Washington State-Colorado preview capsule
No. 10 Washington State (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12, No. 8 CFP) at Colorado (5-4, 2-4), 3:30 p.m. EST (ESPN).
Line: Washington State by 4.
Series record: Colorado leads 6-5.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
The Cougars can’t afford a slip-up as they close in on the Pac-12 title game and maybe much more if things fall right. They are the Pac-12′s last hope for a College Football Playoff berth. At 5-0, the Buffs were the last undefeated team in the Pac-12 and two weeks ago they were 30 minutes away from clinching a bowl berth before blowing a 28-point lead at home to Oregon State. Now they’ve lost four straight and are staring at the possibility of losing out (Utah, at California) and staying home for the holidays.
Cougars QB Gardner Minshew versus Colorado’s patchwork secondary. Minshew is the nation’s leading passer. The senior has thrown for 3,517 yards and 27 TDs and is completing nearly 71 percent of his passes, only seven of which have been picked off. He averages 52 throws a game and Colorado could be without SS Evan Worthington, who missed last week’s game with a concussion he sustained against Oregon State on Oct. 27.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Washington State: QB Gardner Minshew and WR Dezmon Patmon. Although Minshew spreads the ball around — four different players have at least 400 yards receiving — Patmon is his favorite target with 621 yards and three TDs on 44 catches.
Colorado: QB Steven Montez and WR Laviska Shenault Jr. — maybe. The Buffs have sorely missed Shenault, who was a Heisman Trophy hopeful before suffering a turf toe injury on his right foot against Southern California on Oct. 13. He has missed the last three games as the Buffs have continued to slide down the Pac-12 South standings. Coach Mike MacIntyre said he’s still day to day, but Shenault indicated on Instagram this week that he’ll play Saturday.
FACTS & FIGURES
The Buffs’ four consecutive losses include two one-score setbacks. ... Colorado sophomore CB/KR Ronnie Blackmon had a 59-yard punt return at Arizona last week. ... Shenault had 60 catches for 780 yards and six touchdowns when he got hurt, plus 87 yards rushing and five TDs on just 15 carries. ... The Buffs have two other injured WRs: Jay MacIntyre (concussion) and K.D. Nixon (hip), both of whom left last week’s game at Arizona. ... The Cougars won the matchup 28-0 last year in Pullman.