Colorado State v. Oregon State … Advantage for Buffs or Rams?

The 2017 college football season gets underway August 26th, with five games being played in “Week Zero”, the week before most teams get underway.

The Oregon State at Colorado State game will be the first game of the NCAA season, kicking off at 12:30 p.m., MT (CBS Sports Networks). The game will be played before a sellout crowd in the Rams’ new home stadium, and will be of special interest to Buff fans. Colorado will take on Colorado State in Denver on September 1st, then meet Oregon State in Corvallis on October 14th.

Of late, the conversation has turned to whether the Rams or the Buffs will have an advantage when the teams meet in Denver.

Does Colorado State have an edge, getting first game jitters out of the way before facing Colorado, or will the Buffs have the advantage, getting to watch the Rams play a game before taking on their in-state rival?

Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre has indicated that he believes the Rams have the advantage.

“I’m concerned that CSU plays OSU before us,” Buffs head coach Mike MacIntyre told “I wish I would have known that a long time ago, we would have played a ‘zero-week’ game.”

MacIntyre’s biggest concern is that the Rams will have “game-speed” experience under their belts. Throw in the fact that it will be CU’s season opener in front of a large crowd at a neutral stadium and it’s something MacIntyre admits is a concern.

“That gives them a big advantage, at least the beginning of the game for sure,” MacIntyre said. “We’re going to have to find a way get the tempo of the game. We’ll probably scrimmage a little more than we would have in the past to try to get that there. Hopefully we’ll be able to come out of the gates fast, but that gives them a huge advantage, to me. I’m concerned about that.”

Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo has also weighed in on the Buffs and Rams not facing one another in game one.

“There’s a couple pluses,” Bobo said. “One, you’re going to play in a big-time environment, opening the new stadium. It’s  going to be a packed house and there’s going to be pressure from opening your new stadium and playing well. Our guys and our young guys are going to feel that pressure. There’s obviously going to be pressure in Game 2 when you’re playing your big rival Rocky Mountain Showdown … You can’t duplicate that kind of pressure.”

Case closed? After all, both coaches apparently see an advantage for Colorado State.

Not so fast.

Let’s make an allowance here that much of what you just read is coach-speak.

What did you expect them to say? … Something like this:

Mike MacIntyre: “I’m giddy that the Rams don’t get a month to prepare for their ‘Super Bowl’ game against us”.

Mike Bobo: “It sucks that we have to play a Pac-12 team in our opener, then only get six days to prepare for the Buffs”.

That type of sound-bite is just not going to happen.

For starters, it is a huge advantage for Colorado that – for a change – Colorado State doesn’t get to spend Fall Camp (not to mention a good chunk of the off-season) preparing for the Buffs, when a win can make their whole season.

As one CU offensive assistant said, “They’ll have to play all their cards in that game. They’re not going to be able to hide anything against Oregon State. We’ll get a good look at what they have.”

Even CSU coach Bobo had to admit that CU will have an advantage in having game tape on the Rams. “You have to show some cards,” Bobo allowed. “Obviously they’ve got tape of us the last two years and they know kind of what I do as an offensive coordinator, what we do defensively. But you’ve got a new team every year so your identity might be a little bit different. They’ll kind of have an idea of who we are, what we’re trying to do offensively, defensively, special teams, where we don’t have any idea with them.”

Still not convinced?

Let the numbers tell the tale.

Historically, Colorado is 16-4 when the Buffs are playing their opener against a team which has already played a game (thanks to Ron Ward for researching this nugget). Most of those games were over 50 years ago, but CU is 4-1 in such games since 1988, including a 2-1 record against Colorado State.

In fact, since 1936, Colorado has lost only once in game scenario that they will be facing September 1st – playing an opener against a team with a game under its belt, posting a 9-1 record.

And even that one loss, back in 2002, was anomalous. Take a look:

In 2002, Colorado State upset Colorado, 19-14, a week after opening the season with a road win over Virginia.

The 2002 season turned out to be a special one for the Rams:

— The win over the Buffs represents the last victory for the Rams over a ranked team (Colorado State is 0-19 … yes, 0-19 … against ranked teams since 2002);

— The Rams went on to win the Mountain West Conference title that season … and haven’t won a conference title since; and

— The Rams spent 11 weeks in the Associated Press poll in 2002 … and have spent four weeks total in the poll over in the 15 seasons since.

So … the 2002 CSU team which broke the trend near 70-year trend of the Buffs handling a team with a game under its belt was a pretty good one.

Anyone believe the 2017 CSU Rams will post ten wins? Spend 11 weeks in the AP poll? Win the Mountain West conference title?

Me, neither.

What, then, about the result of the Colorado State/Oregon State game? How will the outcome of that contest affect the Rocky Mountain Showdown six days later?

I can make a case for either a Ram or Beaver victory helping the Buffs:

— If Colorado State wins (and the Rams are 3.5-point favorites), the Rams will be energized … but the Buffs will also take them seriously. Colorado dominated Colorado State last September, racing out to 21-0 first quarter lead on its way to a 44-7 rout. There is always the danger that the Buff players will take the Rams too lightly. That won’t happen if Colorado State defeats Oregon State; or

— If Oregon State wins, it will be a blow to confidence of the Ram players, and a shock to the collective ego of the Ram Nation. The sellout crowd christening the new Ram stadium will be disheartened with the loss, and the Ram Nation will be a bit quieter (and smaller) in Denver. The reality of a 1-3 start (the Rams will head to Tuscaloosa to face No. 1 Alabama for game four) will begin to set in as the majority of the college football world prepares for their openers.

The Rams may be a better team than the one the Buffs annihilated, 44-7, last year … but they are not that much better.

Colorado holds a commanding 64-22-2 overall lead in the series. The Buffs have gone 7-3 against the Rams over the past decade, a ten-year span which included some of the worst teams in Colorado history.

The Buffs shouldn’t need an advantage when facing the Rams.

But, in 2017, the Buffs get one … in having Colorado State open its season against Oregon State.


2 Replies to “CSU v. OSU – Advantage Buffs?”

  1. Not to get to far off of the subject…….. from what pictures I have seen, CSU sure did a nice job with their new stadium. It has just got to really help their program going forward.

    OSU has a good coach and is rebuilding although I think they are still farther away from getting to the level that CU was entering last year. Should be a fun game to watch.

    I hope CSU wins then goes into Mile High the next week all rip roaring and snortin or at least as much snot as a Ram can produce, and the Buffs then just methodically wipe that viscous stuff off the Ram’s collective faces just as they did last year.

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