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Washington State vs. Colorado is an unlikely marquee matchup

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If I would have told you this would be the matchup of the year so far... You wouldn't believe me.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State was picked to finish 4th in the Pac-12 North. Colorado? Well, the Buffs were picked to finish last in the South.

Shows you what kind of psychics the media can be.

You know the rag to riches story the has brought Washington State back from the dead. One terrible loss, followed by one decent loss, followed by eight (mostly) convincing wins has the Cougs in the drivers seat. But for the Buffs, the path hasn't been as straight.

The Colorado Buffaloes weren't supposed to be good entering the 2016 season. In fact, their SBNation blog Ralphie Report listed this as their best case scenario:

8-4 ends a great season for the Buffs. They even end up on some people’s top 25 lists near the end... And best of all, CU gets its first winning season in a decade and the first bowl in 9 years.

(Also of note, that best case scenario has the Buffs losing to Washington State)

No one was expecting Colorado to have the season they've had... But it wasn't all sunshine for the Buffaloes. After starting the season with blow out wins against Colorado State and Idaho State, Colorado lost in the Big House, falling to Michigan 45-28. The next week, they struggled against, Oregon, but picked up the three point win. They would lose to USC by four points two weeks later, but since then, they've had little trouble with their competition.

Colorado has had success on two fronts. First, quarterback Sefo Liufau has been very safe this season. The Bellarmine Prep graduate has 192 pass attempts this season, and just 3 interceptions. Second, the Buffs have one of the best defenses in the conference. CU is tied for the best scoring defense in the nation, averaging just 17.9 points per game (tied with Washington) and leads the Pac-12 in total defense by a wide margin, giving up just over 208 yards per game (leading Washington by 28 yard per game). The Colorado defense will be the toughest the Cougs have faced all year, and by a wide margin.

Colorado's best win is a 10-5 victory over (a newly 24th ranked) Stanford, but the Buffs are still 10th in the nation. The knock against them is that they haven't beaten anyone... But you hear that a lot with the Cougars too.

This weekend is a chance for both teams to prove themselves with big rivalry games (in Colorado's case, I think it would be called a "rivalry game," emphasis on the "") on the horizon. It should be a fun one Saturday in Boulder.

Football

WSU Cougars edge up to No. 22 in latest College Football Playoff rankings | The Seattle Times
The Cougars have a seven-game win streak in conference play and are steadily moving up the national rankings.

WSU only rises to No. 22 in latest playoff rankings | The Spokesman-Review
PULLMAN – For the first time this season, there is not consensus among the various college football rankings when it comes to Washington State.

8 teams the College Football Playoff committee got totally wrong | FOX Sports
Look, I get that Washington State lost to Eastern Washington in Week 1, and to some that's an unforgiveable sin.

Colorado-Washington State is a big game -- surprisingly
When Washington State plays at Colorado on Saturday, it will be battle of Pac-12 division leaders. Washington State (8-2, 7-0) opened the season with a home loss to lower-division Eastern Washington and a defeat at Boise State.

Pac-12 football: Luke Falk, Washington State seeking perfect league record | The Salt Lake Tribune
If he leaves Washington State for the NFL after his junior season, former Logan High School quarterback Luke Falk never will have taken the field against Utah.

WSU running backs are the Pac-12’s most productive | The Spokesman-Review
Here is a difference between Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre and the casual college football fan: They look at the Washington State offense and see very different things.

Basketball

WSU beats Central Washington 81-76 in Tri-Cities | The Spokesman-Review
Ike Iroegbu spurred a second-half charge for the Washington State men’s basketball team, which fended off a sweet-shooting Central Washington University squad to emerge with an 81-76 win in Kennewick’s Toyota Center on Tuesday night.

Washington State men rally past Central Washington | The Seattle Times
The Cougars overcame a slow start for an 81-76 victory in Kennewick.

Washington State Cougars vs. Central Washington Wildcats basketball recap, Nov. 15 | Tri-City Herald
Ike Iroegbu scored 14 points in the second half to help the Cougars erase a 42-36 halftime deficit. WSU freshman Malachi Flynn tied for a team-high 18 points. Dom Hunter led the way for Central, scoring 25 to keep the D-II Wildcats close.