Washington Huskies vs. Colorado Buffaloes
Date and Time: Saturday, September 23, 2017, 10 p.m. ET
Location: Folsom Field, Boulder, CO
Opening College Football Odds: Washington -10
Washington vs. Colorado TV Coverage: FOX Sports 1
Is Washington going to play in the CFP for a second straight season? It's hard to say that it will, but it's also hard to pinpoint a game on the schedule and say, "That's the one this team will lose." Even still, as we saw last season, one loss is far from an eliminator nowadays for the Playoff, and the Huskies will have some breathing room if they keep playing impressive football.
Jake Browning is again one of the more impressive quarterbacks in America from a statistical standpoint. He has completed 74.4 percent of his passes for 798 yards. Sure, his touchdowns are down with just eight, but let's keep in mind that he's only thrown the ball 78 times in three games, too.
Dante Pettis has scored a total of six touchdowns for the Huskies this year, and he's clearly the team's leading receiver with 12 catches and 209 yards.
Steven Montez was asked to come off the bench last year in the Pac-12 Championship Game after Sefo Liufau was picked off three times and went just 3-for-13 passing. Montez didn't fare much better, going 5-for-12 for 60 yards. That said, this team is now Montez's, and he has to be a star in this game to give the Buffs a shot.
The early returns have been okay, but nothing remarkable. Montez is averaging 8.5 yards per pass attempt and has six touchdowns, but he's also been picked off three times by a combination of Northern Colorado, Texas State and Colorado State.
If Colorado is going to win this game, it's going to be with its pass defense. This secondary is still one of the better in the country that you don't know much about, and that's really a testament to the job that Mike MacIntyre has done over the course of the last several seasons.
Browning completed just nine passes in the Pac-12 Championship Game on 23 attempts, numbers that he's nowhere near used to putting up.
The opportunity is going to be there for Colorado to slow down the Washington offense. Aside from Pettis, there aren't nearly as many weapons out on the field this year as Chris Petersen had at his disposal a campaign ago. If the Buffaloes can get on the front foot defensively and get the crowd into this game, this could be a much different result.
Washington vs. Colorado Free Picks
Colorado fell just short of the Rose Bowl last season, and it was a sin that that's what it all came down to. MacIntyre took over a program that had absolutely nothing going for it and turned it into a team that could be considered one of the 25 or so best in the nation in a relatively short period of time.
Montez is going to be crucial in this game. He has to have learned from his mistakes and the mistakes of Liufau against this defense. The good news is that John Ross isn't here anymore to make big plays for the Huskies, and this secondary isn't nearly as talented now as it was then.
The Huskies are still sporting that top five ranking, but we aren't so sure that it's all justified. This is going to be a close call for sure, and we wouldn't be shocked if the best college football sportsbooks are paying off upsets come early Sunday morning when this one is said and done with.
College Football ATS Pick: Colorado +10 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Colorado 34, Washington 31