Stampede: Colorado Buffaloes come to Pullman for WSU’s final home game of 2015


Redshirt junior linebacker Parker Henry strips the ball from a Stanford player during a game against Stanford in Martin Stadium, Oct. 31, 2015.

For a team always emphasizing the “one game at a time” mindset, the No. 24 Cougars’ will have to bring intensity to their matchup with Colorado Saturday – a contest that has ‘trap game’ written all over it.

The Washington State football team (7-3, 5-2 Pac-12) has two remaining games in its regular season; Saturday’s game against the Buffaloes (4-7, 1-6 Pac-12), and then their highly-anticipated rivalry matchup with Washington next week in Seattle.

In past years, a game like Saturday’s against the Buffaloes might have been overlooked in anticipation for the showdown with the Huskies but, so far, that hasn’t been the attitude of this Cougar team.

After an emotional, last-second win at UCLA last weekend, the Cougars have been receiving national attention, but are still trying to focus on the task at hand.

“I don’t really think about it too much,” redshirt junior wide receiver Gabe Marks said in a press conference Monday. “I’m just trying to win the next game however that comes about. If it’s some ridiculous fashion like most of our wins have been or if we blow someone out, which you know, would be preferable. However we get the win, I’m okay with it.”

Marks has been a huge part of the Cougars’ success this year, and now holds the school record for receptions and has been named a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award.

The Buffaloes have only won one Pac-12 game this season, but are very similar to the 2014 Washington State team that played a lot of teams close, but couldn’t find ways to win. Colorado has lost four one-possession games this season, including a 27-24 defeat to USC Saturday that slipped away in the second half.

“It’s very reminiscent of our team last year,” WSU redshirt sophomore Peyton Pelluer said. “We had lots of close games, we just couldn’t finish them. So I definitely know where they’re at, and I feel what they’re feeling. I know they’re going to come in here and play us hard.”

Head Coach Mike Leach said there isn’t a lot of difference between the Buffaloes and the Cougars.

“They’re kind of in the same spot we are now,” Leach said. “A lot of these games have been kind of by an eyelash on both sides. We’ve come out on top on some of them, but they’ve been close on all the same people we’ve been close on.”

The Cougars keep playing better with each passing week. Redshirt sophomore Luke Falk leads the Pac-12 in passing yards per game (406.7) and touchdowns (35). WSU also leads the Pac-12 in total offense, averaging 395.7 yards per game.

If the Buffaloes want to leave Pullman with a win, they will have to disrupt Falk in the pocket or the receivers on their routes consistently.

Colorado has not shown any stellar ability to stop an offense as dominant as the Cougars’. They have been allowing 231.9 passing yards per game, giving Falk and the air raid offense plenty to work with.

The Cougars know all too well that records and past performances are not always the best indicator of ability, and the ‘respect everyone, fear no one’ mantra that has helped guide the Cougars to their best start since 2003.

Saturday’s game will be the last time the Cougars’ seniors play under the lights in Martin Stadium, adding even more incentive to win the day for crimson and grey for seniors like wide receiver Dom Williams.

The game will kick off at 7:45 p.m. Saturday in Martin Stadium and will be televised on ESPN2.