CUSportsNation.com staff writers Scott Hood, Jack Stern, and Mike Singer give their game predictions for Colorado's Pac-12 showdown with Washington on Saturday.
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Scott Hood: Washington 27, Colorado 21
"The big mystery surrounding this rematch of last December's Pac-12 Championship game is that neither the Buffs or Washington have yet faced a Power 5 school. UW's non-conference schedule was borderline laughable with Rutgers, Montana and Fresno State. Colorado's was a little better, but only because of the Rocky Mountain Showdown. As a result, we truly don't know how good either of these teams is. For sure, both teams possess plenty of talent.
"Both teams have capable quarterbacks (Steven Montez, Jake Browning), workhorse running backs (Phillip Lindsay, Myles Gaskin), reliable receivers, shut-down defenses, and more. Both head coaches have done great job rebuilding their programs. Five years ago, both programs were struggling to climb out of the bottom tier of the Pac-12. Not anymore, as last December proved.
"Washington has the more experienced quarterback and arguably the best special teams player in the Pac-12 with Dante Pettis, who tied a NCAA record last week by returning a punt for a TD in three consecutive games. In the end, the Huskies have enough experience at QB and other spots to get the job done on the road, but the Buffs won't make it easy. It will be a slobberknocker of the highest order." -Hood
Jack Stern: Washington 34, Colorado 17
"The Washington Huskies have looked like the goliath of the Pac-12 thus far this year, despite losing arguably their biggest playmaker on offense in John Ross and four talented starters in the secondary after last season. On offense, wideout/returner Dante Pettis has elevated his game to another level, while quarterback Jake Browning and shifty running back Myles Gaskin have seemingly got better by the week. On defense, the Huskies have playmakers at all three levels with Akeem Victor at linebacker, big man Vita Vea at defensive tackle, and athletic Taylor Rapp at safety.
"The Colorado Buffaloes have struggled to execute consistently on both sides of the ball early on, which has been somewhat masked by timely playmaking by quarterback Steven Montez, as well as lesser non-power five opponents. I think the Huskies will ultimately be able to stop the offense from really getting going by stacking the box, and forcing quarterback Montez to beat them through the air. The Huskies talented pass rush should get their fare share of pressure up front on a Buffs offensive line that hasn't exactly blown the roof off of Folsom Field thus far.
"With the talented secondary the Huskies have, I feel they'll ultimately be able to contain the Buffs wideouts for the most part. Behind one of the best offensive lines in college football, they should have no trouble establishing a run game that can consistently move the chains, as well as a explosive pass attack that can make the big play at the right time. Although I think the Buffs will rise to the level of competition, and ultimately play their best game of the year thus far in terms of consistently moving the ball, and stopping the deep ball, I see the talented Huskies team ultimately coming out victorious." -Stern
Singer: Washington 27, Colorado 31
"I'm going with the upset. My brain tells me that Washington, because of the reasons given by my colleagues above, will win on Saturday. This Huskies' team has not seen a huge drop off from last year, but very much like Colorado, they lost a lot in their secondary to the NFL and haven't been tested yet this season. UW has looked better than Colorado this season, but the Huskies are on the road for this game, and when Washington played a really bad Rutgers team in week one, they won only 30-14.
"Vegas currently has Washington as an 11.5 road favorite in a huge Pac-12 contest. I definitely like Colorado to win against the spread here, and I also think that they that they pull out the upset. Steven Montez will have success if Phillip Lindsay and the running game are able to open things up for him. My gut tells me that CU pulls this upset off." -Singer