PULLMAN — After a few frustrating weeks, Washington State coach Mike Leach was pleased to see the Cougars play with a level of consistency that has been absent.
“Consistency and the mental toughness to stay focused from one play to the next,” Leach said. “Everyone wants to get ahead of themselves but all you have is that one play in the present moment and you better focus on that one and I thought we did a better job of keeping track of that tonight.”
Anthony Gordon passed for 369 yards and four touchdowns and Washington State rolled over Colorado 41-10 on Saturday, snapping the Cougars’ three-game losing streak.
Gordon threw a 4-yard TD pass to Max Borghi and a 22-yarder to Dezmon Patmon in the first quarter as the Cougars (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) jumped out to a 14-0 lead and cruised to a needed victory. Gordon was 35-of-51 passing and connected with eight different receivers.
The WSU defense was excellent after weeks of getting shredded. Colorado was limited to 320 total yards and quarterback Steven Montez was intercepted twice.
“I think we are emerging defensively,” Leach said. “We simplified some things but we are still kind of coming together there a little bit, honestly. I think the defense has some of its best football ahead of us.”
Borghi was also outstanding on the ground, rushing for 105 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter that gave the Cougars a 21-3 lead.
Montez was 16-of-30 passing for 129 yards. Alex Fontenot had 11 carries for 105 yards, but the Buffaloes’ only touchdown came on Laviska Shenault Jr.’s 6-yard TD run in the third quarter that pulled Colorado (3-4, 1-3) within 24-10.
But Gordon responded with a 44-yard TD pass to Brandon Arconado and hit Tay Martin for a 1-yard TD early in the fourth quarter.
Colorado Coach Mel Tucker was frustrated with turnovers and the inability to finish drives.
“We need to be able to score touchdowns, especially against a team like this who can move the ball and score,” Tucker said. “That has been an issue for us the past couple of weeks. Obviously, we are moving the ball but we can’t finish drives and we missed a couple field goals. Those are thing that we have to get cleaned up.”
Washington State recorded three takeaways, improving to 28-5 since 2015 when forcing multiple turnovers. It was the first time the Cougars intercepted three passes in a game, one off of freshman quarterback Blake Stenstrom, since its win over Eastern Washington last season.
Borghi posted his third 100-yard rushing game of the season. Borghi is the first Cougar with three 100-yard games in a season since Jerome Harrison had eight in 2005. Borghi also had nine catches, tying a career high.
Montez was replaced in the fourth quarter by Tyler Lytle, but he was injured on his first play. Stenstrom stepped in for the first action of his career and his first pass attempt was intercepted.
Colorado: The Buffaloes lost their third straight and could not get off the field on third downs, continuing a season-long issue. Washington State converted 7-of-14 third downs. The Buffaloes were giving up 49% on third down entering the game.
Washington State: The Cougars were giving up 47.7 points per game in conference play, but didn’t allow Colorado out of its own territory on seven of its final nine drives. The Buffaloes had five drives of three plays or less.