CU at Washington State: “T.I.P.S.” for the Battle for the Pac-12 Basement

… Related … If you prefer your predictions verbally (and from more than one voice), “CU at the Game Podcast: “T.I.P.S.” for CU at Washington State, can be found at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or pretty much wherever you download your favorites. Or, if you would prefer, you can listen to this week’s Washington State preview podcast here .

Colorado opened the 2023 season with a 3-0 record, climbing to No. 19 in the Associated Press poll.

Washington State opened the 2023 season with a 4-0 record, climbing to No. 13 in the Associated Press poll.

Since then, the two teams have combined to go … 1-12.

CU’s win over Arizona State is the only win for either team in the past two months; two months which have been tough on the fan bases of the Buffs and Cougars.

Washington State has suffered only one blowout loss, falling 44-6 to Arizona; Colorado has suffered only one blowout loss, falling 42-6 to Oregon. Both teams have suffered frustrating losses, including last weekend, when the Buffs fell 34-31 to No. 23 Arizona, while the Cougars fell to the Cal Bears, 42-39.

Washington State and Colorado are both 1-6 in Pac-12 play, tied for last place. The loser of this game will likely finish the 2023 season in the basement in the Pac-12’s final season.

Which team will limp out of their disappointing season with a little extra pride?

Let’s find out …


This Week’s “T.I.P.S” for Colorado at Washington State – Friday, 8:30 p.m., MT, FS1

T – Talent

It seems almost quaint now.

In January, 2022, Incarnate Word quarterback Cam Ward transferred to Washington State. Reports varied, but there was little doubt that Washington State boosters played a significant role in bringing the four-star quarterback to Pullman. While the NIL deals given to Ward at the time were scandalous, they pale in comparison to NIL deals collegiate athletes (including Shedeur Sanders and Travis Hunter) are receiving just 18 months later.

Ward has done his part in trying to create wins, but his supporting cast, like that of Shedeur Sanders, hasn’t been able to keep up.

Truth be told, Colorado and Washington State have more in common than their 4-6 records.

Shedeur Sanders is 5th in the nation in passing yards (3,144); Cam Ward is right behind in seventh, with 3,127.

Colorado is dead last in the nation in rushing (69.9 yards/game), but Washington State is only two rungs above the Buffs, at 81.0 yards/game (128th).

Colorado is 129th in the nation in sacks allowed; Washington State is 112th.

So … two offenses which can throw the ball, but can’t protect their quarterbacks. Two offenses which can’t run the ball effectively.

Colorado actually has two (two!) running backs who have more rushing yards this season than WSU’s leading rusher, Nakia Watson, who has 210 yards on 70 carries (CU’s Dylan Edwards has 278 yards rushing; Anthony Hankerson has 272). Cam Ward, despite being sacked 31 times, is nonetheless Washington State’s second-leading rusher, with 136 yards … with six rushing touchdowns (Note to CU defense: keep a spy on Cam Ward, or he will gain yards with his feet as well as his arm).

Buff fans will need to keep their eyes on three receivers who are having good seasons for the Cougars. Lincoln Victor has 73 catches for 723 yards and four touchdowns; Kyle Williams has 711 yards on 53 catches with four touchdowns; while Josh Kelly has 47 catches for 687 yards and seven scores. (For comparison’s sake: CU’s Xavier Weaver has 867 yards receiving and four touchdowns, with Jimmy Horn and Travis Hunter both in the 500s in receiving yards).

When the Buffs are on offense, they will have to account for edge rusher Ron Stone, Jr., named to the preseason All Pac-12 team, and already a Pac-12 Defensive Player-of-the-Week award winner.

Overall, the Washington State defense is better than CU’s, but only marginally so. The Cougars are giving up 411.2 yards/game of total offense, 101st in the nation (Colorado is 129th in total defense).

Two weeks ago, the Cougar defense was on its game, giving up only 217 yards of total offense to Stanford … but Washington State still lost, 10-7.

Last weekend, the Cougar defense held the Cal offense to only 327 yards of total offense, but four turnovers by the offense, two of which resulted in defensive scores by the Bears, doomed the Cougars to a 42-39 loss.

So … the Washington State defense has been playing better of late (just like CU’s), but, just like CU, the results have still been disappointing losses.


I – Intangibles

Homeless … The “The Pac-2 v. the Pac-10” is coming to a head. On Tuesday, Whitman County (Washington) Superior Court Judge Gary Libey on Tuesday ruled that Oregon State and Washington State will be the only two governing and voting members of the Pac-12 board.

Libey granted OSU and WSU the preliminary injunction both schools have sought. He will grant a stay on the preliminary injunction only until the end of the week.

While Buff fans may tangentially be interested as to how much Colorado may lose to Washington State and Oregon State in the courtroom, Washington State – and its players and coaches – have much more at stake.

Not only are there dollars at stake for the Orphan Two, but the future of their programs. Imagine if CU was without a conference for 2024, and had no schedule.

Coaches and players, with a 4-6 record and two games left in a disappointing season, have to have at least one eye on where they will be next season.

Will Washington State be playing basically a Mountain West schedule? Will the Cougars be independent? Will recruits sign on with the team (Signing Day is only five weeks away!).

While the Cougars coaches and staff certainly want to put their best feet forward – if only as an audition for their next team – it has to be a distraction.

Doesn’t it?


P – Preparation/Schedule

Sellout? … CU has played before ten straight sellout crowds, and will likely face a hostile sellout crowd in Salt Lake City next week against Utah. So … the only game standing between CU and a full season of sold out stadia is Washington State. Gesa Field is the smallest stadium in the Pac-12, with a capacity of only 32,592, but in the Cougars’ last home game, against Stanford, only 24,385 showed up.

We’ll see if CU’s string of sellout games will come to an end this weekend …

Nothing to play for? … Colorado and Washington State are both 4-6. Colorado and Washington State are both chasing bowl eligibility.

Colorado and Washington State both saw any realistic chances at a bowl bid pass last weekend.

For the Buffs, a win over Arizona last weekend would have gotten CU to five wins, with a victory over the Cougars a realistic hope for a sixth win. Game 12 is on the road against Utah … not a likely win. As a result, thinking about a bowl game is a pipe dream for CU and its fans.

For the Cougars, a win over Cal last weekend would have gotten Washington State to five wins, with a victory over the Buffs a realistic hope for a sixth win. Game 12 is on the road against Washington … not a likely win. As a result, thinking about a bowl game is a pipe dream for Washington State and its fans.

In a contest where neither team has anything left to play for … you would usually go with the home team, right?

Weather … When Coach Prime was hired, much was made of him never living in a cold weather state (remembering him saying he had never played in snow during his NFL career?). After the spring game was played after a snow storm, speculation continued as to whether Coach Prime would be able to handle the weather of Boulder.

Well, CU’s six regular season home games are in the books, and the weather was never really a factor. A late night game in mid-November in Pullman was a set up for lousy weather, but the Buffs will luck out once again. Weather was supposed to be a reason for Coach Prime to want to leave Boulder … but the high this Friday will be in the 40’s, with little chance of precipitation …


S – Statistics 

Red Zone masters … For a team which is struggling, the Buffs have been outstanding on both sides of one statistic … Red zone production. The Buffs are 35-for-36 in scoring on red zone opportunities (97%; 3rd in the nation), with 26 touchdowns (the only painful miss? An interception in the second overtime against Stanford). Meanwhile, CU opponents have failed to score on ten red zone opportunities (34-of-44, 77% … leaving CU at 28th in the nation in red zone defense);

Turnovers … Colorado failed to force a turnover against Arizona, one of the worst teams in the country in turnover margin. In a game which one stopped drive or one short field for the offense could have resulted in a different result, the failure of the CU defense to generate a turnover against the Wildcats was significant.

Washington State, like Arizona, is prone to turnovers. The Cougars have suffered 17 turnovers, ranking WSU 98th in the nation. Can the Buff defense come to the aid of the CU offense, and help generate enough points to pull out a road win?;

Make it to the fourth quarter? … Colorado has held its own in the first quarter this season, with the Buffs and their opponents each scoring 62 total points through the first ten games. Where the Buffs have gotten into trouble has been in the second and third quarters, when CU has been out-scored 97-72 and and 81-49.

The fourth quarter, though, has belonged to the Buffs. CU has a 102-82 advantage this season in the final stanza (though some of those scores came in lopsided losses, with the game already decided);

— Shedeur Sanders records watch … Shedeur Sanders is on pace to reset most of the single season passing in CU history, and is among the national leaders in many categories. As the season is drawing to a close it’s time to track how Sanders is progressing:

  • Passing yards: 3,144 … CU single season record: 3,200 … Sefo Liufau, 2014 (Sanders’ total is currently 2nd on the list – after ten games)
  • Passing touchdowns: 26 … CU single season record: 28 … Sefo Liufau, 2014 (Sanders’ total currently second)
  • Passing attempts: 420 … CU single season record: 498 … Sefo Liufau, 2014 (Sanders’ total currently 3rd)
  • Completions: 292 … CU single season record: 325 … Sefo Liufau, 2014 (Sanders’ total currently 2nd)
  • Completion percentage: 69.5 … CU single season record: 68.4 … Koy Detmer, 1995 … If maintained, Sanders will set a new school record
  • Total offense (plays): 526 … CU single season record: 567 … Sefo Liufau, 2014 (Sanders’ total is currently 2nd)
  • Total offense (yards): 3,093 … CU single season record: 3,336 … Sefo Liufau, 2014 (Sanders’ total is currently 4th)

Prediction … 

It’s been a tough month for the Buffs, and the Buff Nation. In the upcoming off-season, we’ll have plenty of time to dissect the one-score losses – and not give the Buffs enough credit for their one-score wins.

The Buffs have been underdogs ever since their unforgettable and unforgivable loss to Stanford.

— Against No. 23 UCLA, the Buffs were 13.5-point underdogs, and lost by 12, 28-16.

— Against No. 16 Oregon State, the Buffs were again 13.5-point underdogs, and lost by seven, 26-19.

— Against No. 21 Arizona, the Buffs were 8.0-point underdogs, and lost by three, 34-31.

Now the Buffs are 5.5-point underdogs to an unranked Washington State team which has lost six straight games.

No real logic here, but with Utah up next week, this is likely to be my last chance to pick a CU victory before next September’s season opener against North Dakota State.

Go Buffs! …

Prediction … Colorado 27, Washington State 24

2023 Predictions: Straight up: 7-3; Against the Spread: 6-4

  • Prediction: No. 17 TCU 33, Colorado 21 … Actual: Colorado 45, No. 17 TCU 42
  • Prediction: No. 22 Colorado 34, Nebraska 21 … Actual: No. 22 Colorado 36, Nebraska 14
  • Prediction: No. 18 Colorado 42, Colorado State 17 … Actual: No. 18 Colorado 43, Colorado State 35, 2OT
  • Prediction: No. 10 Oregon 40, No. 19 Colorado 17 … Actual: No. 10 Oregon 42, No. 19 Colorado 6
  • Prediction: No. 8 USC 45, Colorado 24 … Actual: No. 8 USC 48, Colorado 41
  • Prediction: Colorado 31, Arizona State 21 … Actual: Colorado 27, Arizona State 24
  • Prediction: Colorado 31, Stanford 17 … Actual: Stanford 46, Colorado 43, 2OT
  • Prediction: No. 23 UCLA 34, Colorado 2o … Actual: No. 23 UCLA 28, Colorado 16
  • Prediction: No. 16 Oregon State 30, Colorado 2o … Actual: No. 16 Oregon State 26, Colorado 19
  • Prediction: No. 23 Arizona 31, Colorado 17 … Actual: Arizona 34, Colorado 31

  • 2022 Predictions … (Straight up: 10-2; Against the Spread: 9-3) …
  • 2021 Predictions … (Straight up: 9-3; Against the Spread: 7-5) … 


8 Replies to ““T.I.P.S.” for CU at WSU”





  2. If I was ever tempted to predict a score it might have been before the Stanford game. The game against Arizona should have been the bowl qualifier.
    I heard a short bit of Full Ride this morning. They were interviewing the AZ coach who said his first recruiting class set the basis for their current success, such as it maybe, and said he has been building on that primarily as opposed to the portal. Rick went on to say those “have not” schools who have trouble bringing in the four stars but had coaches who could ID potential in and develop 3 stars would still succeed. The portal lost the battle last game vs the recruits.

    1. That’s an extremely short-sighted view. Fisch has had three years to build a program … and was 1-11 in Year One.
      If you want to compare portal v. recruits, you need to give an equal amount of time to both methodologies.

      By your logic … portal in Year One beat out recruit Year One … and by a wide margin.

      1. I agree the underlying theme here is getting the team to be a consistent team by playing together for longer than a year. By going overboard on the portal every year that kinda defeats he concept. I see another big movement in and out of the portal for the Buff’s this year because Sanders has no other option. Maybe he will have better luck with the incoming players this year and players with more than one year to play. Maybe he will clamp down on the videos which I believe leads more to players into themselves other than the team.

        1. Yup, imnsho,

          The videos are and issue. So many, Too many. Mostly the same guys. Jr joking.

          Don’t watch them any more.

          Poor over saturation marketing

          Go Buff.

          Win Two

  3. Well if there is ever a chance to end the losing streak it is now, I’ve got that feeling
    CU-24, WSU-20
    ATS 4-6, SU 8-2

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