Pullman, Wash. (AP) – Cameron Ward threw for 288 yards and four TDs, Brennan Jackson had two TDs and a score and Washington State beat Colorado 56-14 on Friday night to snap a six-game losing streak and end the Buffaloes. Hopes for a bowl game in year one under Deion Sanders.
Colorado quarterback Shedor Sanders left the game in the second quarter after taking a hard hit on a botched snap. Sanders was slow to get up but walked off the field on his own before being taken to the locker room. The junior was 6 of 10 for 86 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown strike to Travis Hunter. The coach’s son, Sanders, was sacked four times before leaving the game.
“He had some numbness in his hand and couldn’t catch the ball,” Sanders said. “But after that second hit he just took, we decided not to send him back out.”
Colorado (4-7, 1-7 Pac-12 Conference) and “Coach Prime” were college football’s favorites after a 3-0 start, but the team has lost seven of eight since then.
Despite the huge improvement over last year’s win total, Sanders said the program measures itself against its own expectations.
“We’re not able to achieve what we’re capable of, and that’s the part that’s hardest to swallow. We have high expectations here, so this is very disappointing,” Sanders said.
Washington State (5-6, 2-6) kept its bowl game hopes alive with the win, but the Cougars will need to find a way to beat rival Washington next week in the Apple Cup to finish the job.
Jackson returned a pair of fumbles for touchdowns on runs of 48 and 78 yards respectively, helping the Cougars to their biggest Pac-12 victory since 2016. The Cougar defense forced three turnovers on a Colorado offense that committed just seven all season.
On the Buffs’ second possession, Ron Stone Jr. Jackson picked off a Sanders strip sack and returned it for his first score of the night to give the Cougars a 14-0 lead. The hit sidelined Sanders for a series before a big hit in the second quarter knocked him out for the night.
Hunter’s 45-yard touchdown run brought the Buffs within the score for one play before Leighton Smithson stifled all of Colorado’s momentum with a 98-yard kickoff return, Washington State’s first since 2018.
Ward put it together from there, finding Nakia Watson for a 23-yard touchdown before connecting with his own number on 1- and 2-yard touchdowns on back-to-back possessions to give the Cougars a 42-7 lead at halftime.
Ward dropped in a 34-yard touchdown throw to Kyle Williams before Jackson picked off his second fumble and returned it for a touchdown and a 56-7 lead.
“They came to play from start to finish. They executed early, they executed often, and they came to play,” Sanders said. “And with Shader on top of it all, it was tough.”
Ryan Staub and Gavin Cold rotated possessions in relief of Sanders but combined for just 79 yards and two turnovers. Hunter led the team with 82 rushing yards.
Washington State: The Cougars ended their longest losing streak since 2013 with a 42-point barrage in the first half after averaging just 20 points per game over the past six weeks. Their defensive line was annoying from the start, shutting down Sanders with four sacks in the first quarter alone.
Colorado: The Buffaloes’ postseason hopes were dashed after their biggest loss in the “Head Coach” era. The Buffs have allowed an FBS-worst 54 sacks this season, and the Cougars’ pass rush has proven difficult to handle.
Colorado: The Buffaloes are on the road against No. 22 Utah on Nov. 25 before the two teams join the Big 12 Conference next season.
Washington State: The Cougars finished the regular season in fifth place in Washington in what could be the Apple Cup Final, and the Huskies will go to the Big Ten Conference next season.
Get alerts on the latest AP Top 25 poll all season long. Register here
AP College Football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll And https://apnews.com/hub/college-football