A shot at bowl eligibility will be on the line when Deion Sanders and Colorado travel to Pullman, Washington, on Friday for a matchup with Washington State. The Buffaloes have lost six of their last seven games after a 3-0 start to the season. Now, they need to run the table during the final two weeks to reach a bowl game for the first time since 2016.
The Buffaloes suffered a last-second 34-31 defeat to Arizona last weekend for their fourth-consecutive loss. They sit at 1-6 in Pac-12 play with the lone conference win coming against Arizona State on Oct. 7.
Washington State’s season has followed a similar trajectory. The Cougars showed promise with a 4-0 start but have since dropped six consecutive games and sit at the bottom of the Pac-12 standings. The Cougars opened the conference slate with a statement win over Oregon State, but losses to Arizona State, Cal and Stanford put their bowl hopes on life support heading into Week 12.
How to watch Colorado vs. Washington State live
Date: Sat. Nov. 17 | Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Gesa Field — Pullman, Washington
TV: FS1 | Live stream: fubo (Try for free)
Colorado vs. Washington State: Need to know
Protecting Shedeur Sanders: Stop me if you have heard this before: The biggest key to this game is the Colorado offensive line keeping Sanders upright. The Buffs have a lethal set of skill players, but Sanders has has been held under 300 yards passing in five of the last seven games, mostly due to a lack of time to throw the ball. Luckily for Sanders, Washington State has struggled to get to the quarterback. The Cougars have produced just 17 total sacks as a team, which is tied for 106th in the FBS. Something will have to give.
Cameron Ward’s struggles: Following Washington State’s Week 4 win over Oregon State, Ward looked like an early Heisman Trophy candidate. His stats through the first four games were eye popping: 1,390 yards passing, 16 total touchdowns and zero interceptions. Since, Ward has thrown only seven touchdowns and five interceptions and WSU is 0-6 in that span. Ward is coming off one of his better performances of the season in the loss to Cal when he threw for 354 yards with four total touchdowns. If Washington State wants to climb out of the Pac-12 cellar, it starts with Ward returning to his early-season form.
Colorado’s defense continues to show signs of improvement: Colorado’s defense has been a punching bag for the majority of the season because of its inability to stop the run or the pass. The Buffaloes rank last in the conference in pass defense and ninth in points allowed. However, in recent weeks, the defense has showed signs of improvement. The Buffaloes forced four turnovers against UCLA on Oct. 28, held Oregon State to 26 points on Nov. 4 and led the majority of the game against Arizona before suffering a last-second loss. The unit still has a long way to go, but steady improvements are something on which to build.
Colorado vs. Washington State prediction
Odds via SportsLine consensus
Friday is a bowl elimination game for someone. The winner of this has a chance to clinch a postseason berth next weekend against a top-25 opponent, but the loser will be looking ahead to 2024. For that reason alone, this game should be close. Add that it’s a Friday night game in the Pac-12 and there is even stronger reason to believe we’ll be treated to some chaos. With Washington State sporting one of the worst pass rushes in the county, Colorado’s lackluster offensives line should be able to keep Sanders safe. The Buffaloes with the points is too tempting, but don’t be surprised if they secure a win on the road outright. Colorado +4.5
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