Buffaloes at a glance
Record: 10-2, 8-1 Pac-12
Passing — Sefo Liufau, Sr.: 179-of-277, 2,150 yards, 11 TD, 3 INT
Rushing — Phillip Lindsay, Jr.: 211 carries, 1,136 yards, 15 TD
Receiving — Devin Ross, Jr.: 65 catches, 758 yards, 5 TD
Tackles — Kenneth Olugbode, Sr.: 116 tackles (80 solo), 6 TFL
3 questions facing CU
1. Are the Buffs ready to compete on this stage?
For most of the season, CU has gone about its business without garnering much attention. Over the last couple of weeks, as the stakes got higher, more praise and more attention has been given to the Buffs, and they've handled it well. This week goes to another level, though. There is more hype and more at stake on Friday than for any game CU has played in 11 years. Their ability to embrace the moment will be a key to their success.
2. Can the defense slow down Washington's passing attack?
Washington quarterback Jake Browning ranks fourth nationally in pass efficiency, and his two top targets — John Ross and Dante Pettis — rank among the national leaders with 16 and 14 touchdowns receptions, respectively. CU has to find a way to put some pressure on Browning on disrupt his timing. On the back end, CU's stellar secondary has to rise to the occasion and prove it truly is one of the elite groups in the country.
3. Will CU be able to generate enough offense to win?
Several times this year — against USC, Stanford, UCLA and Utah — the offense sputtered and struggled to put points on the board. The Buffs managed to win three of those games because the defense was spectacular. Facing a high-powered Washington offense, however, CU is likely going to need a strong performance on offense to have a chance. The offensive line needs its best game, and Sefo Liufau has to be as sharp as ever.
Bottom line: All year, the Buffs have worked to get to this game. Now that they are here, they need to prove they belong here. The Buffs have a chance to win a Pac-12 championship, earn their first-ever trip to the Rose Bowl and — if the stars align around the country — maybe even get into the College Football Playoff. It's an opportunity they can't let slip away.
Huskies at a glance
Record: 11-1, 8-1 Pac-12
Passing — Jake Browning, So.: 214-of-329, 3,162 yards, 40 TD, 7 INT
Rushing — Myles Gaskin, So.: 198 carries, 1,180 yards, 10 TD
Receiving — John Ross, Jr.: 72 catches, 1,071 yards, 16 TD
Tackles — Budda Baker, Jr.: 61 tackles (45 solo), 9 TFL (Junior Victor Azeem leads the team with 67 tackles, but he is out for the season with a leg injury)
3 questions facing Washington
1. Will the Huskies be able to handle the moment?
Like Colorado, the Huskies are in the Pac-12 title game for the first time. They hope to handle this better than they did the last time the nation was watching. On Nov. 12, ESPN's GameDay came to Seattle for their battle with USC. That day, the Trojans roughed up the then-unbeaten Huskies. Washington needs a better performance against CU than it had against USC.
2. How will the defense handle Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau?
The worst team in the Pac-12, Arizona, took the Huskies to overtime on Sept. 24, and did so because Wildcats quarterback Brandon Dawkins burned defense all night long. Dawkins ran for 176 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 167 yards and another score. Liufau presents a similar challenge, and maybe even a greater challenge, because he's bigger and stronger than Dawkins. Slowing down Liufau is critical for the Huskies.
3. Can the Huskies make plays on special teams?
All year, Colorado has struggled with its special teams. Talented returners — Michigan's Jabrill Peppers, USC's Adoree' Jackson, Utah's Boobie Hobbs — have burned the Buffs. Washington has two of the best in the country, with John Ross handling kick returns (he has one touchdown this season), and Dante Pettis handling punts (two touchdowns). Big returns from one or both could change this game.
Bottom line: What's at stake for the Huskies? Oh, only everything. Naturally, they want to win the Pac-12 championship, but that's secondary for them at this point. Sitting at No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings, the Huskies are in a prime position to get into the semifinals and play for the national title.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.