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Colorado vs. CSU mini-preview: Rocky Mountain Showdown holds high stakes for Buffs

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It's make or break time for Mike MacIntyre. He's back in Boulder yet again but he has yet to prove that Colorado has made the necessary improvements to be a major power. Can he turn things around?

How Colorado can take the Rocky Mountain Showdown: Nelson Spruce is gone, leaving the Buffs in need of the rest of the talent to pick up the slack. Colorado landed their most talented recruiting class since Mac arrived on campus, so one or more of the youngsters needs to help out Sefo Liufau find his footing.

The good news is Colorado State might be a ripe test. The Rams are replacing all their safeties. Colorado State is losing their ENTIRE starting defensive line. This is a young team in Fort Collins. Colorado should have a significant experience advantage in the offense-defense matchup, and Liufau gives the Buffs a steady enough hand to try and keep the rivalry strong.

How Colorado fans could become sad again: Colorado killed themselves over and over with mental errors last season, blowing chance after chance to capture Pac-12 wins. Keeping control of the football will be critical if they expect to land an upset or two next season. The Rams might not be quite as good as their previous incarnations, but they are going to be a force to be reckoned with in upcoming years.

Prediction: Colorado is the better team, but not by a whole lot. The Buffs need to keep their offense flowing just enough and make sure their defense doesn't trip up on themselves.