Another week, another enigma for the Washington offense.
As they head into the thin air of Colorado, the good news is that the Huskies won’t be quite as thin on offense as they were a week ago in the loss to Arizona State.
We know Cyler Miles is back, and we know teammates have confidence in him.
We know Shaq Thompson is a great fill-in running back. Maybe we’ll get the chance to find out if he’s a great full-time back.
We’re told Lavon Coleman and Dwayne Washington are available. We don’t know how much they’ll be able to contribute.
We know senior right tackle Ben Riva (knee, ankle) is out again, per offensive line coach Chris Strausser. We don’t know about the availability of left guard Dexter Charles (foot).
We know, too, that UW’s offense — even when healthy — has been inconsistent.
Perhaps Colorado’s defense will be the tonic the Huskies need.
The Buffs are better than their 0-5 record in Pac-12 play suggests. UCLA needed two overtimes to eke out a win in Boulder last week. Colorado took Cal into two overtimes, too. It feels like the Buffs are thisclose to a breakthrough.
And yet, it’s hard to overlook the fact that Colorado is last in the Pac-12 in rushing defense, allowing a staggering 5.6 yards per carry — more than a yard more than anyone else in the Pac-12. That average, in fact, is worse than all but one Power Five conference team and worst in the Pac-12 in two years (since Colorado allowed 5.9 in 2012).
The hunch here is the Huskies, with Miles back from a concussion and with Thompson and Deontae Cooper leading the reconfigured rushing attack, establish the run early, which in turn should open things up for a balance attack. Throw in another defensive touchdown — a Danny Shelton pick six, anyone? — because, well, that’s just what we’ve come to expect.
No, we don’t know what the UW offense will look like week to week. This week, though, they should be better, which should be enough to bust the Buffs.
Prediction: Washington 34, Colorado 17.
Around the Pac-12:
USC at Washington State: Steve Sarkisian probably doesn’t need a reminder of what happened in his last visit to Pullman (with UW two years ago), but it’s hard to picture the Trojans messing up this one in any fashion. The pick: USC 45, WSU 30.
Stanford at Oregon: There’s a lot of pressure on Marcus Mariota and the Ducks here. Lose this, and they’ll lose his best shot at the Heisman and their best shot to get in the playoff. Stanford’s offense, though, just doesn’t have enough firepower to keep up, especially on the road. The pick: Oregon 38, Stanford 21.
Cal at Oregon State: Neither team has done enough to give you confidence in them, but the Beavers have a history of November success under Mike Riley. The late OSU push starts again Saturday. The pick: Oregon State 49, Cal 35.
Arizona at UCLA: In one of two big showdowns in the South, the 6.5-point spread for Arizona is a bit surprising. UCLA has been tough to figure out since their blowout victory at Arizona State, but the feeling here is the Bruins will figure out a way to win this at home. The pick: UCLA 41, Arizona 38.
Utah at Arizona State: Losing receiver Dres Anderson was a big blow for a Utah offense that’s been up and down this season. If he’s OK after late hit he suffered against the Huskies, count on Taylor Kelly to do just enough for the Sun Devils. The pick: Arizona State 28, Utah 24.