COLORADO (3-5, 0-5 in Pac-12) at WASHINGTON (5-3, 2-3)
5 p.m. Saturday, Husky Stadium
The line: Washington by 28
TV: Pac-12 Networks
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Washington has to win this game.
That's not news. The Huskies are 5-3. Colorado is 3-5, and hasn't beaten a Pac-12 team since its 35-34 stunner at Washington State on Sept. 21 of 2012. I know, because I was there. Not sure I'd believe it if I hadn't been.
In other words: it would take a confluence of bizarre and unexpected events for the Buffaloes (28-point underdogs) to leave Husky Stadium with a victory.
The numbers alone paint a pretty bleak picture for Colorado. They rank 109th in the nation in total defense, 98th in rushing defense, and are last in the Pac-12 in total offense. (Which, by the way, is somewhat incredible, because the Buffaloes average 377.8 yards per game. Kind of a sign of the times that 377 yards per game is worse than every other conference team.)
Have to think the Huskies will go at this one with a gameplan similar to the one they used against California -- a healthy dose of Bishop Sankey, more targets for Jaydon Mickens, and passes by Keith Price off the play-action set up by Sankey.
Speaking of Sankey, he's 533 yards short of UW's single-season rushing record. And if he does as he should and puts up between 150 and 200 yards, he'll be that much closer to the record.
With UW regaining the services of sophomore offensive lineman Dexter Charles, Price should be a little more confident in the pocket, and there's really no reason why he shouldn't have a pretty solid game.
But it's not inconceivable Colorado could hang around. Paul Richardson is a problem for every secondary he plays against, and the Huskies will be no exception. Interested to see how they go about trying to cover him. And to see how freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau, a Tacoma native, responds to playing in front of friends and family. And, too, to see if UW's younger receivers struggle at all, since Marvin Hall and Damore'ea Stringfellow -- and maybe John Ross, too -- are likely to see more significant playing time than they have recently (and, in some cases, more than they've seen at all).
In the end, UW's skill and speed advantage will be too much. But the 28-point spread feels a little heavy here, so let's call it a Buffs cover.
The pick: Washington 42, Colorado 17.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple