Washington State's offense is known for scoring a lot of points in a hurry.

Colorado is confident its defense can slow down the Cougars on Saturday when the two Pac-12 divisional leaders meet up at Folsom Field.

Just in case the game does turn into a shootout, quarterback Sefo Liufau said the 12th-ranked Buffaloes (8-2, 6-1 Pac-12 South) will be ready.

"We're going to play our game, play up-tempo and take what the defense gives us," Liufau said. "We need to be ready as an offense for a shootout. It'll be exciting.

"I expect our defense to stop them, but if they don't, as an offense we need to be ready to score some points and get into a shootout."

The 20th-ranked Cougars (8-2, 7-0 Pac-12 North), led by junior quarterback Luke Falk, rank second in the Pac-12 — and eighth nationally — in scoring, with 44.3 points per game. In the last two weeks, the Cougars have beat up on two of the Pac-12's worst defenses, scoring 69 points against Arizona and 56 against California.

"We're just going to have to be able to play really well and play aggressive at times (on defense)," head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "And hopefully we're able to make more plays than their receivers are able to make and their running backs."


Advertisement

Defensively, CU has held six consecutive opponents below 25 points. Michigan had the highest point total against the Buffs this season, with 45, but only 31 of those were scored by the Wolverines' offense. Oregon, with 38 points, is the only other team to score as many as four touchdowns against the Buffs this season.

CU ranks fifth in the Pac-12 with 35.2 points per game. After a two-game stretch where the Buffs managed just 30 total points, they got back on track during a 49-24 win against Arizona last Saturday.

"When you play a team like Washington State, where they have such a high-powered offense and they score so many points no matter what team they play, I think it's important for us to go out there and have another good performance this week," Liufau said.

The Buffs have hit the 40-point mark six times this season — the same number as Washington State.

"We'll definitely have to score some points," MacIntyre said. "When you're playing in a major game like this with high-powered offenses on both sides of the ball, you're going to have to score some points. Both defenses in their mind think that they can stop both offenses. So I think that's why both teams are doing as well as they are. I think both teams are pretty balanced football teams."

CU is tied with Washington for the best scoring defense in the conference, allowing just 17.9 points per game. WSU allows 24.3 points per game.

Gilbert's impact

Senior outside linebacker Jimmie Gilbert is enjoying his best season and leads the Buffs with 8.5 sacks (the Pac-12 credits Gilbert with nine sacks, which ranks third in the conference).

"He's able to beat guys one-on-one, and you don't always have to blitz with him," MacIntyre said. "It helps because (the opposition) has got to know where he is. It helps us a little bit in coverage also."

This is just the 16th time in school history that a player has reached 8.5 sacks in a season, and Gilbert is the first to do it since Abraham Wright had 11.5 in 2006.

Notable

Left guard Gerrad Kough, who left Saturday's game with a sprained ankle, has yet to practice this week. MacIntyre said they hope Kough will practice on Wednesday. ... Falk has 33 touchdowns and only six interceptions this season. Since the start of the 2015 season, he has thrown 71 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions.

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.