Sixth-ranked Washington finally gets to measure itself against a strong opponent when it visits Colorado on Saturday in the Pac-12 opener for both schools. The Huskies weren’t tested while opening with victories over Rutgers, Montana and Fresno State while the Buffaloes are looking for their first 4-0 start since 1998.
Washington routed Colorado 41-10 in last season’s Pac-12 title game and Huskies coach Chris Petersen insists that doesn’t matter. “It’s not that I want them to remember or forget, has nothing to do with that,” Petersen said. “I’ve said this many times: The lessons that we’ve learned, good and bad, from last year’s season, we always want that to carry over so we can learn. But this is a completely new season, early in the year, completely different energies and rhythms.” The Buffaloes are looking to keep Washington senior Dante Pettis (three punt return scores) in check after he matched the NCAA career record of eight punt return touchdowns — tying Texas Tech’s Wes Welker (2000-03) and Oklahoma’s Antonio Perkins (2001-04) — and tied the record of scores in three consecutive games (Kansas State’s David Allen in 1998 and North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer in 2013) with a 77-yard touchdown return in last Saturday’s victory over Fresno State. “He’s a guy we have to know where he is on the field, offensively and punt returns,” said Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre, who recalled Pettis’ 87-yard scoring return in 2014 against his team. “We’re working hard at that and hopefully we can corral him.”
TV: 10 p.m. ET, FS1. LINE: Washington -11.
ABOUT WASHINGTON (3-0): Junior quarterback Jake Browning has completed 74.4 percent of his passes this season for 798 yards and eight touchdowns against one interception but was shut down by the Buffaloes in last season’s Pac-12 title game, when he went 9-of-24 passing for 118 yards, though he did throw two touchdown passes. “I played awful against them last year in the Pac-12 championship,” Browning told reporters. “That’s something that I remember but I don’t think it motivates me more. If you always need stuff to motivate you, you won’t play well in all the games.” Senior inside linebacker Kieshawn Bierria has seven career fumble recoveries, one shy of the school mark shared by three players.
ABOUT COLORADO (3-0): Sophomore quarterback Steven Montez (858 yards, six touchdowns) is developing fast as a first-year starter and passed for 357 yards and four touchdowns in last Saturday’s 41-21 victory over Northern Colorado. Senior wideout Shay Fields (19 receptions for 257 yards) ranks fourth in school history with 163 career receptions while senior tailback Phillip Lindsay (378 rushing yards, three scores) became the ninth player in school history to reach 25 career rushing touchdowns. Junior inside linebacker Drew Lewis (team-best 35 tackles) is the first Colorado player with 10 or more tackles in each of his first three career starts since former standout Greg Biekert did it four straight times in 1990.
1. Washington leads the series 10-5-1 and has won the past seven meetings.
2. Buffaloes junior P Alex Kinney has punted 15 times and only two have been returned — for nine total yards.
3. Huskies junior RB Myles Gaskin has just 153 rushing yards after topping 1,300 in each of his first two seasons.
PREDICTION: Washington 30, Colorado 24