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October 13, 2011

Scouting report: Colorado at Washington

Matchup: Colorado Buffaloes (1-5 overall, 0-2 Pac-12) at Washington Huskies (4-1, 2-0)

Kickoff: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Pacific time, Husky Stadium, Seattle

TV, Radio: The game will air to a regional audience on ROOT sports and Fox Sports Net. Tom Glasgow, Jason Stiles, Jen Mueller and Alanna Rizzo will provide the commentary. It can be heard in Seattle on the radio on 950-AM KJR with Bob Rondeau doing the play-by-play, Damon Huard doing color commentary and Elise Woodward reporting from the sideline.

Coaches: Steve Sarkisian, Washington (third year); Jon Embree, Colorado (first year)

Series: The series dates back to 1915 when the Huskies beat the Buffaloes 46-0 to wrap up a 7-0 season. Since then, it has been an even match with the record standing at 5-5-1. The Huskies are currently on a two game winning streak, winning the most recent match up in 2000, 17-14 in a year they went to the Rose Bowl.

About the Buffaloes: Their 1-5 start is a little bit misleading. Colorado has played better than its record indicates. The Buffaloes lost an overtime battle to California, Washington State surged late to beat them in week five, and their other three losses have come against tough opponents on the road. On offense, the Buffaloes use the screen game with running back Rodney Stewart. The 5-foot-6 back is averaging 71.8 yards rushing and 69.5 yards receiving this season, most of that from screen passes. Quarterback Tyler Hansen has had a strong season up to this point, tossing 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions, but on Saturday he will be without his top receiver Paul Richardson. A knee injury will keep Richardson out of the game against the Huskies. The sophomore has 30 catches for 488 yards and five scores on the season and his absence will hurt the Colorado passing game.

The Buffs defense has given up more than 30 points in five of six games this season and are ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in scoring defense. Colorado does excel at getting to the passer using complex blitz schemes in order to disrupt opposing offenses. It has been successful so far as they're tied for the conference lead in sacks this season. Senior linebacker Josh Hartigan leads the team, and is second in the conference with four sacks this season.

Colorado hasn't been able to stop the run or the pass this season ranking in the bottom half of the conference in both categories, but their biggest problem has been in red zone defense. Colorado has given up point on 92.9 percent of opponents trips to the red zone and the Buffaloes have yet to force a red zone turnover.

About the Huskies: After a 4-1 start and a bye week to get healthy, the Huskies are feeling as good as they have felt in a long time. Quarterback Keith Price is second in the country in passing touchdowns, was just named to the Maxwell award watch list and appears primed to lead the offense to another victory.

The Huskies have scored 30 or more points in every game this season, the biggest reason for that is their extreme commitment to balance. While Price has garnered much of the attention on offense, running back Chris Polk is second in the conference in rushing yards, and has gained over 100 yards of offense in every game this season. The only question mark on offense for the Huskies is their offensive line. Price has taken a lot of hits and has been battling injuries throughout the season. If the line can't keep him safe, the Huskies could be in trouble. Through five weeks. Price doesn't look like he'll ever leave a game though and between him passing the ball to a multitude of different receivers and Polk pounding the ball, the Huskies' offense will be nearly impossible to slow down.

The much-maligned Washington defense appears to have turned the corner. Following a late game stand against California in week four, the Huskies came out fired up and had their best defensive performance of the season against Utah. Washington forced five turnovers and allowed just 14 points, seven of which came on a last-second touchdown that meant nothing. The rush defense for the Huskies is clearly the strength of the unit. Utah was limited to just 17 yards rushing in the game, an incredible feat considering the Utes came in as one of the best rushing teams in the country. The pass defense of the Huskies is still questionable; Washington ranks last in the conference in pass defense giving up 323 yards per game.

What to expect: The Huskies are looking to show the conference and the country they are a legitimate contender. They should handle Colorado with ease. Memories of the first game of the season against Eastern Washington come to mind. The Huskies can't let the Buffaloes stay in this football game. Washington is the better football team and coming off of the bye week the Huskies should be well prepared for a big victory. Colorado is in a rebuilding process. The Buffaloes have some playmakers on both sides of the ball, but the atmosphere of Husky Stadium and the talent of the Huskies will be too much in this one.

UDubNation.com pick: Washington, 38-20

Follow UDubNation's Mitchell Larsen on Twitter @MLarsen_Rivals


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