BOULDER, Colo. — Sefo Liufau threw for 345 yards, rushed for 108 more and scored three touchdowns as No. 12 Colorado beat No. 20 Washington State 38-24 on Saturday in a matchup of unlikely Pac-12 division leaders.
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.
"It means the world to go out there and win, keep our hopes alive," Liufau said. "It's more fun than anything. We've been in close games for a long time now. We've gotten a little older and a little better at being consistent and executing."
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. He becomes the second-ever Colorado player to throw for 300 and rush for 100 in a game, joining Steven Montez, who accomplished the feat at Oregon in September while filling in for a banged-up Liufau.
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.
"I just thought we were incohesive as far as doing our jobs," Washington State coach Mike Leach said.
Colorado's defense stepped up after the Buffaloes fell behind 24-21 late in the third quarter. The next four Washington State drives went like this: Turned the ball over on downs, punt, fumble and interception.
"We lost focus and in the second half we buckled down," defensive back Chidobe Awuzie said.
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.
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.
The Cougars finished 2 of 4 on fourth-down attempts.
"We were close on two of those," Leach said. "One of them I probably should have kicked a field goal. In the end, it probably wouldn't have mattered."
Washington State: Standout receiver River Cracraft didn't play because of what's been reported as a torn ACL suffered last week. The Cougars made up for his absence by spreading around the wealth. Ten different players caught at least one pass.
Colorado: The 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.
Washington State: The annual Apple Cup takes on added importance on Friday. The Pac-12 North title will be at stake.
Colorado: 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.