NCAAF Game Preview: Washington vs. Colorado - Date: 9/23/2017 Sep 19, 2017 Washington might experience a test for the first time this season when it opens Pac-12 play at Colorado on Saturday. Las Vegas Handicappers. The No. 7 Huskies (3-0) played three overmatched opponents, so it is hard to gauge the readiness of the team heading into the more demanding part of the schedule. Free Sport Pick. The Buffaloes are also 3-0 and appear to be a much more fearsome challenger than Washington's first three opponents: Rutgers, Montana and Fresno State. Even Huskies coach Chris Petersen had to admit the first three games weren't of the arduous variety. "Away we go and now we start the hard part of our season," Petersen said Monday. "The one thing that you notice for the most part is everybody realizes league has started now and the intensity of those games kind of feel a little bit different. "It's not like kids play harder or don't play harder depending on the game . . . but maybe leading up to it there is a little more focus. Everybody understands how competitive this league is that we play in. " The contest with Colorado also is a rematch of last season's Pac-12 championship game. The Huskies rolled to a 41-10 victory in that meeting. Petersen regularly states that nothing that occurred last season matters during this season; he stayed true to form this week. "It's not that I want them to remember or forget, has nothing to do with that," Petersen said. "I've said this many times: the lessons that we've learned, good and bad, from last year's season, we always want that to carry over so we can learn. "But this is a completely new season, early in the year, completely different energies and rhythms. " Colorado certainly wouldn't mind erasing the Pac-12 title contest from the memory banks. Best Sports Picks Service. The Buffaloes are looking to start 4-0 for the first time since winning five straight to open the 1998 campaign, and coach Mike MacIntyre doesn't plan to say much about last December's disappointing defeat. "You can't ever forget it. Our young men will use it as motivation," MacIntyre said. "I won't have to say much about it at all. " One player Colorado will discuss -- a lot -- is Washington receiver Dante Pettis, who doubles as the nation's top punt returner. The senior returned a punt for a score in each of Washington's first three games to tie the NCAA record for consecutive games with a punt-return touchdown, shared by Kansas State's David Allen (1998) and North Carolina's Ryan Switzer (2013). His 77-yard touchdown return in last Saturday's victory over Fresno State was the eighth of his career, tying the NCAA mark shared by Texas Tech's Wes Welker (2000-03) and Oklahoma's Antonio Perkins (2001-04). MacIntyre witnessed Pettis' first punt-return score -- from the sidelines as Pettis sailed 87 yards in a 2014 contest in Boulder. "He's a guy we have to know where he is on the field, offensively and punt returns," MacIntyre said. "We're working hard at that and hopefully we can corral him. " The ability of Colorado junior punter Alex Kinney to prevent returns could be a key factor in the contest. Kinney has punted 15 times in the first three games and only two of them were returned for a total of nine yards. Keeping Pettis in check is crucial for Colorado in its bid to halt its seven-game skid against the Huskies. Also pivotal will be the performance of sophomore quarterback Steven Montez. The first-year starter has been poised so far while completing 68. 3 percent of his passes for 858 yards and six touchdowns against three interceptions. Senior tailback Phillip Lindsay leads the ground game with 378 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, junior inside linebacker Drew Lewis (35 tackles), senior defensive end Leon Jackson III (four sacks) and junior cornerback Isaiah Oliver (two interceptions) are off to solid starts. Lewis is the first Colorado player to post 10 or more tackles in each of his first three career starts since former standout Greg Biekert recorded four in a row to start the 1990 season. Though the Buffaloes were routed by the Huskies last December, they did harass Washington quarterback Jake Browning into a 9-of-24 performance. Browning threw two touchdown passes but accumulated just 118 yards. "I played awful against them last year in the Pac-12 championship," Browning told reporters. "That's something that I remember but I don't think it motivates me more. If you always need stuff to motivate you, you won't play well in all the games. " Browning's junior senior is off to a good start. He has completed 74. 4 percent of his passes for 798 yards and eight touchdowns against one interception. The Huskies' running game has been virtually non-existent and ranks just 95th nationally at 129. 7 yards per game. Junior Myles Gaskin -- a 1,300-yard rusher each of the past two seasons -- has just 153 through three games. Washington holds a 10-5-1 series lead against Colorado.
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