 38-13 loss at Utah.

It leads to all kinds of possibilities, and there is even a wild card in the equation: Saturday’s forecast in Pullman calls for temperatures in the low 40s at kickoff, with a 100 percent chance of rain, along with wind.

Still, we already know this much: one of the teams will end a losing streak. WSU has lost three in a row while Colorado has dropped two straight.

What must the Buffs do to end their skid and extend the Cougars’ woes?

1. Limit WSU’s explosion plays.

2. Limit yards after catch.

3. Run the ball with authority … but hit the occasional big play. 

4. Turnovers and takeaways.

5. Prove they are resilient.

Read full story here

Big Picture

— Colorado and Washington State have each won six games in the series, with Washington State winning three of the last four (the Cougars were nationally ranked in all four of those games. The last time the teams played without WSU being ranked was in 2012 … a 35-34 Colorado victory);

— Washington State’s GameDay flag has now appeared in 233 straight shows, a streak which began in Madison, Wisconsin, on October 18, 2003. Appearance No. 217 was in Pullman, when the Cougars defeated the Oregon Ducks, 34-20, on October 20, 2018;

— This is the second game of back-to-back road trips for the Buffs (playing at Oregon last weekend). Such occasions have not treated Colorado well, with the Buffs going 0-6-2 (six sweeps; two splits);

— Colorado is 708-511-36 all-time (.577). The Buffs are 26th in all-time victories; 36th in all-time winning percentage;

— In the wild 67-63 win by UCLA over Washington State, the teams combined for 1,377 total yards, 1,077 yards through the air;

— Washington State is 15-2 at home over the past three seasons, with the only losses coming in the 2018 Apple Cup loss to Washington, and to UCLA the last time the Cougars played at home;

— Colorado is 11-4 all-time in games played on October 19th. Some memorable games:

— The CU/Washington State game will be telecast nationally by the ESPNU, with Roy Philpott on the play-by-play; (former CSU quarterback) Kelly Stouffer on color; and Lauren Sisler on the sidelines. KOA radio will have Mark Johnson with the play-by-play, and former CU head coach Gary Barnett handling the commentary.

Mel Tucker’s Podcast

Coach Mel Tucker has a weekly podcast, hosted by KOA’s Mark Johnson. So far, Coach Tucker has interviewed Rick George, Kordell Stewart, Matt Russell, Alfred Williams, Jeremy Bloom, Marwan Hage, and Jim Hansen.

The most recent interview, with former Buff great Bobby Anderson, can be found here

Buffs v. Cougars

— CU and Washington State have played only 12 times, but two of the Buffs’ six wins have come under unusual circumstances. In both the 1982 12-0 win and the 2004 20-12 win, the Buffs won without scoring an offensive touchdown. In 1982, four Tom Field field goals did the trick. In 2004, two Mason Crosby field goals, a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown (by Lawrence Vickers) and an interception for a touchdown (Joe Sanders) accounted for CU’s touchdown. Since the 2004 game – 15 years ago – the Buffs haven’t won another game without scoring an offensive touchdown;

Bar bet winner … Mike Leach has a losing record against Colorado. Leach is 4-5 all-time against Colorado – His record while in Pullman against the Buffs is 3-2, but Leach started out with a 1-3 record against the Buffs … while in Lubbock as the coach of Texas Tech. The Buffs defeated the Red Raiders 37-13 in 2002, (despite Kliff Kingsbury’s 65 pass attempts); 30-6 in 2006 (Dan Hawkins’ first win – after six losses), and 31-27 in 2007 (in what would prove to be CU’s last road win for four years). Leach’s only win over CU in Big 12 play came in 2003, a 26-21 in Lubbock.

Something has to give Department … Actually, instead of having stats where the Buffs and Cougars are at odds, most of the stats line up well (or scarily). For instance, Washington State is No. 1 in the nation in passing offense … while Colorado is 123rd in pass defense. Washington State is also No. 1 in the country in tackles for loss allowed … while Colorado is 129th in tackles for loss. As close as you get to a positive stat comparison for CU – the Buffs are 15th in the nation in kickoff returns, while the Cougars are 117th in kickoff return defense (though

Injury Report

— The CU injury report …

  • Out for the season … running back Jarek Brousard – knee surgery September 6th; cornerback Chris Miller – torn ACL, season-ending surgery on October 4th; cornerback Mehki Blackmon – shoulder surgery October 8th;
  • Out … defensive back Dustin Johnson – back surgery on August 6th;
  • Out indefinitely … offensive guard Colby Pursell – has had his gall bladder removed;
  • Day-to-Day … defensive end Mustafa Johnson – ankle sprain; nose tackle Jalen Sami – undisclosed.

Player Notes … 

— Captains for the Washington State game … Junior linebacker Nate Landman; senior quarterback Steven Montez; and senior tight end/special teams specialist Beau Bisharat;

— Senior quarterback Steven Montez is second on the all-time passing charts in yards (8,435). Montez still has a ways to go to get to No. 1 Sefo Liufau (9,568);

— Junior linebacker Nate Landman leads the Buffs with 76 tackles, over twice as many as No. 2 on the list (Mikial Onu, with 37). Landman had 16 unassisted tackles against Oregon, tied for the fifth-most in a game in CU history;

— Sophomore running back Alex Fontenot had 71 yards rushing against Oregon, moving him up to 506 career rushing yards, and into the Top 100 on the CU all-time list (96th);

— Junior kicker James Stefanou made his first field goal attempt against Oregon, making him 10-for-10 to open the season, tying him with Mason Crosby for the school record. Stefanou missed his second attempt, leaving him tied with Crosby;

— The uniform combination for this weekend – white helmets; white uniforms; gold pants.

Colorado and Washington State – historical

In historical terms, Colorado is one of the top 25 (okay, top 26) 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 553-556-45 (.499) all-time, with the 553 wins 78th on the all-time list (Colorado, meanwhile, has 708 all-time wins, 26th nationally). Washington State was up to .500 all-time three games ago, but with its current three-game losing streak, has slid back under .500;

— Washington State opened the season in the national polls, the fifth straight season the Cougars have spent time being ranked. The Cougars, though, have not spent much time being ranked in their history. Washington State has appeared in 161 weekly polls, 54th on the all-time list. Colorado, by comparison, is 27th on the list, with 304 weeks in the polls;

— A few other tidbits … Conference championships – Colorado 26th (10th); Washington State 4 (95th) … All time NFL draft picks – Colorado 272 (23rd); Washington State 193 (47th) … Consensus All-Americans – Colorado 31 (21st); Washington State 8 (56th).

Colorado and Washington State – head-to-head

This will be the 13th all-time meeting between the two teams, in a series dating back to 1981. The series is tied, 6-6, with CU holding a 3-2 lead in games played in the state of Washington (1-0 in Seattle; 1-0 in Spokane; 1-2 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.

In 2016, in 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.

In 2017, the last game played in Pullman, the Cougar defense was the story, with No. 15 Washington State posting the first shut out of the Buffs in 60 games, taking out the Buffs, 28-0.

Pac-12 Notes … 

— Four teams from the Pac-12 were ranked in the eighth week of the Associated Press poll … No. 12 Oregon; No. 13 Utah; No. 17 Arizona State; and No. 25 Washington;

— There are only three games this weekend involving ranked teams, with two of those games – No. 12 Oregon at No. 25 Washington and No. 17 Arizona State at No. 13 Utah – being Pac-12 games (the other is No. 16 Michigan at No. 7 Penn State;

— Pac-12 National Leaders after Week Six: Washington State, passing offense (452.7 yards/game); Nu’umato Falo, Colorado, fumbles recovered (3); Anthony Gordon, Washington State, passing yards/game (435.3), completions per game (35.17); and total offense/game (442.2);

Trivia Question of the Week … What is the historical significance of the only game played between Colorado and Washington State in the city of Spokane?

Answer … Colorado and Washington State played in Spokane in 1982. Tom Field kicked four field goals in a 12-0 shutout of the Cougars. It was the second game of the Bill McCartney era at Colorado … and Coach Mac’s first win.

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5 Replies to “Friday Fast Facts”

  1. I wondered why Lytle or Stenstrom didn’t get into the blowout last week. There are 2 possible reasons. 1. Tucker didn’t want to expose either to the Oregon defense. or 2. Neither are considered to be the QB of the future so Tucker figures, why bother? I think it more the latter than the former. If I recall correctly, Noyer was the primary backup last year and he is now playing Safety. That indicates to me that Noyer has athletic skills that the coaches want to utilize, but the other guys don’t. We may have a true freshman playing QB next season.

    Setting Sefo aside, CU’s recent QBs have tended to put up gaudy stats but not put up wins or show leadership when needed most. Montez and Cody are listed among the top 5 statistically but aren’t even in the Top 10 or 15 best QBs in CU history. This is a good example of how statistics can be misleading.

  2. Dang
    Right or wrong its refreshing to see Rob’s in depth tactical analysis. Rob needs to get a job over at the Camera to show em how it is done….except he probably doesnt need the lower pay
    I just checked the forecast and it indeed calls for 100% rain and winds 10 to 20 mph. I doubt if Leach is going to back off the passing a whole lot anyway. Borghi is a tough runner but hasnt shown me any elusive ability. If the Buffs can:

    Keep a consistent north south run game producing first downs.

    Keep Borghi contained on the edges, as a runner and a receiver. The short passes will be predominate even more than they are now.(remember CSU?) Landman will eat him up inside.

    Pray that the weather does a fine job of drowning the Leach air raid

    1. Good catch – got it corrected.
      I guess after a decade and a half of losing, the seasons – and coaches – just start to run together.

  3. I see a potential for a win and a potential for a loss in this one. But here are some things I think are also worth noting:

    1. When Montez is comfortable in the pocket he is a significantly better passer and can put up some great numbers:
    – WSU has a pretty bad pass rush against solid offensive lines. Nearly all of there sacks and pressures were against the bad opponents. Even against UCLA they only managed one sack and no pressures……
    – Montez is a fair weather player. I haven’t checked myself on this one but I cannot think of a bad weather game where Montez balled out…….
    2. Alex Fontenot is slippery. The way he runs the ball he naturally finds holes and weaknesses and forces defenses into bad angles.
    – As Stu noted above WSU is poor at tackling and that is generally because of bad angles. This could be one of our strengths meeting one of their weaknesses…..
    – Our back up offensive lineman are not nearly as good as our starting line. Will Pursell’s back up be ready to play?
    3. WSU lost to UCLA because of turn overs more than anything else.
    – CU is good at getting turn overs and with the exception of the flooky Oregon game pretty good at not giving them up.
    – This CU team has yet to play in cold miserable weather so we will see how good there ball security is in this weather. Look above for my thoughts on Montez in bad weather….
    4. WSU high powered offense seems to only be high powered against bad defenses.
    – CU has a bad defense……..
    – CU has a young defense that is getting valuable experience, learning a new coaching scheme and every game helps them get better….. Will they turn the corner? I like Stu’s point above. Keep everything in front of you, make them earn it down the field in bad weather, give them opportunities to make mistakes…….

    So with all of this what do I think:
    – It likely comes down to Montez. I suspect every coach in the Pac 12 has figured it out (except ASU) that if you can pressure Montez he is not a very good quarterback. So can Montez overcome his bad weather blues? Can the OC build a game plan that gets the ball out of Montez hands quick when pressure is coming? Can the O Line slow down or stop the pressure WSU will come with? My bet is WSU is going to load the box and come on run blitzes. Force CU into our passing game. Expect 8 in the box with 4-5 rushing each down. This will isolate the receivers on the edge. If we can execute we can have a big day. remember it took until 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter for us to start executing at Nebraska…. So as long as the game doesn’t get away we can stay in this game.
    – On defense we do not pressure the quarterback, this means that the WSU QB will likely have nearly all day to find receivers and because we are a bad defense they are going to be there. I think for us to stay in the game we are going to need to get turn overs or WSU fails to execute in bad weather. I think this is the first bad weather game for WSU as well, maybe this qb doesn’t execute in crappy weather either…..

    I want to be positive about this one, but in the end I think we are going to need to score more points than them and I fear that leach and the weather has Montez number. We definitely have a chance but I suspect we will know in the first quarter if Montez can execute…..

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