The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Cougs looking to save bowl hopes in primetime matchup

WSU to take on ‘Coach Prime’ and Colorado in a similiar spot
WSU football player Lincoln Victor runs out before an NCAA football game against Oregon State, Saturday, September 23, 2023 in Pullman, Wash.

Following week three of the season, Colorado and WSU were both 3-0, the Buffs being the talk of college football, and the Cougs were the surprise. Since then, the two teams have combined for a 2-12 record, with one win a piece.

WSU (4-6, 1-6 Pac-12) are tied for last in the Pac-12 with CU (4-6, 1-6 Pac-12), but lead the all-time series 7-6, having beaten the Buffaloes 41-10 in 2019 in Pullman. It is a new look CU team, however, following an offseason with more turnover than any other team in the country. Wazzu will also be honoring 17 seniors before the game.

The records and conference standing are not the only similarities the two teams have. They have similar play styles, statistical ranks and passion to win and keep bowl eligibility hopes alive. Despite the losing streak, the drive to be great still exists in the Cougar locker room.

“I know what’s transpired over the last few weeks has been difficult, it’s been emotional, it’s been frustrating at times,” Dickert said. “I believe in these kids, I believe in our coaching staff, I believe in what we can do here as a football program now and in the future… Two teams really hungry for a win, and I can’t wait to just honor these seniors with a packed house.”

It is almost scary how similar the two teams are, both being pass-heavy operations led by star quarterbacks plagued by up-and-down defensive efforts. The two teams come in within two spots of each other in points per game, with WSU at 30.3, and CU at 30.7.

They both also rank in the bottom two of the Pac-12 in rushing yards per game, the only two in the conference to be under 100, with both not surpassing 80. Interestingly, the Buffs allow the second most rushing yards per game in the conference (168.3), while the Cougs allow the third most (160.1), so really it is a matchup of a movable object against a stoppable force for both teams.

The good news for the Cougs, they ran for 125 yards a week ago while CU only had 77, but the Cougs also allowed 177 themselves. While the rushing stats are staggering, the real matchup the lights will turn on for is between the two QBs, Cam Ward and Shedeur Sanders.

Both rank in the top seven in the nation in passing yards, separated by just 17 yards through the air, and both are in the top five in the Pac-12 in passing touchdowns. Both have often had to carry their offenses, and both will be looking to put on a show for their teams and for scouts in primetime Friday.

“They’re extremely talented at the skill positions. The Sanders kid at quarterback is a lot like Cam, a creator, strong arm player, elusive in the pocket and can do a bunch of things with the ball in his hands. He’s an elite-level talent,” Dickert said.

The good news for Ward is Colorado has allowed 300.7 yards passing per game this season, which is second worst in the Pac-12. Overall, it should be a shootout, so if you like points, make sure to secure a seat.

Further adding to the elements of a shootout are the receivers on both sides. For Colorado, it starts with two-way WR/defensive back Travis Hunter, and for WSU, the trio of Lincoln Victor, Kyle Williams and Josh Kelly has been revived following two straight shining performances from Kelly.

“Josh is his only limiter, he’s capable of doing really really great things. When Josh was at max capacity, he’s tough to deal with,” Dickert said. “It’s not just the Hunter kid at receiver, I mean they got [Xavier Weaver] and [Jimmy Horn Jr.] and there’s a bunch of guys that can really make plays.”

The Coug secondary will have their hands full, especially with top corner Chau Smith-Wade day-to-day and questionable for the matchup Friday. With the short week, the schedule is essentially crunched to one less day and makes it harder to get players back healthy in time.

“There’s an art and a science. We’re not putting a bunch of new stuff,” Dickert said. “I told our guys if you want to play professional, they go Sunday to Thursday. So Saturday to Friday is one less day, but it gets you off your routine mostly.”

The fact is, there is a lot at stake in this game. Standings, a seven-year bowl streak, a six-game losing streak, the last game at Gesa this year, the last game against a Pac-12 Colorado and the chance to send the seniors off right. The Cougs look to bounce back and do all those things at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gesa Field.

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About the Contributors
LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen sports co-editor
Luke Westfall is a junior in Broadcast News from Custer, WA. He is an avid fanatic of the many sports at many levels who spends all his available time indulging in them. Luke began working at the Evergreen in Spring 2022.
HAILEE SPEIR, Evergreen photo editor
Hailee Speir is a photographer for the Daily Evergreen. Hailee is a junior English education major from Spokane, Washington. Hailee started working for the Evergreen in fall 2021 as a photographer.