Andy Cross / The Denver Post
Andy Cross / The Denver Post
Buffaloes at a glance
Last week: Defeated Northern Colorado, 41-21
Steven Montez, So.: 69-for-101, 858 yards, 6 TD, 3 INT
Phillip Lindsay, Sr.: 71 att., 378 yards, 3 TD
Steven Montez, So.: 27 att., 56 yards, 1 TD
Michael Adkins II, Sr.: 9 att., 25 yards
Bryce Bobo, Sr.: 21 catches, 201 yards, 2 TD
Shay Fields, Sr.: 19 catches, 257 yards, 2 TD
Devin Ross, Sr.: 14 catches, 231 yards, 1 TD
LB Drew Lewis, Jr.: 35 tackles (9 solo)
LB Rick Gamboa, Jr.: 27 tackles (5 solo)
DL Leo Jackson III, Sr.: 21 tackles (18 solo)
Where they rank
How the Buffs rank nationally:
Scoring: 62nd (31.7)
Rushing: 85th (148.7)
Passing: 27th (299.3)
Total: 50th (448.0)
3rd downs: 59th (41.9%)
Red zone: 69th (83.3%)
Scoring: 4th (9.0)
Rushing: 29th (105.0)
Passing: 59th (212.7)
Total: 40th (317.7)
3rd downs: 17th (25.5%)
Red zone: 5th (50.0%)
Penalties: 106th (8.67)
Turnover margin: 38th (plus-0.67)
3 questions facing CU
1. Are the Buffs ready for the big stage?
The easy portion of CU’s schedule is over. The Buffs got through it with three wins, but they were underwhelming in the process. This is a game that ought to get the Buffs a little more fired up, and they often rise to the occasion for night games at Folsom Field. Facing one of the top 10 teams in the country, the Buffs have to play better than they have to this point.
2. How good is this defense?
Through two games, the Buffs yielded just two field goals. Then, Northern Colorado hit three long passes for touchdowns last week, and it should have been four. That’s a concern going against an offense that’s much better than UNC. This will be the first significant test for first-year coordinator D.J Eliot and his crew.
3. Will the Buffs match up physically?
Several players who were a part of last year’s Pac-12 title game have stated that the biggest difference between the Buffs and Huskies in that game was Washington’s physicality. Washington overpowered the Buffs in the trenches in that game. To win this game or to even keep it close, the Buffs have to be tougher and assert themselves early.
Bottom line: Since the end of last season, CU has been pointing at one thing and that’s winning the Pac-12. They fell short of that goal last year with a 41-10 loss to Washington in the title game. This is CU’s first opportunity to prove whether it is a legit contender for the conference title this year. The Buffs don’t have to win this game to prove it, but they do have to play well and stand toe-to-toe with the Huskies.
Huskies at a glance
Rankings: No. 7 AP, No. 6 Amway Coaches
Last week: Defeated Fresno State, 48-16
Jake Browning, Jr.: 58-for-78, 798 yards, 8 TD, 1 INT
Myles Gaskin, Jr.: 24 att., 153 yards, 3 TD
Lavon Coleman, Sr.: 24 att., 88 yards, 1 TD
Salvon Ahmed, Fr.: 20 att., 82 yards, 1 TD
Dante Pettis, Sr.: 12 catches, 209 yards, 3 TD
Myles Gaskin, Jr.: 7 catches, 89 yards, 2 TD
Will Dissly, Sr.: 6 catches, 88 yards, 2 TD
LB Ben Burr-Kirven, Jr.: 27 tackles (16 solo)
DB Ezekiel Turner, Sr.: 15 tackles (9 solo)
S Taylor Rapp, So.: 12 tackles (9 solo)
Where they rank
How the Huskies rank nationally:
Rushing: 95th (129.7)
Passing: 25th (301.7)
Total: 58th (431.3)
3rd downs: 80th (38.5%)
Red zone: 22nd (93.8%)
Scoring: 13th (12.3)
Rushing: 21st (93.7)
Passing: 33rd (168.0)
Total: 14th (261.7)
3rd downs: 26th (28.6)
Red zone: 111th (100%)
Penalties: 41st (5.33)
Turnover margin: 17th (plus-1.33)
3 questions facing Washington
1. How good are the Huskies?
After winning the Pac-12 and playing in the College Football Playoff last year, Washington is once again one the elite teams in the country. CU head coach Mike MacIntyre believes the Huskies are even better. Given the early season schedule, it’s been difficult to tell just how good they are at this point. The Huskies have a chance to prove themselves this week
2. Will Dante Pettis break loose?
The Huskies’ senior is one of the best receivers in the country, and he’s got 18 touchdown catches since the start of last season. He’s also the best punt returner in the country. He’s had a punt return for touchdown in each game so far and his eight punt return touchdowns has tied the NCAA career record. Last week, he had three touchdowns as a receiver and one as a returner.
3. Can the defense frustrate Steven Montez?
Last year’s Pac-12 title game turned when the Huskies’ aggressive defense picked off three passes in the third quarter — taking one of them back for a touchdown. Montez is making just the seventh start of his career and will need to remain poised. Washington has some of the best defensive players in the country, and they are sure to do all they can to make life difficult on Montez.
Bottom line: This is a huge game for a Washington team that still needs to prove it can beat good competition. The Huskies are viewed as a national title contender. If they are, they have to play well and come out of Boulder with a win.