GAME: Colorado (0-3 overall, 0-0 Pac-12) at Washington State (2-1 overall, 0-0 Pac-12). WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m. PT, Martin Stadium, Pullman. MEETING: 8th (Colorado leads 4-3). COACHES: John Embree, Colorado; Mike Leach, WSU. RANKINGS: Both unranked. LINE: WSU by 18 1/2. TV: FX. RADIO: ESPN 710 and IMG College Sports Network.
Although the Washington State Cougars enter Saturday's game against Colorado in Pullman looking for their first three-game winning streak since 2006, head coach Mike Leach has a colorful way of assessing the progress made by his team since the season-opening loss at Brigham Young.
"We still don't quite yet have a tent over this circus," said Leach, adding, "and in that respect, we're a lot like Colorado."
The Buffaloes -- so far -- are the Pac-12's worst club, after suffering a 69-14 embarrassment at Fresno State last week. In its three losses, Colorado has been outscored 121-59 and outgained 1,429 yards to 869.
"Colorado is fast, talented and physical, and they've got all these recruiting classes stacked up," said Leach. "But right now they are not playing together as well as they could. Like us, they've got a lot of young guys out there (Colorado has used 13 true freshmen). I think they are going to explode at some point, but right now it's been tough for them."
WSU has not strung together three consecutive wins since defeating Idaho, Baylor and Stanford in 2006 under Bill Doba, and is not likely to have much of an issue with Colorado, "only" an 18.5-point underdog.
Colorado is held in such low esteem that at Leach's early-week press conference, the coach was asked to name his three favorite pirates (he admires pirates for their "teamwork") before he was asked to comment on the Buffaloes (Leach chose Bartholomew Roberts, Henry Morgan and Blackbeard).
Leach would not identify which of his two quarterbacks, Jeff Tuel or Connor Halliday, would start Saturday, although, as Sportspress Northwest's Adam Lewis reported this week, Halliday seems the likely pick.
Asked about Tuel, who suffered a knee injury late in the Eastern Washington game, Leach said, "He's ridiculously healthy. Tony the Tiger would be proud to have him in a commercial with this guy and have him eat cereal. You're just going to have to stay tuned and pay attention. I know the anticipation is just killing everyone, including me."
While Tuel, listed as the starter on the WSU depth chart, sat out last week's win over UNLV, Halliday threw four touchdown passes.
"I thought he really played well," Leach said of Halliday. "He played well ahead of schedule for a guy without a lot of snaps under him. He's talented. He's explosive and really good at going down field."
Asked if considered himself a starter or the backup, Halliday said, "I don't know. If I get a chance, I'm going to do everything I can to be successful."
This will be Colorado's first trip to Pullman after previously playing the Cougars five times in Boulder (1981, 1987, 1996, 2003 and 2011), once in Spokane (1982) and once in Seattle (2004).
Because of dense smoke blowing east from the massive fires near Wenatchee, there was talk Friday of postponing the game because of the health risk. But the game is going on as scheduled.
SERIES: Dates to Sept. 19, 1981 when WSU registered a 14-10 victory over the Buffaloes in Boulder. WSU came from behind to win last year's Pac-12 opener, using a 63-yard TD pass from Marshall Lobbestael to Marquess Wilson in the final minutes to pull out the 31-27 victory in Boulder. That was the first game between the schools since 2004, when Colorado defeated WSU 20-12 in Seattle. That contest was scheduled for Sept. 15, 2001, in Pullman, but the events of 9/11 four days prior forced the game to be re-booked to 2004. WSU coach Mike Leach faced Colorado four times during his tenure at Texas Tech, posting a 1-3 record.
WSU HEAD COACH: Mike Leach (86-43, 2-1 WSU):Hired Nov. 30, 2011 to replace Paul Wulff, who went 9-40 in four seasons, Leach in 10 seasons at Texas Tech (2000-09) earned 10 bowl bids. The Susanville, CA., native, who was raised in Cody, WY., recorded a school-record 84 victories. Leach's offenses led the nation in passing six times and three times accumulated the most total yards. In 2009, the Red Raiders finished second in passing offense and fourth in total offense, both marks tops among BCS conference schools. Prior to Texas Tech, Leach spent one season as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma (1999). That year, the Sooners set six Big 12 and 17 school records.WSU STATS / NOTES
- SEASON SUMMARY: Record: 2-1. Home: 1-0. Road: 1-1. Neutral: 0-0. Vs. Pac-12: 0-0. Vs. Pac-12 North: 0-0. Vs. Pac-12 South: 0-0. Vs. Non-Conference: 2-1.
- Points For: 65(21.7). Rushing Yards Per Game: 62.0. Passing Yards Per Game: 284.7. Total Offense Per Game: 346.7.
- Points Against: 77 (25.7). Opp. Rushing Yards Per Game: 107.3. Opp. Passing Yards Per Game: 344.3. Total Defense Per Game: 451.7
- PAC-12 Ranks: Scoring Offense -- 10th (21.7); Scoring Defense -- 10th (25.7); Total Offense -- 9th (346.7); Total Defense -- 11th (451.7); Rushing Offense -- 12th (62.0); Rushing Defense 4th (107.3); Pass Offense -- 3rd (284.7); Pass Defense -- 12th (344.3); Pass Efficiency -- 8th (128.0).
- WR Marquess Wilson needs 93 receiving yards to pass Jason Hill for second place on WSU's top 10 list for career receiving yards and 145 yards to pass Brandon Gibson's school-record of 2,756. Wilson enters the week as the Pac-12's active career leader in receiving yards with 2,612, No. 33 in conference history.
- WSU has eight sacks through the first three games after collecting 17 all of last season. Converted linebacker Travis Long enters the weekend leading the Pac-12 Conference with four sacks.
- Long matched career highs with nine tackles and two sacks at UNLV for the second time this season after recording similar marks at BYU in the season opener. Long's four sacks match his total from a season ago. He now has 15, 10th on WSU's top-10 list. Long's team-leading 4.5 tackles-for-loss puts his career total at 33.5, sixth on WSU's list.
- Mike Tuel and Connor Halliday have combined to find 14 receivers in the first three games of the season.
- WSU's win at Colorado last season was No. 500 in program history.
|Tackles||Bucannon 22, Monroe 21, Long 20, Taliulu 16|
|Sacks||Long 4.0, Monroe 1.0, Hoffart 1.0, Mayes 1.0|
|Interceptions||Bucannon 1, Coen 1|
|Passes Defensed||Washington 3, Taliulu, Su'a, Bucannon, Su'a, 2|
|Forced Fumbles||Monroe 2, Su'a 1, Mayes 1|
|Stanford||3-0||1-0||Thursday at Washington, 6 p.m., ESPN|
|Oregon||3-0||0-0||Saturday vs. Arizona, 7:30 p.m., ESPN|
|Oregon St.||1-0||0-0||Saturday at UCLA, 12:30 p.m., ESPN2|
|Washington||2-1||0-0||Thursday vs. Stanford, 6 p.m., ESPN|
|WSU||2-1||0-0||Saturday vs. Colorado, 1 p.m., FX|
|California||1-2||0-0||Saturday at USC, 3 p.m., Pac-12|
|Arizona||3-0||0-0||Saturday at Oregon, 7:30 p.m., ESPN|
|UCLA||3-0||0-0||Saturday at UCLA, 12:30 p.m., ESPN2|
|ASU||2-1||0-0||Saturday vs. Utah, 7 p.m., Pac-12|
|Utah||2-1||0-0||Saturday at ASU, 7 p.m., Pac-12|
|Colorado||0-3||0-0||Saturday at WSU, 1 p.m., FX|
|USC||2-1||0-1||Saturday vs. Cal, 3 p.m., Pac-12|
COLORADO HEAD COACH: John Embree is in his second year at the Colorado. He was named the school’s 24th full-time head football coach (and the 26th overall including two interim) in program history Dec. 6, 2010, returning home to the state where he starred as a player in high school and college, as well as where he got his start in coaching. Though this is his first head coaching position on any level, he brought 18 years of coaching experience to the CU program. That includes 10 seasons (1993-2002) as an assistant on the Colorado staff under three head coaches, Bill McCartney (1993-94), Rick Neuheisel (1995-98) and Gary Barnett (1999-2002). Embree was a tight end for the Buffaloes in the mid-1980s.
COMING UP: After their Homecoming game with Colorado, the Cougars will play nationally ranked Oregon Sept. 29 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The Cougars next play at Martin Stadium Oct. 13 vs. California.Washington State 2012 Schedule/Results
|Date||Opponent||WSU Rnk||Opp Rnk||W/L||Score||Rec.|
|9/8/12||vs. E. Wash||---||---||W||24-20||1-1|