NCAA Football Picks - Washington State Cougars vs Colorado Buffaloes

Washington State

Tuesday, November 15, 2016 8:28 PM GMT

Colorado is a small home favorite on the college football odds when the Buffaloes host the Washington State Cougars in an unexpected Pac-12 battle of division leaders.

Season: 23-20-3 (+1.70)

Everyone who foresaw this week's battle in Boulder between the Colorado Buffaloes and Washington State Cougars as a preview of the Pac-12 Championship, please stand on your heads.

While someone, somewhere might have predicted such an occurrence -- and hopefully they took advantage of some juicy returns with a wager on the NCAA football futures -- I recall exactly zero experts having the Cougars and Buffaloes in the conference championship. The pair crank things up at 3:30 PM (ET) Saturday afternoon with Colorado giving up 4 at 5Dimes and 60 for the scoreboard mark.

Both sides enter the fracas with slim 1-game leads at the top of the two divisions, so it's obviously a critical contest. It's especially important to Colorado since the Buffs would lose control of their own destiny with a setback. Southern Cal owns the tiebreaker advantage over Colorado, Mike MacIntyre's group still with another key fight against Utah a week from now. Washington State could absorb a loss and still be in charge of the North Division crown since the Cougs have Washington at home on Thanksgiving Friday.

Cougars Overcome 0-2 Start To Campaign

That 0-2 start Washington State (8-2 straight up, 6-4 against the spread) got off to threw Mike Leach and his lads into Nowhereville on the college football landscape. Eight straight wins followed, the Cougars beating the NCAA football odds in all but a 3-game stretch during October against UCLA, Arizona State and Oregon State.

The latest victory was a 56-21 decision over Cal as 17½ point home chalk, the Cougars hitting on all cylinders with 250+ yards rushing and 400 even through the air. The victory did prove costly on the injury front with wide receiver River Cracraft suffering a torn ACL that will end his collegiate career.

Both losses for Colorado (8-2 SU, 9-1 ATS) came on the road, a Week 3 pounding administered by Michigan and a tough setback to USC three weeks later. Saturday's 49-24 win at Arizona was closer than it might appear, though the Buffaloes did beat the closing 17½ point home spread. They'll pit their pass defense -- No. 1 in the conference and No. 10 nationally -- against Washington State's aerial attack that leads the Pac 12 and is second in the country.

Buffs Seeking 1st Home Win Vs. Wazzu Since 1996

The 10th meeting between the teams is the fourth as conference opponents. Colorado won four of six from 1981-2004 when the schools resided in separate leagues, Washington State taking two of three since the Buffaloes joined the Pac-12 in 2011. The Cougars won the only conference collision played in Boulder so far, a 31-27 decision as 3 point underdogs. Last year's clash in Pullman was a dominating 27-3 triumph for Wazzu as 2-TD chalk.

There is some rain and snow mixed into the forecast for later this week, but it's supposed to be long gone by the weekend. Sunny skies and the low-40s is the call for kickoff.

My crystal ball is forecasting a close one, possibly coming down to a field goal in the final seconds. That's why I'm taking the Cougars and the points for my free college football pick.

Free College Football Pick: Washington State +4½

Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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