De­spite slow start, Min­shew leads Cougars over Colorado

The Olympian - - Front Page - BY ARNIE STA­PLE­TON As­so­ci­ated Press

Gard­ner Min­shew II over­came a slow start and three fourth­down fail­ures to lead No. 10 Wash­ing­ton State past nose- div­ing Colorado 31-7 on Satur­day.

The Cougars (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12, No. 8 CFP) won their sixth straight, but it wasn’t as easy as ex­pected against the Buf­faloes (5-5, 2-5), who lost their fifth straight de­spite the re­turn of star re­ceiver Laviska Shenault Jr.

Wash­ing­ton State led by three at the half and seven head­ing into the fourth quar­ter, but they did dom­i­nate the clock, lim­ited Colorado to an av­er­age pos­ses­sion time of less than 90 sec­onds on their dozen drives out­side of the end-of-first-half se­ries.

“We hogged the ball the whole game,” Cougars coach Mike Leach said. “But I thought we could have cap­i­tal­ized on more stuff.”

Shenault, who had 11 touch­downs dur­ing the Buffs’ 5-0 start, was rusty in his re­turn from a right turf toe in­jury. He caught 10 passes for 102 yards but cost his team dearly with back-to-back drops and a lost fum­ble.

“I was pretty close” to 100 per­cent, Shenault said. “I’m feel­ing fine.”

Wash­ing­ton State led just 10-7 at the break but line­backer Ja­had Woods forced and re­cov­ered Travon McMil­lian’s fum­ble at the Colorado 32 on the sec­ond play of the sec­ond half and Min­shew threw a 1-yard dart to Re­nard Bell, spark­ing a 21-0 run that buried the Buffs.

Min­shew, who was hardly pres­sured all af­ter­noon, fin­ished 35-of-58 pass­ing for 335 yards and two TDs. He made it 24-7 on a 10-yard scram­ble in the fourth quar­ter. That drive was kept alive when Buffs safety

Aaron Mad­dox was flagged for taunt­ing Ea­sop Win­ston on a key third down.

“That was all on me,” Mad­dox said. “I prom­ise you that won’t hap­pen again.”

In the first half, Min­shew didn’t look any­thing like the na­tion’s lead­ing passer that he is.

After hav­ing to burn a time­out be­fore the first snap of the game and an­other one be­fore the first quar­ter ended with Wash­ing­ton State still score­less, the Cougars fi­nally got on the board with a 39-yard field goal.

They caught a huge break when line­backer Nate Land­man, the Buffs’ lead­ing tack­ler, was ejected for tar­get­ing after stuff­ing Min­shew for no gain on a sec­ond-and-1 keeper in the sec­ond quar­ter. Min­shew ran around his left tackle and was duck­ing when Land­man hit him.

“Los­ing Nate’s a tough blow,” Colorado coach Mike MacIn­tyre said. “Some of the mis­takes we had un­der­neath, he would have made.”

With­out Land­man, who was also ejected Oct. 6 against Ari­zona State, the Buffs couldn’t stop the Cougars from tak­ing a 10-7 half­time lead on run­ning back Max Borghi’s 28-yard catch and run .

On the Cougars’ fi­nal pos­ses­sion of the first half, Min­shew was 1 for 7 with five over­throws and a drop.

Steven Mon­tez wasn’t much bet­ter for the Buffs. He threw at Juwann Win­free’s shoelaces when he was wide open for a huge gain to kill a drive and went into the locker room hav­ing thrown for just 67 first-half yards. He fin­ished 20 of 35 for 199 yards.

De­spite their de­fense hold­ing an op­po­nent score­less in the first quar­ter for the fifth straight game , the Buffs didn’t cap­i­tal­ize as much as they could have. They only crossed mid­field once in their seven first-half pos­ses­sions, and that came on McMil­lian’s 64-yard scam­per to the 3. He ran it in on the next play for a 7-0 lead.

THE TAKE­AWAY

Wash­ing­ton State: The Cougars took their time bury­ing the Buf­faloes, but in the end, it was a solid rout thanks to their great de­fense and stout of­fen­sive line that kept Min­shew’s jer­sey laun­dryfresh.

DAVID ZA­LUBOWSKI AP

Wash­ing­ton State quar­ter­back Gard­ner Min­shew points to the score­board to call for a re­view of his run that was ruled a touch­down in the sec­ond half Satur­day in Boul­der.

DAVID ZA­LUBOWSKI AP

Wash­ing­ton State wide re­ceiver Dez­mon Pat­mon, right, slips past Colorado de­fen­sive back Aaron Mad­dox for a short gain after pulling in a pass in the first half Satur­day in Boul­der. The Cougars had 335 yards through the air and two touch­downs in a 31-7 vic­tory.

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