For the Colorado Buffaloes, the story was simple: win out and compete for a chance to play in the College Football Playoffs.
The Buffs, who are currently ranked No. 10 in the College Football Playoff Rankings were facing a daunting task: In order to get in, they would have to beat three ranked opponents, two of which remain on their regular season schedule, and if they get by those, whoever awaits them in the Pac-12 championship.
On Saturday afternoon, the Buffs welcomed their first ranked opponent, the No. 20 Washington State Cougars, into Boulder.
The Buffs, who were picked to finish last place in the Pac-12 South can now check off one of those ranked opponents, as they beat the Cougars by a score of 38-24.
The Washington State Cougars brought in their high-powered offense, headed by Luke Falk, the active career leader in passing yards at Washington State and quarterback of the second best passing attack in the nation.
Falk came into the game and was as good as advertised. He finished with 325 yards and 3 touchdowns, while throwing one interception. He will definitely be playing on Sundays and Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie agrees.
“He might be the most complete quarterback that we’ve seen,” Awuzie said. “Some of the balls he was throwing, you can tell he is a NFL QB. We were right there at times and he would just throw it on the dime.”
Heading into the fourth quarter it was a very tight game, as the Buffaloes were only leading by one point. Falk threw some incredible passes and had the Cougars within striking distance.
But when it mattered most, in the fourth quarter, it was the Buffs defense that showed up and made a few stops, holding the Cougars to zero points in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve accomplished a lot of stuff during the season, but one thing we haven’t done is beat a ranked opponent,” Awuzie said. “So that was a real good personal goal and defensive goal, and we talked about and let it be known.“
The win against the Cougars snapped a 23-game losing streak against ranked opponents.
While Washington State came into the game with the No. 1 rushing defense in the Pac-12, allowing only 116.9 yards per game, Lindsay and Liufau kept the offense afloat as the Buffs rushed for 258 yards.
Phillip Lindsay finished with 144 yards on the ground and also scored twice on the day. He has been having an impressive season and now has 1,078 yards on the year. He is the first Buff to do that since 2010. He now sits at No. 15 all time on CU’s rushing list.
Liufau on the other hand did it all, as he threw for 345 yards and also rushed for 108 yards, including three touchdowns.
“It means the world to go out there and win and keep our hopes alive,” Liufau said. “It’s more fun than anything. We’ve been in close games for a long time now. We’ve gotten a little older and a little better at being consistent and executing.”
The Buffaloes now have one win standing in between them and winning the Pac-12 South as they face Utah at home on Friday.
The stakes are higher than ever.