David Zalubowski/Associated Press
David Zalubowski/Associated Press
BOULDER, Colo. – Colorado rose up on defense, but the offense wilted against Washington. Now the Buffaloes have one chance left to avoid being on the wrong side of history.
Keith Price threw a career-best five touchdown passes and Washington overcame a slow start to whip hapless Colorado 38-3 on Saturday for the Huskies’ fourth consecutive win.
After committing five costly turnovers in this one, the Buffaloes will have to beat Utah on Friday to avoid the worst record in school history and their first winless season at home since 1920.
“What I’ve been telling the guys, I don’t even want you to play for me or just play for the seniors; play for yourselves,” senior tight end Nick Kasa said. “Because we can’t be that team that never won at home; that’s just embarrassing. We’re going to go out and get this win.”
Washington senior Justin Glenn recognized the disappointed looks of the Colorado players during the game. He lived through a similar season as a freshman.
“I saw it, and they just looked dead,” he said. “Me and Cody (Bruns) were talking about that how our freshman year, you just don’t have hope coming into a game, it’s just not the same. And it feels great to be on the opposite end of that.”
The Buffaloes’ defense did its job before wearing down in the second half, forcing a fumble near the goal line and holding the Huskies scoreless until Price threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Bruns with 1:02 left in the second quarter.
Colorado’s offense wasn’t nearly as productive. Sophomore quarterback Connor Wood struggled in his first start, going 3 of 6 for 11 yards and two interceptions before he was replaced by Jordan Webb, who started the first nine games. Things didn’t get much better – Webb ran a quarterback sneak on first down in an apparent miscommunication from the sideline.
“They originally had it as third down, so we signaled him quarterback sneak,” Colorado head coach Jon Embree said. “Then they gave him the first down, and he didn’t get the signal what the play was supposed to be.”
Webb had 33 yards passing before giving way to John Schrock. Colorado (1-10, 1-7 Pac-12) finished with 51 yards passing.
“We’ve struggled at that position, so we’ve got to find a way to fix it,” Embree said. “It is what it is, unfortunately, right now. We’ve got to find the guy who can hopefully give us a chance to be more productive on that side.”
The Huskies (7-4, 5-3) found their groove in the second half.
Bishop Sankey atoned for a first-half fumble at the 1 by running through Colorado’s defense for 139 yards and collecting 48 more on four receptions as the Huskies won consecutive road games for just the second time in the last decade.
Price completed 22 of 29 passes for 248 yards with no interceptions.
The Buffaloes held an opponent scoreless in the first quarter for the first time this season but still trailed 7-0 at halftime after running their own scoreless streak at Folsom Field to eight quarters.
Two big blunders by the Buffs led to 14 quick points and ended hopes of an upset in a stadium that mostly was empty with the campus on Thanksgiving break and the program in a downward spiral under Embree.
A punt hit Colorado’s Nelson Spruce, and Will Shamburger recovered for Washington at the Colorado 35 after a save by teammate Kevin Smith as the ball was bouncing out of bounds. Three plays later, Price found Kasen Williams in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown.
“The kid just made a great play,” Spruce said. “One of our guys got it and didn’t hold onto it, and they ended up recovering it.”
Huskies tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, playing defensive end on third downs with Washington’s defensive line riddled with injuries, then recovered a fumble after Josh Shirley’s sack-strip of Webb. Fifteen seconds later, Price hit Kendyl Taylor for a 23-yard touchdown and a 21-0 lead.
Marques Mosley returned the ensuing kickoff 59 yards, setting up Will Oliver’s 37-yard field goal that snapped the Buffs’ home scoring drought, which had dated to the first half of a game against Arizona State on Oct. 11. They subsequently were shut out 48-0 by Stanford.
“I don’t know why we’re better on the road than at home offensively. That makes no sense to me,” Embree said. “Part of it’s opponents, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be that.”
The Huskies responded with a 17-point blitz that included touchdown passes from Price of 3 yards to Seferian-Jenkins and 18 yards to Jaydon Mickens against a tired Colorado defense.
“Eventually that’s what happens to your defense if you’re out there all the time,” Embree said. “If it’s three-and-outs and you consistently have to come back out there, they’re going to get worn down.”
The Huskies caught the first big break of the game when Marcus Peters pressured Wood into a poor pass that Shaq Thompson intercepted at midfield. After reaching the Colorado 13, however, the drive stalled and on fourth-and-10, Travis Coons banged the ball off the left upright.
He later was good from 25 yards out.
Later, Buffs linebacker Doug Rippy stripped Sankey at the 1, and Jon Major recovered for Colorado. Wood quickly followed with his second interception, this one picked off by safety Sean Parker.