Week 14

Washington vs. Colorado: 2016 Pac-12 Championship Prediction, Game Preview

Pac-12 Championship: Washington (11-1) vs. Colorado (10-2) Game Preview


Check out the Pac-12 Championship: Washington vs. Colorado fearless prediction and game preview.


Pac-12 Championship: Washington (11-1) vs. Colorado (10-2) Game Preview

Broadcast

Date: Friday, December 2
Game Time: 9:00 pm
Venue: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
Network: FOX

Bowl and Conference Implications

While it’s not a sure thing, Washington – No. 4 in the second-to-last CFP rankings – should be in the playoff with a win. At the very worst, it’ll be in the Rose Bowl with a loss. Colorado would need a miracle to get into the College Football Playoff, but it would be in the Rose Bowl with a win, and there’s a chance to still get to Pasadena with a loss and a good showing. At No. 8 and USC No. 11, the Buffs can’t drop too far, otherwise they’d likely be off to the Alamo Bowl.

What Does Each Team Need To Do?

The two teams are about as dead even as it gets. The one big difference? Colorado played Michigan and is on the outside of the College Football Playoff looking in, while Washington got Rutgers in its Big Ten matchup.

Both teams have been phenomenal stories with plenty of energy coming from the two fan bases, setting up what could and should be the best Pac-12 Championship yet, especially with playoff implications.

For the Huskies to take advantage of them, they’ve got to figure out how to crack the code of the Colorado defense.

The Buffaloes might have an efficient and balanced offense, but they’re in Santa Clara because of a defense that held down Washington State when it had to, while coming through clutch time and again against everyone but Michigan in the second half.

The pass rush is just okay, but the D doesn’t miss open-field stops and the secondary has been swarming, especially late allowing Arizona, Washington State and Utah to combine to hit fewer than half their passes, while allowing under 50% completion percentage in four of the last six games and seven times this year with 15 picks and allowing 13 scores.

They’ll give up yards, but other than the loss to USC, they don’t give up big plays. Washington’s offense lives on big plays.

Fourth in the nation in passing efficiency defense, now the Buffs have to face the nation’s second-most efficient passing game and one of the hottest quarterbacks in college football.

Jake Browning had a spotty few games against USC and Arizona State – throwing four of his seven picks on the year – and blew that off with a brilliant performance against Wazzu last week, roaring though the Apple Cup with a 292-yard, three-score day averaging over ten yards per throw.

Against Colorado, Browning and the offense have to be a little bit patient, and they have to try getting physical from the start. That’s easier than it sounds against a Colorado defensive front that held up more than fine against Michigan, USC and Utah – the Buffs don’t get bowled over.

But while Browning vs. the Colorado D might be the main matchup, this could be Sefo Liufau’s moment for the Buffalo O. With just three picks on the year – two of them coming in the win over UCLA – Liufau doesn’t make a whole slew of mistakes, but he doesn’t carry the offense, either. His job is to keep the chains moving and take what’s there hitting third down play after third down play.

Both teams dominate defensively, both teams are ultra-efficient offensively, both teams crush the turnover margin – Washington is first in the nation, Colorado eighth – and both teams struggle to crank up the big punting yards.

If it sounds like this is a dead-even Pac-12 title game, yeah, it is.

What’s Going To Happen?

There have been five of these things so far with this the first time without Oregon or Stanford. Four of those first five were awful, and the one decent one – Stanford over Arizona 27-24 for the 2012 championship – didn’t really have much of a national impact.

This one will.

Colorado is being nationally dismissed because it’s Colorado, and no one saw this coming, but it’s the 100% real deal. Washington is, too, but again, if the schedules were flipped and the Huskies played in Ann Arbor and the Buffs hosted the Scarlet Knights, the script would be flipped.

Both teams are brilliant, and both teams are alike in so many ways, but the Washington offensive line is a bit stronger, the pass rush better, and the defense as a whole is better at getting into the backfield.

Washington also has PK Cameron Van Winkle, who’s hit 14-of-18 field goals with just one miss since September, while Colorado’s kicking game is a wee bit shakier.

It’ll be just that close to come down to a big kick, and Washington will get it.

Pac-12 Championship: Washington vs. Colorado Prediction

Final Score

Washington 24, Colorado 20

Line

Washington -7.5, o/u: 58.5

Get Tickets For This Game

ATS Confidence: 5: Mitt Romney – 1: Rudy Guiliani … 2.5

Must See Rating: 5: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 1: CMA Country Christmas 2016 … 5