PULLMAN, Washington — Six times Colorado rolled into Washington State's half of the field. The Buffaloes ended up with just three points to show for it.
There were too many empty trips for the Buffaloes to pull off the upset of the 24th-ranked Cougars.
"I guess I didn't have them ready enough to play," Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said. "We had some opportunities to go down and score there early and we missed those field goals and I went for it on fourth down and inches and we didn't get the inches."
Cade Apsay was 26 of 40 for 238 yards in his first college start, but Colorado's missed chances allowed the Cougars to pull away for a 27-3 win on Saturday night. Washington State won for the sixth time in seven games, reached the eight-win mark for the first time since 2003 and kept alive hopes for just the sixth 10-win season in school history.
Apsay made his first start in place of Sefo Liufau, who is out for the season due to a foot injury. Apsay was intercepted twice and the Buffaloes (4-8, 1-7 Pac-12) got just three points out of six drives into Washington State territory, including a poor snap on fourth-and-goal at the 2 with 7:42 left that Apsay could only dive on.
"I don't think we got enough reps before the game," Apsay said of snap problems that weren't isolated to that one fourth-down play.
Diego Gonzalez missed field goals of 47 and 33 yards in the first half and Apsay was picked off by Taylor Taliulu on fourth-and-19 early in the fourth quarter with the Buffaloes driving. Gonzalez hit from 24 yards late in the third quarter, but the three points were the fewest allowed by Washington State (8-3, 6-2) to a Pac-10/12 opponent since beating Oregon State 24-3 on Oct. 12, 1996.
The three points were the fewest by Colorado since being shut out by Stanford 48-0 in 2012. The one bright spot for Colorado was Nelson Spruce having 10 catches for 120 yards, his seventh career game with double-digit receptions.
"This sport right here, you got to have a dog in you and I feel like today we didn't go out there with that mentality," Colorado running back Phillip Lindsay said.
Colorado lost its fourth straight despite success moving the ball for chunks of the game against the Cougars. But they couldn't slow down Washington State's offense even after quarterback Luke Falk was taken off the field on a backboard following a scary moment in the third quarter.
Falk left on a backboard with 8:16 remaining in the third quarter after being sacked by Samson Kafovalu. Falk's head slammed against the turf on a below-freezing night on the Palouse, and he appeared to be knocked out. He was tended to on the field for 7 minutes, and his facemask was removed before he was immobilized and carted away. Falk gave two thumbs up and waved his hands as he left the field.
"I didn't know what happened. I was praying for the best," Washington State wide receiver Dom Williams said.
Falk finished 27 of 35 for 199 yards an 11-yard TD pass to Williams, but it's unclear if he'll be ready with such a short turnaround before Friday's Apple Cup against Washington. Falk's injury came a week after he was checked for a concussion against UCLA and passed protocol allowing him to return in the second half. Washington State coach Mike Leach tersely declined to answer questions about Falk's injury after Saturday's game.
Peyton Bender was 13 of 21 for 133 yards in place of Falk, including a 16-yard TD toss to Gabe Marks with 14:25 remaining for a 24-3 Washington State lead. It was Marks' 14th touchdown catch of the season, setting a new single-season school record. Marks also went over 1,000 yards receiving for the season, becoming the 11th different wide receiver in Washington State history to reach that mark.
Gerard Wicks rushed for 123 yards, becoming Washington State's first 100-yard rusher since James Montgomery in 2010 against Montana State. Keith Harrington added a 1-yard TD run for the Cougars.