BOULDER – Memories of the 2017 bout bring shivers. It was freezing. Rain droplets – some big enough to quench the sideline’s thirst – flew sideways nearly blinding all attendees bold enough to gut out all 60 minutes of the Cougs shutout victory.
It’s safe to say a lot can change from year to year.
Under blue skies and mild mountain winds, Colorado (5-5, 2-5) hosted Washington State (9-1, 6-1) looking to settle a score and gain bowl eligibility in front of 45,587 eager fans. But it wasn’t that easy as Washington State would prevailed by a 31-7 margin for their first celebration at Folsom Field under Mike Leach’s tenure.
“It a huge win. Any win on the road in our conference is hard. It’s hard going down that path of real quality opponents,” Leach said.
The Buffs struck first bullying their way into WSU territory behind halfback Travon McMillian’s explosive 64-yard carry. Breaking the goose-egg stalemate on a 3-yard draw the following play, Wazzu found themselves behind the eight ball.
A 39-yard field goal conversion by placekicker Blake Mazza answered. And with true freshman Max Borghi’s homecoming on the line, the halfback took matters into his own hands. He scampered 28-yards past the south end zone’s corner pylon – off a check down, mind you – celebrating the newly acquired Cougar lead.
“I take it week by week, but this is one I circled on the calendar,” Borghi said. “Obviously to go back home and play in front of everyone I know, it’s a big deal.”
The first half stat sheet may as well have been written in crimson ink on gray paper, but the hometown Buffalos refused premature dismissal despite several cues. A dangerously close affair favored WSU 10-7 at break.
The second half was lopsided as any highlighting 21 unanswered points for Wazzu. Gardner Minshew II finally calibrated the offense completing 60 percent of his passes for 335 yards and 3 scores (2 passing, 1 rushing).
It wasn’t the signal callers prettiest outing, but it got the job done. WSU played ball hog all night owning possession for over 41 minutes, running 94 plays, and gaining 477 total yards of offense.
“We just had to find completions any way we could get them,” Minshew II said.
Linebacker Peyton Pelluer, tying the school record for career games played, ended the night with no recorded tackles for the first time since his freshman year. Finding other ways to impact the game, all in attendance heard the sixth-year senior’s surname boom over the public address thanks to two fumble recoveries.
“It’s good to see him beat out his uncles, his dad, his grandparents, and his great grandparents,” Leach joked in the postgame presser.
Behind his lead, WSU’s defense carded a season high 3 turnovers – all in the second half – which the offense crafted into 14 points. Peyton Pelluer and Kendron Williams (interception), may as well have been bouncers at a local bar as they prohibited any Buffalo advancements. Linebacker Jahad Woods would end the night as the units leading tackler totaling 5 tallies.
“It’s like a chain reaction,” James Williams said. “we do something for [the defense], they do something for us.”
Washington State moves to 9-1 on the year returning home next week for a showdown with the Arizona Wildcats (5-5, 4-2) and a chance to win 10 games for the first time since 2003. Kickoff time and coverage of the action remains undetermined.
Q1 4:14 – CU 7, WSU 0
Colorado halfback Travon McMillian gashes the Cougar secondary on a 64-yard draw setting up a 3-yard touchdown rush the following down.
Q2 13:37 – CU 7, WSU 3
WSU marched 57 yards in 10 plays to set up placekicker Blake Mazza 39-yard out putting WSU on the board.
Q2 8:31 – WSU 10, CU 7
Max Borghi responds to McMillian taking a Minshew II check down 28 yards to the house in his homecoming debut. (Mazza kick good)
Q3 10:56 – WSU 17, CU 7
WSU linebacker Jahad Woods stripped McMillian setting up a 7-play, 32-yard drive. Minshew II hit receiver Renard Bell in the back of the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown reception. (Mazza kick good)
Q4 14;27 – WSU 24, CU 7
Minshew II turned a Colorado defensive back into stone reaching over the corner pylon on a 9-yard scramble. (Mazza kick good)
Q4 3:46 – WSU 31, CU 7
Veteran halfback James Williams tacks on a 3-yard touchdown rush with just minutes to play; it appeared to be the final nail in the coffin.