A bit wobbly at times, the Washington State Cougars nevertheless did their part Saturday to help keep the Apple Cup in two weeks a consequential affair with a workman-like, 31-7 victory (box) over injury-diminished Colorado at Boulder’s windy Folsom Field.
QB Gardner Minshew, the nation’s leading passer, had a more modest game as the Cougars (9-1, 6-1) did no damage to their pre-game national standing — eighth in the College Football Playoff rankings and 10th in the Associated Press poll.
Minshew was 35 for 58 for 335 yards and no turnovers, a 5.8 yard per pass attempt average, and also ran for 26 yards on six carries. Entering the game, he averaged 390.8 passing yards per game, tops in the country.
He threw for touchdowns of 28 yards to freshman RB Max Borghi and one yard to WR Renard Bell, and ran in another from 10 yards. RB James Williams ran six yards for WSU’s final score in the fourth quarter.
The Cougars, leading just 10-7 at half, gradually pulled away from the offense-starved Buffs, who had a 64-yard run from RB Travon McMillian on the first drive that set up their only score, but did almost nothing thereafter. QB Steve Montez was 20 for 35 for 199 yards, a 5.7 yard per pass play average.
The Cougars, who failed three times on fourth-down plays, won their previous two games by a combined nine points, 41-38 over Stanford and 19-13 over Cal.
The Cougars won their sixth in a row and the Buffs (5-5, 2-5) lost their fifth consecutive after starting 5-0. One of their losses was 27-13 to Washington Oct. 20.
The Huskies had a bye Saturday and will host Oregon State week, while WSU hosts Arizona (5-5, 4-3), which also had a bye.
If WSU and UW triumph, the Apple Cup Nov. 23 in Pullman will decide the Pac-12 Conference North title. The winner meets the South Division winner for the conference championship Nov. 30 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara and a berth in the Rose Bowl.