Washington (6-4) at Colorado (1-9) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Folsom Field (53,613) -- Boulder, Colorado. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Washington 5-1, Colorado 0-4. Away Record: Washington 1-3, Colorado 1-5. Neutral Record: Washington 0-0, Colorado 0-0. Conference Record: Washington 4-3, Colorado 2-4. Series Record: Washington leads 6-5-1.
GAME NOTES: Seeking a strong finish to the season, the Washington Huskies invade Folsom Field to battle the struggling Colorado Buffaloes in Pac-12 action.
The Huskies won three of their first four games, then lost three straight, but after a 34-15 rout of Utah last weekend, they have now won three in a row. The up and down season has resulted in a 6-4 overall mark and a 4-3 ledger in conference play. With the win over the Utes, Washington is bowl eligible for the third straight season, the first time since a three-year bowl streak from 2000 to 2002.
On the other side Colorado has been a much more consistent team although not in the manner the Buffaloes would want. After yet another rout last weekend (56-31 at Arizona) the Buffaloes are now just 1-9 overall. Colorado has lost six straight games entering this matchup and has been outscored 317-68 during that streak. Colorado is fortunate enough to have its lone win be against a conference foe (35-34 at Washington State).
This is only the second season in which Washington and Colorado have shared conference ties. Last season during Colorado's inaugural Pac-12 campaign, Washington rolled up a 52-24 victory on its home field to take control in the all-time series which the Huskies now lead 6-5-1.
For Washington the 34 points it scored against Utah was a huge step forward for its offense. The Huskies are scoring only 22 points per game this season with its season high of 52 points coming against an FCS opponent (Portland State). In a conference that houses such high-octane offenses as Oregon and Arizona, the Huskies have been rather pedestrian picking up 342.6 yards per game which is the third lowest mark in the Pac-12.
Leading the way for the offense is Keith Price. The junior has not been able to recapture the magic of his sophomore season but has still been solid this season. He has completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 2,042 yards and 11 touchdowns but has also been intercepted 10 times. Last year Price finished with 33 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.
Taking in the bulk of Price's throws has been the tandem of Kasen Williams and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Seferian-Jenkins has been particularly productive from the tight end spot with 55 receptions for a team-leading 729 yards and four touchdowns. Both his receptions and yardage totals are single season records for a Washington tight end. Seferian-Jenkins also holds the record for most career receptions by a tight end at Washington with 96. Williams has pulled in a team-high 56 passes for 620 yards and also leads in touchdown receptions (five).
Bishop Sankey, A sophomore running back, has amassed 1,011 yards and 13 touchdowns this season after hIs fifth 100-yard rushing effort of the season against Utah. Sankey is one of only five players in the Pac-12 to have 1,000 yards rushing at this point in the season.
Washington is a middle of the road squad in comparison to the rest of the Pac-12 in terms of defense. The Huskies are giving up 372.9 yards of total offense (fifth in Pac-12) and 25.2 points per game (eighth). Washington has really struggled with creating pressure on opposing backfields with a conference worst 47 tackles for loss and 17 sacks.
Linebacker John Timu has been at the center of the defense and has contributed across the board. Timu has a team-high 61 tackles has collected a pair of interceptions and has forced a fumble. Andrew Hudson has been the best version of a pass rusher with a team-leading 4.5 sacks. The secondary has strength with safety Sean Parker (56 tackles) and Shaq Thompson (57 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2 INTs).
Although Colorado suffered a defeat against Arizona, it can take away some positives from the trip to Tucson. The Buffaloes finished with 437 yards of total offense which was the second highest total for Colorado this season and came a week after it finished with only 76 total yards. Offensive success like that has been rare for Colorado which ranks last in the conference in both total offense (306.8 ypg) and scoring (17.6 ppg).
With such weakness on offense Jon Embree let his quarterbacks compete last week for the starting job against Arizona. Sophomore Nick Hirschman won the job and played reasonably well. He threw for 123 yards on 12-of-13 passing but could sit out this week due to concussion-like symptoms. If Hirschman can't go then fellow sophomore Connor Wood will get the start. Wood came in the third quarterback for Hirschman last weekend and connected on 4-of-7 pass attempts for 90 yards and his first career touchdown pass.
In a season that has had very little success, Colorado can take some solace in the play of Christian Powell. The freshman running back gives the Buffaloes a building block for the future as he has rushed for 625 yards and seven touchdowns this season. His rushing total is the fourth most in a single season by a freshman. Powell has rushed for more than 100 yards three times this season including his 137-yard effort against Arizona last weekend.
Not surprisingly Colorado has been just as bad on defense. The Buffaloes are ranked at the very bottom of the Pac-12 in both scoring (47.2 ppg) and total defense (505.0 ypg). In fact Colorado is the only team in the conference to be giving up more than 35 pointS and 500 yards per game.
Derrick Web leads the team in tackles with 82, while Terrel Smith has 69 stops out of the secondary. Chidera Uzo-Diribe leads the team in sacks (six) but has not recorded a quarterback takedown in the last four weeks. Uzo-Diribe's inability to get pressure of last has hurt Colorado as it is tied with Washington for the second fewest sacks in the Pac-12 (17).
The Huskies have really elevated their play at the right time. Price is getting into a more consistent rhythm and the multitude of offensive weapons the Huskies possess has really blossomed.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Washington 38, Colorado 14