Big test for the Cougs against Colorado

JACOB MOORE | Evergreen columnist

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The last time Washington State University won nine consecutive games, Mahatma Gandhi was protesting, Albert Einstein was earning patents and Babe Ruth was playing for the Yankees. The year was 1930 and later on that season, the Cougars faced off with Alabama in the Rose Bowl.

In order to match their historic streak from 86 years ago, WSU (8-2, 7-0) is going to have to get through the leader of the Pac-12 South, Colorado Buffaloes (8-2, 6-1).

Arguably the greatest all-around team WSU has faced thus far, Colorado stumbled to a last-place finish with just four wins (one in conference) last season. It’s safe to say that Colorado is the Pac-12’s underdog.

At a news conference Nov. 8, Colorado Head Coach Mike Maclntyre mentioned to reporters that he thought his team could come out on top in the conference.

“We’ve been trying to be Pac-12 Champions ever since before the season started in fall camp and that was before anyone believed we could do it,” MacIntyre said. “People didn’t think that after nine games in the season, we’d be on top of the Pac-12 South.”

Beginning the season with two consecutive losses, WSU Head Coach Mike Leach and the Cougars have worked hard to get to the top of the standings and they are going to do everything they can to maintain their position over No. 7 rival Washington (9-1, 6-1) in the Pac-12 North.

In order to beat the Buffaloes, the Cougar offense needs to be at its sharpest. The Colorado defense has allowed one touchdown or less in five games this season. As a team, they’re allowing on average about 18 points per game. Don’t expect Colorado to give up 50-70 points to the Cougar’s offense as Arizona and California did.

This game is expected to be more similar to when the Cougars played UCLA with regard to Colorado’s forceful defense and speedy offense.

Colorado is loaded with running backs and you better believe they’re going to use them. Junior tailback Phillip Lindsay leads the pack with almost 1,000 yards. On top of Lindsay, you have three other guys with more than 200 yards of ball-carry.

The receiving and passing stats do not match up with WSU’s, though as Colorado has been using two quarterbacks all season in senior Sefo Liufau and freshman Steven Montez. Despite this being a rather unpopular choice in college football, it’s working.

So, WSU has its work cut out for them already. But to make matters worse, senior wide receiver River Cracraft is done for the season as he tore his ACL last Saturday against California. That was the last thing WSU needed.

Every time Cracraft touched the ball for WSU this season, it was an average pickup of 13.2 yards. Saying he is a valuable asset is an understatement and we wish him a speedy and healthy recovery.

For Colorado, that makes this game a little easier to manage on defense. In fact, based on the paper statistics, Colorado came out as the favorite to win by six points. This game could very well go down to the wire. So much so that a field goal may end up making the difference.

If that’s the case, Colorado has a clear advantage. Their trio of kickers, freshman Davis Price, junior Chris Graham and senior Diego Gonzalez have combined to score 80 points this season. WSU’s kicker redshirt junior Erik Powell has put 73 points on the board alone – but only 15 have come from field goals while 58 have come from the extra point after a touchdown.

This game has the potential to be huge. If the Cougars can go against the odds, like they’ve been doing all season long, then they might make history and set up for an unforgettable Apple Cup. If Colorado wins, as many expect, they could win the Southern division, stay perfect at home and show the college football world why they deserved to be ranked higher than their most recent ranking of No. 10 in the nation.