This Pac-12 championship game did not go as planned for former Bellarmine Prep star Sefo Liufau.
Colorado’s senior quarterback was sacked by Huskies linebacker Psalm Wooching on CU’s first possession. Liufau tried to stand up, hobbled some, then fell back to the turf as team trainers rushed out to tend to him.
Eventually, he was able to return to the sideline, where he received more attention from trainers and tried to loosen his hurting ankle.
Colorado played the rest of the first half without him, with backup Steven Montez taking over at quarterback. Montez led one touchdown drive and the Buffaloes trailed 14-7 at halftime.
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When they took the field for the second half, Liufau returned at quarterback, only to throw interceptions on his first two possessions — both to game MVP Taylor Rapp, who returned the first for a touchdown — to essentially seal Colorado’s fate.
Liufau ended up completing 3 of 13 pass attempts for 21 yards, and threw a third interception to UW safety Zeke Turner on the final play of the third quarter.
Liufau refused to blame the mistakes on his ankle, saying instead that “I really messed up, to say the least.”
“I’m just frustrated with myself, and how I played for these guys tonight,” Liufau said.
Colorado still has a chance to play in the Rose Bowl, with UW likely headed to the College Football Playoff.
If the Buffaloes are the highest-ranked Pac-12 team (behind UW) when the final rankings are released on Sunday, the Rose Bowl will be obligated to invite them.
Washington has played its last seven games without starting buck linebacker Joe Mathis, who is out for the season with a foot injury. On Friday, the Huskies played without Mathis’ backup, junior Connor O’Brien, who was apparently injured during last week’s Apple Cup game against Washington State.
With O’Brien sidelined, redshirt freshman Benning Potoa’e, the former Lakes High School star, made his first career start. Potoa’e finished with one tackle, though it was for a loss.
Jake Browning threw two touchdown passes to increase his season total to 42, tied for second-most in Pac-12 history with Marcus Mariota and one behind Jared Goff’s record of 43, set last season. … John Ross caught his 17th touchdown pass of the season, good for second-most in Pac-12 history and one shy of Mario Bailey’s record of 18, set in 1991. … Ten of UW’s 12 victories this season have come by margins of 24 or more points. … Browning’s nine completions were a season low. … Pac-12 North teams have won all six Pac-12 championship games since the league expanded to 12 teams and split into two divisions in 2011. … Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman each rushed for more than 100 yards, the first UW teammates to do that since a Nov. 23, 2013, game against Oregon State.