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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 14, 2011 at 2:37 PM

The pick. …

So at the risk of dating myself here, I have to admit that just about every time I’ve thought of the name of UW’s opponent this week, the following song has gone through my head.

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Especially when combined with Steve Sarkisian’s constant refrain about the Huskies being “mountain climbers” and needing not to look down, but also not look too far ahead.

That has seemed the big danger this week, that the Huskies might get caught looking forward to what could be its most highly-hyped regular season game in maybe a decade next Saturday at Stanford — provided it can get by Colorado tomorrow.

Those who put their money on the line have decided that shouldn’t be much of an issue as UW is a 15.5-point favorite. And on paper, it’s easy to see why. Colorado is 11th in scoring offense (21.5) and 11th in scoring defense (33.3) — and at least no one can complain the Buffs aren’t consistent.

Colorado, in fact, is at or near the bottom in most of the signifcant Pac-12 statistical categories. To be fair, Colorado has played a tough schedule — no bye weeks, and games at Hawaii, Ohio State and Stanford. CU has had just two true home games among its first six. So maybe Colorado is a little better than some of its stats would suggest.

Certainly, Sarkisian seems appopriately worried, especially about CU’s pressure defense — the one area in which the Buffs lead the Pac-12 is sacks, with 17 — and its ability to throw screen passes (running back Rodney Stewart has 26 receptions).

Quarterback Tyler Hansen is also probably the best QB UW will have faced in its Pac-12 games, and guard Ryan Miller is considered a pretty good NFL prospect — his matchups with Alameda Ta’amu should prove interesting to scouts. The screen pass ability will put the onus on UW’s young linebackers to make the proper reads.

And if receiver Paul Richardson were healthy — he has a knee sprain and is listed as out even though Sarkisian has said all week he won’t be surprised if he plays — there’d be that much more reason to worry about what CU’s offense might be able to do.

Despite the sack totals, though, Colorado’s defense seems pretty shaky, allowing 4.1 yards per carry (third-highest in the Pac-12) and 14 touchdown passes (most in the Pac-12). Colorado is particularly vulnerable at cornerback, where it lost two draft picks from a year ago and has had to play true freshmen and a converted receiver.

Keith Price, despite all the injuries, has thrown for at least three TDs in every game, so the obvious conclusion from the numbers that he should be able to do so again (as long as the ankle injury doesn’t resurrect itself) as you’d expect UW’s receivers will have a big edge in their matchups with CU’s defensive backs.

What can always be an equalizer, however, is turnovers. UW has been good in that area this year, ranking second in the Pac-12 at plus-five overall, or plus-one per game. Colorado is dead even, having lost six and gotten six, both among the lowest totals in the Pac-12. It’s always kind of tricky to read turnovers, though — what’s the percentage of forced versus just dumb luck in winning the turnover margin? UW shouldn’t count on being on the good end of a 5-1 turnover margin, as it had against Utah, every week.

Regardless, if UW is truly a team worthy of being ranked — and Sarkisian’s comments on Monday indicate he thinks it is — then this is a game it should win, and rather comfortably, especially being at home. We wrote that about the Eastern game, as well, and the Huskies needed a lot of help to pull that one out. But UW seems in a better place now, looking like a team that should be able to win this game the way an emerging team would. Call it, WASHINGTON 34, COLORADO 17.

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