The sixth Pac-12 Championship Game will feature two first-time participants when Colorado and Washington square off Friday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Ninth-ranked Colorado was the surprise champion of the Pac-12 South after making the biggest single-season turnaround in conference history while the fourth-ranked Huskies nearly ran the table in backing up their status as the preseason North Division favorites.
Washington, of course, has its sights set much higher – namely a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff – and the Huskies moved to No. 4 in the CFP rankings released Tuesday night. Quarterback Jake Browning, who leads the conference in passing efficiency (181.6) and touchdown tosses (40), was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, but coach Chris Petersen’s crew also possesses the conference’s top scoring defense at 17.8 points allowed per contest. “You don’t win a bunch of games year after year unless you have a quality, championship-level defense,” Petersen told the media earlier this week. “When it comes down to championships you have to play a high level of defense.” Meanwhile, at No. 8 in the CFP rankings and more than a touchdown underdog Friday, the odds are once again stacked against Colorado, prompting quarterback Sefo Liufau to tell reporters: “I don’t think anyone is picking us to win, I don’t think anyone wants us to win and that’s totally OK. We know what we’re capable of. … We just have to go out and play.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FOX.
LINE HISTORY: The Huskies opened as 7-point favorites and was quickly bet up half-point to -7.5 and has remained there since Monday morning. The total opened at 58 and by midweek inched up to 58.5. Check out the complete line history here.
Colorado – DB Ankello Witherspoon (probable, leg), DB Jaisen Sanchez (questionable, knee), OL Gerrad Kough (questionable, ankle), WR Bryce Bobo (questionable, leg), LB Christian Shaver (out, suspension), DE Jaleel Awini (out, suspension), TE Chris Hill (out, suspension)
Washington – LB Keishawn Bierria (probable, leg), WR Brayden Lenius (questionable, undisclosed)
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a beautiful night for football at Levi Stadium. The forecast is calling for clear skies with temperatures in the low 40’s at kick off. There will be a slight wind of five mph coming from the northeast and gusts at 8 mph.
ABOUT COLORADO (10-2 SU, 10-2 ATS, 5-7 O/U): After setting a conference record with their seven-game conference improvement – they were 1-8 a year ago – Buffaloes coach Mike MacIntyre was an easy choice for Pac-12 Coach of the Year. Liufau missed three starts due to a midseason ankle injury but still ranks fourth in Pac-12 total offense (263.3 yards per game) and is complemented nicely by All-Pac-12 second-team running back Phillip Lindsay (fourth in the conference with 94.7 rushing yards per game). Linebacker Jimmie Gilbert (team-most nine sacks and 12 tackles for loss) was the only All-Pac-12 first-team defensive selection for Colorado, which leads the league in total (323.8 yards surrendered) and pass defense (187.8 yards).
ABOUT WASHINGTON (11-1 SU, 6-6 ATS, 8-3-1 O/U): The Huskies had a conference-most nine first-team All-Pac 12 selections with running back Myles Gaskin (second in the conference at 98.3 yards per outing) and wideout John Ross (second with 89.2 receiving yards) among the honorees. It’s little surprise, then, that Washington is the conference’s highest-scoring team with 44.8 points per game and has scored 31 or more in all of its wins. Four Huskies appear on the All-Pac-12 first-team defense, including safety Budda Baker (61 total stops, team-most nine tackles for loss) and defensive tackle Elijah Qualls (five tackles for loss, three sacks).
* Buffaloes are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a ATS loss.
* Buffaloes are 7-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
* Huskies are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games on grass.
* Under is 6-1 in Buffaloes last 7 neutral site games.
* Favorite is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 47 percent of Covers users are taking the road dog while 69 percent favor the over in this battle of Pac-12 rivals. View full Covers Consensus here.
Tagged with: feature