Live updates, highlights as the Buffaloes and Cougars look to keep their bowl-eligibility hopes alive
Colorado vs. Washington State
Bowl eligibility will be on the line for Deion Sanders and Colorado as they travel to Pullman, Washington, for a matchup with Washington State on Friday. The Buffaloes have lost six of their last seven games after a 3-0 start to the season, while the Cougars are on a six-game skid after a 4-0 start.
With both teams entering the game at 4-6, the winner will remain alive in the bowl-eligibility race while the loser will be out of luck and forced to look toward next season. Colorado hasn’t crossed the six-win mark since the 2016 season, and a 34-31 loss to Arizona last weekend put its hopes at a bowl game in Sanders’ first season at the helm on life support. As for Washington State, it opened Pac-12 play with a statement win over Oregon State, but losses to Arizona State, Cal and Stanford have them in the danger zone heading into Week 12. The stakes couldn’t be higher for this Pac-12 After Dark showdown.
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Shedeur Sanders exits game
It’s been a rough outing thus far for Colorado star quarterback Shedeur Sanders. On Colorado’s second offensive series of the night, Sanders was sacked and Washington State DE Brennan Jackson returned the fumble 40-yards for a touchdown. On the ensuing possession, Sanders was replaced by backup quarterback Ryan Staub and three drives later, Sanders headed to the locker room with an undisclosed injury. It’s unclear whether or not he will return with his team down 28-7 near the end of the first half.
Shedeur Sanders injury: Star QB exits Washington State game with Colorado’s bowl hopes diminishing
Can WSU QB Cameron Ward get back on track?
Once upon a time, Washington State quarterback Cameron 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. The highlight was a Week 4 win over Oregon State, but things have gone downhill since. Ward has thrown only seven touchdowns and five interceptions and WSU is 0-6 since the statement victory. 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 needs to protect Shedeur Sanders
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. If the Buffaloes can give their star quarterback a clean pocket, it will lead to explosive plays.
Will Colorado’s defense meet the moment?
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 pick
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
Colorado vs. Washington State: How to watch live stream, TV channel, kickoff time, odds, prediction
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