CFB Prediction: Colorado vs Colorado State
Colorado vs Colorado State Preview
The Rocky Mountain Showdown kicks off the college football season for a pair of in-state rivals tonight as the Colorado Buffaloes take on the Colorado State Rams at Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colorado tonight at 10 P.M. ET on ESPN.
Get to know Colorado
It will be the first game for new Buffs head coach Mel Tucker, who replaced Mike MacIntyre after six seasons at the helm and only one winning season. However, CU has dominated CSU in the yearly matchup winning four straight and five of the last six contests between the schools.
Tucker has an experienced and explosive offense with senior quarterback Steven Montez and a group of wide receivers that are deep, talented and one of the best in the Pac-12. Laviska Shenault Jr. (Our No.1 WR in the 2020 NFL Draft), K.D. Nixon and Tony Brown lead a deep, experienced group loaded with at least a half-dozen players capable of producing game-breaking moments. It continues at running back, where the Buffs are inexperienced but by no means lacking in talent. Sophomore Alex Fontenot, freshman Jaren Mangham and redshirt freshman Deion Smith are all solid backs with explosive potential.
Offensive line will be the question mark for the offense–the Buffs have a pair of solid tackles in grad transfer Arlington Hambright on the left side and sophomore William Sherman on the right, a pair of battle-tested returnees in the middle in senior center Tim Lynott and sophomore right guard Colby Pursell, and a steady first-year starter in left guard Kary Kutsch. But they struggled a season ago keeping defenders away from Montez.
Defensively, there are a lot more question marks and it begins with the inexperience. Linebacker Nate Landman and defensive end Mustafa Johnson are two returning starters with a solid Pac-12 pedigree–they know what it’s like to play in a rivalry game like this. There is also some experience elsewhere on the defense. Outside linebacker Davion Taylor started 10 games last year, cornerback Delrick Abrams Jr. started eight and outside linebacker Carson Wells started six. The Buffs will also have a veteran at safety in graduate transfer Mikial Onu, who started 20 games in his career at SMU.
Get to know Colorado State
Colorado State comes into this game as the underdog and rightfully so, they are back to being the ‘little brother’ to Colorado. Collin Hill will quarterback the Rams in his first Rocky Mountain Showdown as the starter–the redshirt junior has potential but his career has been derailed due to injuries.
The Rams lost their top two receivers in Preston Williams and Olabisi Johnson, so they will need others to step up–Warren Jackson and Brendan Fulton are the listed starters and both are upperclassmen but they lack the overall talent to beat the Colorado secondary consistently.
In addition to losing their top receivers, CSU also lost their top running back in Izzy Matthews. Marcus McElroy and Marvin Kinsey will work in a committee approach after spelling Matthews for stretches last year–they had 115 carries for 475 yards in a secondary role in 2018.
The Achilles heel for the Rams defense for the past two season is inexperience. Not good news for CSU who’ll go up against one of the most experienced Buffs offensive attacks in recent memory.
It will be a long night for the Rams defense as they do not have the talent to keep up with CU.
Mel Tucker will become the sixth Colorado head coach to have their debut at the reins of the program televised nationally. He’ll join Chuck Fairbanks (ESPN; 1979 vs. Oregon), Rick Neuheisel (ABC; 1995 at Wisconsin), Gary Barnett (FOX; 1999, Colorado State in Denver), Jon Embree (ESPN2; 2011 at Hawai’i) and Mike MacIntyre (CBS-SN; 2013, Colorado State in Denver). The ’79 game under Fairbanks was shown tape-delayed that evening on ESPN on Sept. 8, the first college football game on the fledgling network: it was its second day of operation. Neuheisel and MacIntyre won their games; in fact, they’re the only two to win their CU debuts dating back to 1932
LINE: -13.5 Colorado
I’m taking Colorado to not only win their fifth consecutive Rocky Mountain Showdown, but to cover the spread as well. If you are feeling frisky, parlay it with the OVER as the Buffs will put up 40+ points in the altitude.
Score Prediction: Colorado 47 Colorado State 17