Week 4 College Football Free Pick - Washington at Colorado
FREE PICK: Colorado +10.5 vs. Washington (Covers 55.4%)
With soft non-conference schedules, early-season takeaways are a challenge as Washington and Colorado boot up Pac-12 play. After all, the Huskies outscored their first three opponents 141-37, while the Buffaloes posted a 95-27 three-game final.
As was the case last season, both teams thrive on the defensive side of the ball. Washington ranked eighth nationally in points allowed last season, are currently ranked 13th at 12.3 points per pop and have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher. Colorado ranked 19th in total defense in 2016 and currently rank fourth in scoring defense at 8.0 points per game.
The Buffs' early-season defensive success will be tested by Huskies' returning quarterback and reigning Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Jake Browning. The junior trigger led the most successful offense in school history and helped Washington qualify for the College Football Playoff last season. Browning completed 62% of his passes with 43 touchdowns and only nine interceptions in 2016. He and receiver Dante Pettis have already connected 12 times for 209 yards with three scores. Pettis has also housed three punts for touchdowns in Washingtons' first three games. Colorado's special teams will need to be on its toes.
Buffaloes sophomore quarterback Steven Montez inherits the starting gig from Sefo Liufau who graduated after accounting for 2,860 yards of offense and 19 touchdowns last season in just 12 games. Montez threw for more than 1,000 yards with nine touchdowns in three 2016 contests when Liufau was out due to injury. Colorado also returns one of the most balanced receiving corps in the nation. Shay Fields (56 rec.), Devin Ross (69 rec.) and all-name team captain Bryce Bobo (44 rec.) have picked up right where they left off with 19, 14, 21 receptions, respectively, for at least 200 yards each with five touchdowns combined.
One last tidbit to remember on your way out the door, when these two teams met in the Pac-12 Championship game, Colorado only trailed 14-7 at intermission, but three second-half interceptions including a pick-six to start the third quarter derailed any comeback hopes. If anything, it showed the Buffs can hang with a stacked Huskies roster.
According to 50,000 games played by our simulation engine at PredictionMachine.com, Colorado wins over Washington just 25.4% of the time with an average losing score of 30.3 to 23.2. As a 10.5-point underdog losing by an average margin of just 7.1 points, the Buffaloes cover the spread 55.4% of the time, which would justify a $32 wager for an average $50 bettor.