Expect a Physical Slugfest Between Rivals Washington and Colorado

Washington Huskies player celebrating

Rainman M.

Friday, September 22, 2017 8:08 PM UTC

Friday, Sep. 22, 2017 8:08 PM UTC

#7 Washington (3-0) opens up Pac-12 play at Colorado (3-0). The Buffaloes will look to avenge their 41-10 loss in last season's Pac-12 Championship against the Huskies. Join expert capper and get your college football picks ready.

Washington Huskies vs Colorado Buffaloes  

The Huskies opened as 10 point favorites, but the spread has reached as high as 12.5. The game total opened at 53 and has dropped to 50.

The Huskies' offense has been prolific this season--but against lesser opponents.  Quarterback Jake Browning does not have an elite arm but prides himself on his accuracy and touch. He places the ball where his receivers want it and, in order to do so, is effectively mobile in the pocket in order to create more propitious throwing angles.

Washington's offensive line returns four starters who are capable of providing the protection for Browning and the elite duo in the backfield of Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman, who combined last season for over 2,000 yards rushing.

The Huskies' major loss on offense is wide receiver, John Ross. They replace Ross with speedster Dante Pettis. Pettis will no longer benefit from the attention which opposing secondaries had devoted to Ross.

The Huskies have been absolutely pass-first this season. They likely want to allow Browning to develop chemistry with his wide receivers, who are unproven outside of Pettis and prepare him to be more effective against higher-ranked defenses. Browning will need to improve from his 37% pass completion in last year's game against Colorado. His backfield inspires less concern from Washington's coaching staff but may need to shake off some rust.

Steve Montez is Browning's counterpart for Colorado. Montez, unlike Browning, relies especially on his arm strength to make down-the-field throws and is also inclined to make big throws outside of the pocket. But like Browning, he has yet to impress against higher-ranked defenses. In order to succeed against Washington, he will need to limit his mistakes and allow his playmakers around him to win the game for Colorado.

Running back Phillip Lindsay lacks breakaway speed but is still fast and agile. He doesn't look imposing but is strong and physical. He is a reliable back, but hardly a game changer.

Montez has a talented receiving corps, including Lindsay, with his extremely reliable hands and effective route-running. Shay Fields, Devin Ross, and Bryce Bobo are all capable of achieving big plays. Fields and Ross utilize their speed and elusiveness while Bobo is physical. 

The Buffaloes' offensive line has undergone adjustments, is lacking cohesion, and playing poorly. Colorado's line will be a liability to its offense because should Montez try to be aggressive, he will struggle to find the time to throw deep balls.

Washington's defensive line boasts two gigantic, but also athletic, mountains in the interior: Vita Vea and Greg Gaines. Between Lindsay's lack of size and his poor offensive line, Colorado will struggle to run against the pressure applied by Washington's defensive line. The Huskies' line is deep and includes Jaylen Johnson, who excels against elite competition whenever healthy.

Washington's linebacking corps has improved from last year. Azeem Victor makes up for his lack of size with his athleticism, range of pursuit, strong tackling, and leadership.

Washington's secondary balances a well of youthful upside with some starting experience. Byron Murphy can utilize his elite speed and ball skills to punish Montez for inconsistencies with his accuracy.

Colorado's secondary is in the same situation as that of Washington. Murphy's counterpart is Isaiah Oliver, who can run with any wide receiver down the field and utilizes his speed to take away much of the field for Browning. Browning and number one target Pettis will have trouble connecting against Oliver.  Both secondaries have been regarded with unjustified skepticism as a result of offseason departures.

Colorado's defensive line has the pieces within its 3-4 defense to challenge Washington's underperforming offensive line. Led by the hugely strong but also respectably mobile Javier Edwards in the middle, and the explosive, pass rushing threat off the edge, Leo Jackson, Colorado's line is demonstrating the chemistry that Washington's blockers are not.

Colorado's linebacking corps boasts solid experience. They are run-stuffers who excel at taking the proper angle to the ball carrier. Rick Gamboa provides invaluable leadership and communication while Derek McCartney and Drew Lewis combine solid strength against opposing blockers and speed and athleticism. This unit underperformed against Washington last season but should redeem itself this season.


The Verdict

In the past week, the Colorado players repeatedly had to watch film of their humiliating defeat against Washington last season. They have been open about their number one strategy to remain competitive against the Huskies: be physical. Their offense has yet to impress this season. Their defense will keep them in the game while maintaining endurance against Washington's grinding, snail-paced offense. The Buffaloes will play their most motivated and energetic football in the first half and that's where our NCAAF picks will be.


Free NCAAF Pick: Colorado/Washington 1H 'Under' 26Best Line Offered: at YouWager

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