- Date: Saturday, August 26th
- Time: 11:30 AM PT
- Location: Colorado State Stadium (Fort Collins, CO)
- TV Coverage: CBS Sports Network
Last season, the Rams finished a game above the .500 mark (7-6) for the second straight year under head coach Mike Bobo, who is hoping to turn the program into perennial favorites in the Mountain West. To start the campaign, Colorado State was lambasted by in-state rival Colorado, 44-7, but the Rams finished strong, winning their last two contests of the regular season, headlined by a 32-point win on the road at San Diego State. Their hot finish earned them an invitation to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, where they fell to Idaho in a high-scoring, 61-50 affair. Overall, Colorado State had it’s moments but occasionally, the Rams fell short against stiffer competition and came undone during winnable games. That will be the point of change for Bobo and company heading into the 2017 season.
The third full year under Bobo, Colorado State is looking for this Fall to be their break-through campaign for a program that had it’s hits-and-misses over the past decade. Offensively, the Rams are absolutely loaded on paper, but this group will have to develop on the fly with a difficult non-conference schedule that includes the likes of the Beavers, Colorado and a road trip to Alabama. Within the Mountain West, every team is probably chasing Boise State at the moment (who the Rams are lucky enough to meet in Fort Collins this season) but a road trip to Wyoming could also be a serious cause for concern. It’ll be another grind of a season throughout the whole 2017 campaign for Colorado State.
What To Expect
Colorado State comes into the 2017 season with some lofty expectations, specifically referring to how the Rams potentially could be one of the best non-power five teams in the country. That’s a lot of weight to perform with, especially when Colorado and Alabama are just two of your first four opponents. The Rams have a 59% win probability in this one (compared to a 52% WP against Colorado) but overall, it’s projected as a sub-five point game winning margin after four quarters. That type of talk may not favor Colorado State.
Opening a brand new stadium will help fuel the Rams excitement for college football’s season opener and Bobo’s guys could feed off of that and kick-start their offense early, causing a long day for the Beavers defense. If this game sees 35-45 points scored on either end, the flow of the contest will probably favor the Rams. However, if Oregon State can turn this into a slower, well-churned battle of defensive ferocity, that style could lend itself towards the Beavers.
Overall, a close game until the final few minutes is an easy expectation, as is the fact that Colorado State’s defensive front-seven may win the battle at the line over the Beavers’ reworked front. To me, that is the ultimate key to this one. Sure, the Rams offense can get prolific but if Oregon State can execute offensively and keep Jake Luton/Marcus McMaryion/Darell Garretson operating from within the pocket, the Beavers can stand toe-to-toe with Colorado State.
Prediction: Colorado State 35, Oregon State 31
Players To Know
Nick Stevens (QB): Stevens spearheaded the revival of the Rams’ offense down the stretch to end the 2016 season, throwing for 1,859 yards and 19 touchdowns in an abbreviated slate of action. A precision-type passer, Stevens may be one of the surprise break-out gunslingers in the whole country.
Michael Gallup (WR): A shifty, 6’ 1” play-making receiver, Gallup will, without a doubt, be one of the toughest individual match-ups for the Beavers secondary all-season long. Gallup caught 76 passes last year for 1,272 yards and 14 scores in 2016 and those numbers could be replicated during the 2017 campaign.
Jake Bennett (C): A second team All-Mountain West selection a season ago, Bennett anchors the Rams’ offensive line, which allowed just one sack per game in 2016. Recently, he was named to the Rimington Trophy Watch-List, as one of the top centers in all of college football.
Josh Watson (LB): Last season, Watson had five games in which he posted double-digits tackles, as one of the evolving talents on the defensive side of things for the Rams. Athlon Sports projected Watson as an All-Mountain West second team selection in their 2017 college football preview.