The Colorado Buffaloes (1-3) return home from an embarrassing loss to the Ohio St. Buckeyes in Columbus, OH, 37-17. It has been a disappointing start to the Jon Embree era so far, but there is still time to save this season. And it all begins with the Buffs' first official Pac-12 game since the move to the conference (the game against Cal was scheduled before Colorado made the jump) when they play the Washington St. Cougars.
The Buffs will need a quick start on offense and a stout defense to show up immediately. The team's defense has actually looked pretty good outside of its points allowed (though that's the most important thing of all), as the Ralphie Report notes. The Buffs lead the Pac-12 with 15 sacks, including four from Josh Hartigan, tied for the league lead. And, as the Ralphie Report also points out, Tyler Hansen hasn't locked on to Paul Richardson and Rodney Stewart as his main targets. He spread the ball around to six other receivers on half of his passes.
However, the Buffs did appear to see regression in their running game. After recording 98 yards against Colorado State, Rodney Stewart had just 11 carries for 55 yards. As it turned out, Stewart hurt his shoulder. While he practiced this week, how much playing time he receives is still up on the air. Tony Jones is his backup. Combine that with an iffy offensive line and it could be a rough day on the ground. Tyler Hansen might throw, throw and throw some more.
The Cougars are coming off their bye week after a 42-24 loss to the San Diego St. Aztecs two weeks earlier. The Cougars had led 24-14 early in the third quarter, but faded in the fourth when Ronnie Hillman scored two rushing touchdown for the Aztecs.
Marshall Lobbestael has looked impressive in replace of the injured Jeff Tuel. He's passed for 10 touchdowns and thrown just two interceptions. However, he isn't the most mobile quarterback, which could prove tough if the Buffs continue to attack the line. But watch out for Lobbestael and receiver Marquess Wilson to connect multiple times. Rickey Mason and Marcus Mason lead the rushing attack.
Colorado holds a 4-2 series lead over Washington State. They last played in 2004 to conclude a home-and-home series. The Buffs won that one, 20-12, in Seattle.
Game date, time: 1:30 p.m. MT, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011
Location: Folsom Field, Boulder, CO
TV channel: FCS-Pacific
Radio: 850 AM KOA
Spread: The Buffs are favored by three points
For more on this game, visit our Washington State blog CougCenter and our Colorado blog The Ralphie Report.