On Friday night under the lights, the Colorado Buffaloes open their 2017 season in the Rocky Mountain Showdown in Denver against the Colorado State Rams. The Rams come into the showdown riding a wave of momentum, smashing Pac-12 Oregon State 58-27 to start the season 1-0. A rivalry that’s lost some of its luster playing at Mile High in previous years, could see over 70,000 fans for the first time in a long time.
On the offensive side of the ball, Colorado comes in even better equipped than last year, where they put up 44 points on the Rams in a rout. Colorado State struggled some on the defensive side of the ball on Saturday, and the very talented receiving corps of the Buffaloes could cause some serious issues for an inexperienced CSU secondary. The Rams were opportunistic last week, scoring 27 points on 5 Oregon State turnovers. Colorado will have to take care of the ball, and protect new starter Steven Montez. Expect the Buffaloes to test the secondary early with deep routes, as Devin Ross, Shay Fields, and Juwuan Winfree may have huge games against the Rams secondary. An experienced offensive line should be able to protect Montez, as well as spring senior running back Phillip Lindsay which should allow the play-action pass to develop and open up some windows for Montez to show off his arm.
Defensively, Colorado is a bit of a question mark. After losing most of their defense to graduation and the NFL, including three guys from their secondary, there will be a lot of new faces on the Buffaloes defense. Colorado State looked good against Oregon State on offense, with wide receiver Michael Gallup showing his speed, size, and ability to catch the ball in traffic. Expect to see Colorado cover man Isaiah Oliver to follow Gallup all over the field to try and take him out of the game. More impressive last week was the Rams ability to run the ball. Their running backs, Dalyn Dawkins and Rashaad Boddie provide a formidably 1-2 punch that can cause problems for an unproven Colorado defensive line. The Buffaloes must be able to put pressure on senior quarterback Nick Stephens, and the return of pass rusher Derrick McCartney from an ACL injury last year should help.
This game has all the makings of a shootout, with both offenses chewing up yards and putting up tons of points. Colorado State has a lot of confidence after last week, and that 44-7 beat down they took last year should motivate them big time. That being said, I think that Colorado’s defense will make a play late, force a turnover, and find a way to get it done. 44-34 Colorado.