Colorado State (0-0) vs Colorado (0-0)
When: Friday, September 2nd 2016
Where: Sports Authority Field, Denver, CO
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The Colorado Buffaloes and Colorado State Rams will once again kick off their season in the Rocky Mountain Showdown from Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colorado. Fourth-year head coach Mike MacIntyre is starting to feel the pressure in Boulder as the Buffaloes have not been to a Bowl game since 2007. Colorado is just 5-40 in conference play since joining the PAC-12 in 2011. Games with Michigan, Oregon, USC and Stanford are all on Colorado’s pre-Halloween schedule, putting added importance on getting off to a victorious start Friday and the following weekend against Idaho State. Colorado has one of the conference’s and nation’s most experienced rosters with 17 returning starters, including senior quarterback Sefo Liufau who has set or tied 75 program records. Linebackers Addison Gillam and Kenneth Olugbode and cornerback Chidobe Awuzie lead a defense which ranked second in the Pac-12 against the pass (218.2).
The Colorado State defense was also impressive last year against the pass, allowing just 177.6 yards a game through the air (9th nationally). The Rams have been to three straight Bowl games and second-year head coach Mike Bobo will look to keep the momentum going. Bobo has not named a starting QB, but it will be a surprise if it isn’t junior returnee Nick Stevens who tossed 21 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions last season. The Colorado State ground game is solid with Dalyn Dawkins and Izzy Matthews, who combined to rush for 1,678 yards and eight TDs a year ago. As good as the defense was against the pass last season, they were as bad against the run ranking 106th in the FBS (213.3 yards) in 2015.
Colorado may have more talent on their roster, but Colorado State has had more experience actually winning football games. These two teams have played a tight game here last year and I expect much of the same. I’ll take the points in this one.
Pick: Colorado State +8.5