Over their current losing streak, the Colorado football team had shown signs of life in some they had struggled for most of the season, leaving optimism heading into their contest with a struggling Washington State team. All that went out the window quickly on Friday night as the Cougars boat raced the Buffs from start to finish, coasting to a 56-14 victory.
“Great win by our opponents,” Deion Sanders said postgame. “Played a heck of a game, coached a heck of a game. They came to play, candidly, from the start to the finish. Obviously, it doesn’t look like we did. You give up two fumble returns for touchdowns and a kickoff returned for a touchdown, that’s not the recipe for a win. They executed early, they executed often.”
Photo Cred: SI
Washington State started quickly out of the gates, forcing a three and out and immediately following it up with a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead. On the Buffs’ next series, the Cougars continued to get pressure on Shedeur Sanders and recorded a strip sack that they scooped up and ran back for a touchdown to extend the lead to 14. In the Buffs’ first 10 offensive plays, Sanders was sacked four times.
The Buffs responded with a big play when Sanders escaped the pocket and launched a 45-yard touchdown strike to Travis Hunter to cut the lead in half. But by the time the celebration had died down, the Cougars had already responded by taking the ensuing kickoff back to the house. That kick return sapped all momentum that Colorado had built, and they couldn’t get it back. The downhill spiral continued late in the first half when Sanders was down trying to recover a botched snap and had his ankle rolled up on, knocking him out of the game for good.
“He had numbness in his hand,” Deion Sanders said. “He got hit in the forearm and he couldn’t really grip the ball, he couldn’t really feel the ball. The second time he got injured was, I think, when we had an errant snap and they rolled up his ankle and that was it. He couldn’t grip the ball, and his ankle, so that took him out of the game. The rest is history.”
For the rest of the night, it would be a mix of freshman Ryan Staub and Gavin Kulb in at quarterback for the Buffs, and neither was able to get much of anything going for the CU offense. On the other end, Cam Ward and the Wazzu offense excelled, racking up 42 points before halftime. The second half was a formality. The Cougars punched in a pair of touchdowns, and the Buffs tackled on one of their own off the back of another spectacular catch by Hunter.
The two-way star finished the game with four catches for 82 yards and a score to lead the way for the Buffs. Shedeur Sanders finished 6-for-10 with 86 yards and a touchdown before leaving with an injury. There’s been talk about shutting the junior quarterback down and sitting him out during next week’s game against Utah to keep him healthy, but Deion Sanders wasn’t exactly on board.
Photo Cred: CNN
“Shedeur is not that kind of player that he wants to shut down,” said the Buffs’ head coach. “He wants to finish with his teammates I’m pretty sure. I haven’t talked to him about it, but I’m pretty sure he wants to finish.”
Sanders has been sacked 52 times in 11 games this season, by far the most in the FBS, and has dealt with a few different injuries over the past month. With an extra day to rest and recover, it remains to be seen whether he’ll go for the Buffs’ season finale next week. Friday night assured that next week would be the Buffs’ final game of the season, as it dropped them to 4-7 and eliminated them from bowl contention. For Washington State, Cam Ward finished 18-for-30 with 288 yards and two touchdowns and added two more scores on the ground. The Cougars’ QB was in command all night, making good decisions and efficiently distributing the ball to his playmakers. Josh Kelly was his favorite target on the night, reeling in six passes for 130 yards.