Washington State 28, Colorado 0
How it happened: The Buffs had their worst performance of the year, and maybe their worst in a few years. They played a decent game on defense, but it didn't matter, as the offense was inept all night.
Turning point: With 11:25 to play in the second quarter, Washington State's Luke Falk threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Tay Martin for the first score of the game. Given the Buffs' inability to do anything offensively, that was all the Cougars needed.
CU's stars of the game
RB Phillip Lindsay: He rushed for 98 yards on 29 carries.
S Evan Worthington: He had six tackles, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery.
Bottom line: The Buffs fell to .500 (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) and reduced their already slim margin for error to make a bowl game.
PULLMAN, Wash. — On Saturday night, Colorado quarterback Steven Montez spent the second half standing in the rain and watching his team stumble to another Pac-12 loss.
Montez will spend this week trying to keep his starting job.
CU's disappointing season hit its low point in a 28-0 loss to No. 15 Washington State at Martin Stadium, with the offense disappearing and its postseason hopes seemingly fading by the week.
"Washington State played great tonight and we didn't play very well at all," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said after his team fell to 4-4 overall, 1-4 in the Pac-12. "It was definitely a poor, poor performance, especially offensively. That was the worst offensive performance I think we've had since I've been the coach here, and we had a lot of bad performances our first couple of years because we didn't have as much talent."
It was a bad enough performance that MacIntyre benched Montez, who has started all season and said the competition for the starting role is now open.
"Oh yeah," he said. "As bad as we looked, yes."
It was the first shutout loss by the Buffs since a 48-0 defeat against Stanford on Nov. 3, 2012, and the first time they were held without a touchdown since their last trip to Pullman, a 27-3 loss on Nov. 21, 2015.
On a cold, rainy night, the play of the quarterbacks was only part of the problem for the Buffs.
Left tackle Jeromy Irwin was ejected for targeting. Star cornerback Isaiah Oliver and center Jonathan Huckins were injured. The defense was better than it has been in recent weeks, but not good enough.
Yet, with punter Alex Kinney being the arguably the top offensive weapon, MacIntyre seemed most bothered by the play of the quarterbacks.
Montez, who was instrumental in leading the Buffs to a 36-33 win at Oregon State a week ago, had by far the worst start of his career. He completed just 4-of-13 passes for 21 yards, starting 0-for-7.
"Steven didn't play very well at all," MacIntyre said. "He didn't play good. He didn't make his reads, he didn't make his throws; he didn't play well.
"You saw the first half. I wasn't going to do that the rest of the game."
When the Buffs came out of the locker room for the second half, redshirt freshman Sam Noyer took over. He wasn't much better, completing 7-of-18 passes for 53 yards.
"He hasn't had a lot of (playing) time, so we gave him a little bit tonight," MacIntyre said of Noyer. "Hoped he would have done a little bit better."
In his first season as the full-time starter, Montez has had his ups and downs, but came into the night ranking sixth in the Pac-12 in pass efficiency. Yet, this wasn't the first time MacIntyre has contemplated a change.
"I thought about it a couple times, but then (Montez) would come back and play well," MacIntyre said. "We've given Sam a lot of reps in practice and we'll see what happens this week. Who plays best this week is who plays best in the game. If they're not playing well, I'll pull the other guy.
"We've got to have more consistency on offense if we're going to win any more Pac-12 games. Hopefully one of those quarterbacks will play better against Cal (on Saturday) or we won't have a chance to win."
The Buffs didn't have much of a chance on the Palouse, despite their defense playing better.
After back-to-back poor performances against Arizona and Oregon State, the CU defense limited Washington State to 406 yards and forced the Cougars to punt seven times.
Still, Cougars' quarterback Luke Falk tossed three touchdown passes and Wazzu ran for a season-high 194 yards.
"We got them off the field a lot, but there's also some times where we messed up," safety Evan Worthington said.
Despite CU's defense playing better, the Cougars were never in danger of losing, because the Buffs couldn't get anything going on offense.
Running back Phillip Lindsay finished with 98 yards on 29 carries, but he was about the only bright spot.
The Buffs managed just 174 total yards and kept Kinney busy, with 10 punts on the night. One of those was muffed by the Cougars and recovered by the Buffs at the WSU 25.
Although down 21-0, that play gave the Buffs a chance to get back in the game. But, the offense could manage just eight yards on four plays before giving the ball back to the Cougars.
"It was frustrating," Montez said of the night for the offense. "That just sums it up for everybody. We had a hard time moving the ball. We couldn't really throw it, couldn't really run it and it was just frustrating."
With four games to play, the Buffs have to somehow find two wins to achieve bowl eligibility. That was of no concern to MacIntyre, though.
"I'm not worried about the last four; I'm worried about Cal," he said. "We have to find a way to beat Cal. We can beat everybody we have left to play, there's no doubt about it, and we can lose to every one of them, so we have to find a way to get it done."
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.