Cameron Ward throws 4 TDs in first half, No. 23 Wazzu handles Northern Colorado 64-21
PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Cameron Ward passed for 327 yards and accounted for five first-half touchdowns, and No. 23 Washington State breezed to a 64-21 victory over FCS member Northern Colorado on Saturday.
The Cougars (3-0) were locked in after their emotional win over Wisconsin last week and showed no signs of looking ahead to next week’s Pac-12 Conference opener against No. 16 Oregon State at home.
Ward and the Washington State offense were crisp and explosive from the outset.
The junior quarterback completed his first 12 passes — including a 37-yard touchdown strike to Kyle Williams and a 28-yard TD pass to Lincoln Victor — to give Wazzu a 22-0 lead in the first quarter. Victor had six catches for 119 yards with a pair of TDs.
Ward also ran for an 8-yard touchdown on Washington State’s opening possession. He completed 20 of 26 passes.
“I thought Cam was phenomenal,” Washington State coach Jake Dickert said. “He was sharp. I thought he stayed in the pocket and stayed square.”
Ranked for the first time since 2019, the Cougars racked up 386 yards in the first half and scored touchdowns on all six of their drives to go up 43-0.
Their 43 points in the first half were their most since scoring 55 before the break against Arizona in 2018.
It was the focused effort Dickert wanted to see against a lesser foe sandwiched between big games.
“This was the one time we said, hey, we felt really confident about being the dominant team,” Dickert said. “So coming in here and really performing and not messing around and not turning the ball over, I think it speaks to the team, of the mindset of where we really want to go.”
Northern Colorado (0-3) punted on its first five possessions, including three-and-outs on the first two.
Jamarii Robinson’s juggling 18-yard touchdown catch gave the Bears their first points 12 seconds before halftime.
Northern Colorado quarterback Jacob Sirmon was 16 of 24 for 167 yards and two touchdowns returning to his home state. Sirmon also threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Darius Stewart in the fourth quarter.
“I just think they were better in every way,” first-year Northern Colorado coach Ed Lamb said. “I think their coaches know their personnel better than we know ours. Confidence is riding high right now in Pullman. It’s riding low in Greeley. We’re just at two completely different spots as a football program.”
KEEPING THE PRESSURE
After a career-best two-sack game against Wisconsin, Washington State edge rusher Ron Stone Jr. added a sack and tackle for loss in the first half against overmatched Northern Colorado. Fellow edge rusher Brennan Jackson also racked up a sack after recovering two fumbles last week on sacks from Stone Jr.
Washington State backup QB John Mateer did his best to match Ward’s flawless start. Mateer started the second half and completed his first six passes with TD tosses on the first two drives of the third quarter. Mateer was 7 of 8 for a career-high 138 yards before third-string QB Emmett Brown played the fourth.
The only slight downside for Wazzu was struggling early in the run game against a team picked by coaches and media to finish 10th in the Big Sky Conference.
Walk-on Dylan Paine led WSU with 81 yards rushing and scored his first career touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Starter Nakia Watson had 41 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Dickert said Watson should be fine after landing awkwardly after a run and exiting the game.
Northern Colorado: Visits Idaho State next Saturday.
Washington State: Hosts Oregon State next Saturday in a meeting of the only two schools remaining in the Pac-12 beyond the 2023-24 athletic year.
Shedeur Sanders sparks No. 18 Colorado to thrilling 43-35 win over Colorado State in 2 OTs
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — His mom gave the pregame speech. His defensive-back son started the scoring with an 80-yard pick-six. His quarterback son won it with a 98-yard drive for the ages and an overtime not soon forgotten.
It was quite a day for Deion Sanders. With a bunch of celebrity friends in town, too, to take it all in.
Shedeur Sanders threw a TD pass to Michael Harrison in the second overtime after leading the drive to tie the game with 36 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and No. 18 Colorado rallied to beat Colorado State 43-35 early Sunday in front of a full house packed with famous names.
It set off a celebration as fans rushed the field for a second straight week. This was the biggest fourth quarterback comeback for Colorado since 2005.
“We showed that we have no surrender or give-up in us,” Buffaloes coach Deion Sanders said. “They never doubted themselves.”
In the first OT, Shedeur Sanders patiently waited in the pocket until Harrison flashed open for a 3-yard score. Fowler-Nicolosi followed by connecting with Tory Horton on an 8-yard score.
With 2:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, Sanders and the Buffaloes (3-0) got the ball back on the 2-yard line and trailing 28-20. He led a seven-play drive that culminated with a 45-yard TD pass to Jimmy Horn Jr. with 36 seconds left. Sanders hit Harrison for the 2-point conversion.
“Well, we do it in practice all the time, so it’s not really a surprise to us,” Sanders said of the 98-yard drive. “We like these high-pressure moments”
His dad never doubted.
“This is who he is,” Deion Sanders said.
A 23 1/2-point underdog, the Rams led for a large chunk of the game. Their unraveling was 17 penalties for 182 yards, including a flag for a block below the waist that nullified a touchdown in the second overtime.
Rams coach Jay Norvell added spice to the Rocky Mountain Showdown earlier in the week by taking a jab at Deion Sanders for not taking off his sunglasses and hat in interviews. After the game, Sanders and Norvell shook hands near midfield amid a sea of fans.
“This rivalry has been going on way longer and before I got here,” said Norvell, who's in his second season at Colorado State. “It’s going to be going on way after I leave.”
As for their squabble, it's water under the bridge to Sanders.
“I wish the best for him," he said.
Sanders and the Buffaloes fed off the perceived slight all the way into the game. Shilo Sanders donned sunglasses after his 80-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter as his proud father raced down the sideline in happiness.
“Those ticket prices were worth it today,” Shilo Sanders said.
Shedeur Sanders finished with 348 yards, four TDs and one interception for the Buffaloes, who won their sixth straight over the Rams (0-2). Sanders was missing receiver/cornerback Travis Hunter, who was ruled out in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury and taken to the hospital for further evaluation. He could be out a few weeks.
Colorado State put a bye week to good use by finding ways to contain Sanders and the explosive Colorado offense for moments of the game. The Rams tried to spoil the party hosted by Deion Sanders, who had big-name celebrities in town such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and rapper Lil Wayne.
Fowler-Nicolosi had 367 yards and three TDs. Receiver Tory Horton caught a TD pass and threw another on a trick play to tight end Dallin Holker.
“Every loss hurts but this one does hurt a little more just the way we lost it,” Fowler-Nicolosi said. “It’s brutal.”
It was chippy at times, with Rams defensive lineman Mohamed Kamara getting a finger in the face mask from Shedeur Sanders after a play. Kamara was later disqualified in overtime for a targeting call on Sanders.
The emotions heated up early, too, with both teams gathering at midfield about an hour before kickoff and exchanging some words. Hunter left the gathering to run over to the student section and fire up the fans.
Deion Sanders has turned the Buffaloes into the talk of college football since taking over a team that went 1-11 last season.
This weekend, both ESPN’s “College GameDay” and Fox’s “Big Noon Kickoff” were on campus. Some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment turned up in Boulder, including “The Rock” appearing on the set of GameDay and took off his jacket to reveal he was wearing Shedeur Sanders' No. 2 jersey. The Buffaloes took the field to a mini-concert performed by Lil Wayne in the end zone just before kickoff ( Deion Sanders gifted him a jersey).
“They've got Lil Wayne over here, Coach Prime doing his thing. They've got a whole animal running around," Shilo Sanders said of the pregame festivities that also included the live buffalo mascot Ralphie running the field. “I would've been so scared if I was the other team.”
Colorado State: The Rams have lost 17 straight games to ranked teams on the road, according to Pac-12 research.
Colorado: The announced attendance was 53,141 in a game where tickets were going for an average purchase price is $214, according to TickPick. The Buffaloes have sold out five home games this season and are close to selling out a sixth (Arizona on Nov. 11).
Hard to say how voters will judge this. It was an epic comeback. But the Buffaloes were a big favorite.
Colorado State: Play at Middle Tennessee on Saturday.
Colorado: At No. 13 Oregon on Saturday.
Colorado two-way star Travis Hunter taken to hospital during game after late hit vs CSU
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — The University of Colorado rallied for the win over Colorado State on Saturday night but lost two-way star Travis Hunter when he was taken to a hospital for an evaluation during the third quarter at Folsom Field.
The school didn't immediately announce the reason Hunter was ruled out and transported to a hospital, but he absorbed an illegal hit to his midsection in the second quarter on an incompletion at the Colorado sideline.
Coach Deion Sanders had no update after the game other than to say, the “first thing I heard is he's going to be out a few weeks.”
Hunter had played almost every snap for the Buffs this season, playing wide receiver on offense and cornerback on defense.
“The bad thing about losing Travis,” said defensive back Shilo Sanders, “it's like you're losing two players at once.”
The Rams were whistled for two fouls on the play when Hunter got hit. Safety Henry Blackburn was flagged for pass interference and nickel back Ayden Hector was assessed a foul for unsportsmanlike conduct after a late hit out of bounds at Hunter's midsection.
Hunter, who earlier coughed up a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, returned to the game, playing on both offense and defense through the second quarter.
The Buffaloes trailed the Rams 21-14 when Hunter was transported to a hospital but rallied for a 43-35 win in double overtime to send CU to 3-0 and CSU to 0-2.
Along with Buffs quarterback Shedeur Sanders, Hunter has been mentioned as an early candidate for the Heisman Trophy after playing both cornerback and receiver.
Worthy TD sparks No. 4 Texas as Longhorns pull away late from Wyoming 31-10
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas players had insisted they could quickly move past the praise they earned with a thumping win at Alabama.
That clearly wasn't quite so easy to do. After a sluggish start against Wyoming, the Longhorns needed another big finish to pull away for a 31-10 win Saturday night in game that was tied after three quarters.
Texas did it with some razzle-dazzle from their big playmakers.
Jonathon Brooks added 164 yards rushing for Texas, which has scored 21 points in the fourth quarter of each game this season.
After their impressive win at Alabama, Texas jumped to its highest ranking in 14 years, then came home to find itself in a dogfight with a program that has never beaten a top-10 opponent.
“We had a lot of sore backs from people patting us on the back congratulating us,“ Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said. “It’s human nature to get distracted by that and you lose sight of what’s right in front of you.”
Wyoming (2-1) had already beaten Texas Tech of the Big 12 and wasn’t intimidated by the Texas sellout crowd of more than 100,000 and the fancy new stadium light show for the Longhorns.
The Cowboys struck first with Harrison Waylee’s 62-yard touchdown run on their first possession, then rallied to tie it at 10-10 late in the third with a 17-play drive that started inside their own 5 yard line.
Texas had the individual talent to take over in the fourth quarter.
Worthy caught a short sideline pass and looked like he was pinned there. Then he wasn’t. Worthy avoided one hit, then another two defenders as he tight-roped along the sideline all the way to the end zone.
“Our coaches preach that big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games,” Worthy said. “This really woke us up to not get complacent.”
Texas extended the lead to 24-10 on Quinn Ewers' short yard touchdown run. On Wyoming's next possession, Thompson stepped in front of a short pass from Evan Svoboda and went untouched 27 yards to the score.
Thompson also had a fourth-quarter interception against Alabama that set up a touchdown.
“I like being 3-0,” Sarkisian said. “That's a heckuva a lot better than any other outcome we could have.”
Wyoming: The Cowboys had some new names in key roles on offense. Svoboda got the start at quarterback in place of Andrew Peasely, whose gritty performance against Texas Tech carried Wyoming to that upset victory. Svoboda was solid until the late interception with 136 yards passing. Waylee, a transfer from Northern Illinois, played in his first game of the season and rushed for 110 yards.
Texas: The Longhorns avoided a massive letdown and upset on a night Ewers and the offense struggled for much of the game. Texas had just 316 total yards. Ewers passed for just 57 yards in the first half, missed receivers on several throws and floated a pass into coverage that should have been intercepted before Texas' first field goal. He will need to sharpen up like he was against Alabama heading into Big 12 play.
BIG MAN TOUCHDOWN
Texas' first touchdown was a Ewers 1-yard pass to Byron Murphy II. What's unusual about that? Murphy is a 6-foot-1, 310-pound nose tackle. He is also part of the Longhorns' goal line package. On his touchdown, Murphy slipped in the right flat as an eligible receiver and Ewers fired a pass that Murphy gently cradled into his chest before he was mobbed by teammates.
“Nobody gets more excited than a D-lineman when he catches a touchdown pass,” Sarkisian said.
The Longhorns' slow start likely won't hurt them in a week when several top teams struggled to put away opponents they were expected to beat. Look for them to stay right where they are.
Wyoming hosts Appalachian State on Saturday.
Texas starts its final Big 12 season at Baylor on Saturday.