By Pat Graham, AP Sports Writer
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Sefo Liufau threw for 345 yards, rushed for 108 more and scored three touchdowns as No. 12 Colorado beat No. 20 Washington State 38-24 on Saturday in a matchup of unlikely Pac-12 division leaders.
Phillip Lindsay added 144 yards rushing and two TDs for the Buffaloes (9-2, 7-1, No. 10 CFP), who can wrap up the South side of the conference if Southern California loses to UCLA later Saturday or by beating Utah next week.
Liufau briefly left in the fourth quarter only to return and pick up a crucial third-and-short that led to a game-sealing TD run by Lindsay.
Luke Falk threw for 325 yards and three scores for Washington State (8-3, 7-1, No. 22 CFP), which had won eight in a row. The Cougars can still win the North Division with a victory against No. 7 Washington next week.
The Colorado defense did its part, too, with Jimmie Gilbert forcing Falk to fumble with around 3 minutes remaining and Addison Gillam pouncing on it.
Washington State and Colorado weren’t really expected to be in position for a division title this late into November. The Cougars were picked to finish fourth in the North during the preseason conference poll and the Buffaloes last in the South.
Mike Leach’s gambling mentality cost the Cougars a possible field goal when he went for it on fourth-and-4 in the fourth quarter. Colorado safety Nick Fisher tackled receiver Kyle Sweet short of the first down.
Earlier, Leach rolled the dice on fourth-and-1 at his own 41 and Jamal Morrow rewarded his faith by gaining 30 yards. John Thompson later hauled in a 7-yard TD pass to give the Cougars a 24-21 lead.
The Cougars finished 2 of 4 on fourth-down attempts.
Washington State: Standout receiver River Cracraft didn’t play because of what’s been reported as a torn ACL suffered last week. The Cougars made up for his absence by spreading around the wealth. Ten different players caught at least one pass.
Colorado: The defense came up big in the fourth quarter with the only two sacks of Falk. This after being dealt a big blow in the first quarter when safety Afolabi Laguda was ejected for targeting.
The Buffaloes have dubbed this season “The Rise.” That should continue in the polls. Hard to see Washington State dropping much after this thriller.
Washington State: The annual Apple Cup takes on added importance on Friday. The Pac-12 North title will be at stake.
Colorado: Close out the regular season by hosting Utah on Friday. This game always seems to go down to the wire, with all five games since 2011 decided by a total of 27 points.