Preview: Washington at Colorado

Tully Corcoran

Washington is having the season Colorado should be having. The Huskies and Buffaloes are pretty closely matched, statistically. Washington runs it pretty well, ranking fourth in the Pac-12, and ranks third in the league in total defense and is the third-least-penalized team in the conference. 

That all has added up to a 6-4 record. Washington is the kind of team that can beat almost anybody. It played Oregon to within four, played Utah to within five and blew out Arizona on the road. But it's also the kind of team that can lose to anybody.  Like Cal, for example, which beat Washington 20-19.

This could be a low-scoring game, despite Colorado's porous defense. Washington has been held to less than 20 points three times this season, although it averages 33 points per game, which is fourth in the Pac-12. 

The key for Colorado might be surviving the first quarter. Washington has dominated the first quarter all season, outscoring opponents 107-13. The Buffaloes, meanwhile, have had the exact opposite problem, getting outscored 82-50 in the first quarter while winning the second and fourth quarters and playing the thirds evenly.

If CU can avoid a slow start, this should turn into a grind-it-out type of game, which Colorado is reasonably well equipped to play ... at least on offense. Colorado has been running the ball better and better as the season progresses, and it's easy to imagine both teams trying to win this game on the ground. 

Washington is the better team, but not by a lot. If Colorado plays a mostly clean game -- low penalties and blown coverages -- the Buffaloes can beat Washington and keep bowl hopes alive going into the final game of the year.