BOULDER - The dream is still alive in what is turning out to be a dream season for the University of Colorado.
Sefo Liufau threw for 345 yards, rushed for 108 more and scored three touchdowns as Colorado beat Washington State 38-24 on Saturday in a matchup of unlikely Pac-12 division leaders.
"I played well. I didn't do it by myself though," Liufau told 9NEWS. "Jay (MacIntyre) had a big game today, Shay (Fields) had a big game, the O-line was blocking well, I think I ran twice almost untouched. They helped me play very well tonight."
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.
"We knew it was going to be a dog fight. Our defense helped us out. Our defense balled out tonight," Lindsay told 9NEWS. "We stick together, that's what happens when you stick together."
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.
CU can now clinch a spot in the conference championship game with a win next week over Utah. That game is also in Boulder. Colorado has said from day 1 that the goal was to win the PAC-12 and they are now two wins from that becoming a reality.
It's fitting that Liufau is leading the charge after suffereing through three losing seasons as CU's quarterback.
"It really almost means everything to me that he's able to be the one to do it," said head coach Mike MacIntyre. "I said for a long time and I don't think many people believed me, that once our team caught up with Sefo that we would be successful. He just has that will power right now, he has that 'it' factor. Every once and a while you see that with quarterbacks at certain times. I'm just so happy he's able to do it, with all he's overcome."
The atmosphere in Boulder was electric as two ranked teams played at Folsom Field for the first time in more than a decade.
Colorado's 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.
Colorado will 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.
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