Colorado v. Colorado State Preview: “T.I.P.S.” for CU’s attempt to put CSU in its place

 

For the past nine months, Colorado fans have been basking in the glow of the Buffs’ ten-win 2016 campaign.

For the past nine months, the Buff Nation has been looking forward to a 3-0 non-conference start to the 2017 season, setting up a Pac-12 title game re-match with Washington in the conference opener.

And why not?

Games two and three on the 2017 schedule are against FBS bottom-feeder Texas State and FCS middleweight Northern Colorado.

Which left Colorado State as the only non-conference “challenge” for the Buffs, and even that didn’t seem like a real threat.

After all, the last time Colorado played Colorado State, it was a 44-7 demolition. The last time the Rams were on the field, they were giving up 61 points to Idaho (Idaho!) on the Smurf Turf in Boise.

That all changed when Colorado State opened its season with a 58-27 rout of Oregon State. The Rams racked up over 500 yards of total offense against a Beaver team which many prognosticators were penciling in as a bowl team this fall.

Well, at least we know that the Buffs will be taking the Rams seriously …

 

This week’s “T.I.P.S.” for CU v. Colorado State … Friday, 6:00 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Networks

 

T – Talent 

There were only five games in “Week Zero” of the 2017 college football season, so the NCAA isn’t posting statistically relevant rankings just yet.

If there had been a full slate of games, the Colorado State Rams would be entering the 2017 Rocky Mountain Showdown very highly ranked. Other than Stanford, which embarrassed hapless Rice, 62-7, no team had a better statistical day on offense than did CSU.

The Rams posted 525 yards of total offense, with Nick Stevens going 26-for-39 for 334 yards and three touchdowns. The senior quarterback’s favorite target was preseason All-MWC candidate Michael Gallup, who had 11 receptions for 134 yards.

Gallup is a known quantity, and has likely been getting the attention of CU’s premier cornerback, Isaiah Oliver, for much of CU’s Fall Camp. While many eyes will be on the Gallup/Oliver matchup Friday night, the real test for the CU defense might be when red-shirt freshman cornerback Trey Udoffia lines up against CSU’s No. 2 receiver, Olabisi Johnson. Against Oregon State, Johnson had five catches for 66 yards, after collecting 28 receptions for 613 yards in the 2016 season.

On the ground, Colorado State was very successful against Oregon State, posting 191 yards and three touchdowns. Leading the way was a name familiar to Buff fans, Dalyn Dawkins. The senior running back, who finished the 2016 season with four straight 100-yard games, had 67 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against the Beavers.

While it was anticipated that the CSU offense would be potent in 2017, the question mark coming into the season was the defense. The Rams were 81st in scoring defense last season, and were 98th in the nation against the run. That seemed to be a perfect setup for Oregon State and running back Ryan Nall, last seen going for 154 yards and four touchdowns in the 34-24 2016 season finale win over Oregon. Nall did have 115 yards rushing against the Rams, but 75 of those yards came on a touchdown run in the second quarter. Otherwise, Nall was held to a pedestrian 40 yards on 14 carries.

Oregon State’s junior quarterback, Jake Luton, did pass for 304 yards against Colorado State’s defense. Luton, though, missed open receivers early, and finished the day with three interceptions. His pick-six in the third quarter turned a one-possession game into a rout.

In all, the Colorado State defense accumulated five turnovers, holding Oregon State to seven second half points.

Suffice it to say, the Rams will head to Denver Friday with great confidence … with numbers to back it up.

 

I – Intangibles

“Last year’s team, it was an awesome experience,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said of CU’s 2016 season. “But, we go back to square one and we start all over again, from every X and O, from every fundamental. It starts over every year.”

A few days ago, there was fear that the Colorado players would go into the Rocky Mountain Showdown with too much confidence. After all, the Buffs played the perfect game against the Rams a year ago. CU was up 24-0 before CSU posted its first first down of the game, and the Buffs were up 37-0 before the Rams scored a consolation touchdown in the fourth quarter of a 44-7 rout.

Now, it’s safe to say that the Rams have the full attention of the Buff coaches and players.

And up in Ft. Collins?

There is no doubt that the Ram players would rather take the trip down to Boulder after a blowout win rather than a blowout loss, but the question needs to be asked: How much extra energy was put into defeating Oregon State in the opener for their new stadium?

According to the Oregonian, the CSU regents tailgated with fans before the stadium opening. The university arranged a flyover by F-16s prior to the game. An Oregon State administrator walking through the stadium looked at all the special arrangements being made and said out loud, “This is their Super Bowl.”

Can the Rams have enough in the tank to play a Super Bowl two weeks in a row?

“Everyone is going to pat us on the back now,” CSU coach Mike Bobo said after the 58-27 rout of Oregon State. “Everybody is going to tell us how great we are. Everybody is going to tell us how great that moment was. … We’ve got to be mature enough as a football team to understand how we got to this point to win this ball game — by doing the little things every day.”

The Rams will be sky high at the opening kickoff of the 2017 Rocky Mountain Showdown.

It will be up to the Buffs to bring them back down to earth.

 

P – Preparation / Schedule

First, let’s take the September 9th games out of the equation.

A week from Saturday, Colorado will host Texas State in Boulder, while Colorado State returns home to face Abilene Christian.

Those games are not on the radar of either program … it’s all about this Friday.

Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre has spent the past few months telling anyone who would listen that Colorado State gained the upper hand over his Buffs by moving up the Oregon State game. “This year if I would’ve known they were having a week zero game, we would’ve had a zero week game”, said MacIntyre. “I think that gives them an advantage”.

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 … 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.”

History says otherwise, as we have discussed. In “CSU v. OSU – Advantage Buffs?“, there are these stats:

— Historically, Colorado is 16-4 when the Buffs are playing their opener against a team which has already played a game. 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.

— 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.

And … not for nothing. The 2017 Rocky Mountain Showdown will be played on Friday night. The Rams will have only six days to focus their entire attention on the Buffs.

The Buffs have had all of August to focus their attention on the Rams.

 

S – Statistics

The Buffs have yet to take the field of play in 2017. And, at this point, 2016 statistics no longer count.

Colorado State, meanwhile, has some glowing offensive numbers.

The Rams had 525 yards of total offense, scoring 58 points. Quarterback Nick Stevens through for three touchdowns … his eighth straight game with at least two scores, and third straight with at least three.

“The thing I’ve noticed about Nick is he’s making quicker decisions,” MacIntyre said. “He’s getting the ball out of his hand quicker. He’s knowing where he’s going with the ball a bit quicker sometimes. That helps him and helps their offensive line”.

Dating back to last season, Colorado State has scored 37-plus points in seven straight games, averaging 49.3 points per game in those games.

“They are a well-balanced offense,” CU defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. “They run enough pro-style plays, enough spread plays that you have to be ready to defend a lot of different things. It’s a veteran group and they know what they’re doing. They’re playing fast and we have to be ready to play.”

While the CSU offense may be operating on all cylinders, the Ram defense did give up 456 yards of total offense to an Oregon State offense which couldn’t get out of its own way, turning the ball over five times.

“I thought they played well,” CU junior cornerback Isaiah Oliver allowed. “I feel like they’ve gotten a lot better since last year. That’s something we already knew going into the game. It was nothing really surprising to us. We’re still preparing the same way we were going to prepare regardless.”

Prediction … For the past nine months, I worried about how the Buffs would handle early adversity in their 2017 opener.

The 2016 season opened with about as perfect performance as the Buffs have produced in the past decade.

How would the 2017 team react if they didn’t score 24 first quarter points? If the Rams didn’t produce six punts and two turnovers in their eight first half possessions?

As Mike Tyson put it, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.

In three hours on Saturday, the CSU Rams alleviated my fears. If the Buffs are surprised and disconsolate if the Rams score in the first half, that’s on them. If the Buffs are discouraged if they don’t score 31 first half points, that’s on the coaches.

The Buffs know they will be in for a dogfight on Friday night. They know they will score points … they also know they will give up points.

The Rams haven’t been held under four touchdowns since mid-October. The Buffs are, dating back to last December, coming off of two dismal offensive performances.

I have to say I liked what senior safety Abolabi Laguda had to say at Tuesday’s press conference:

“Faces may change but expectations never do,” Laguda said. “Our expectations are high, we’re definitely ready to go. Our coaches are on board and we’re on board with our coaching staff. They’re going to lead and we’re going to follow right behind them. We’re all going to go to war together.”

The line for the game opened with CU an eight-point favorite. It’s down to 5.5, as the nation is showing it believes in the Rams.

The Buffs have been losing respect for nine months. Ranked at the end of last season, the Buffs’ stock has been dropping ever since. Colorado fell out of the Top 25 in the preseason polls; the Pac-12 media put the Buffs back in fourth place in the Pac-12 South.

A CU team which has something to prove?

A CU team with a chip on its shoulder?

That’s just the way we like them …

Colorado 42, Colorado State 31

—–

 

15 Replies to “CU v. CSU – A Preview”

  1. CSU’s big win is not really what it seems. If all you saw was the final score your opinion will be skewed. That game was a 7 point game with 20 minutes to play. OSU simply couldn’t overcome the turnovers and faded late. After actually watching the game I did not see anything indicating that CSU can beat CU without a great deal of help from the Buffs.

    I believe the Buffs win this one by two touchdowns (45-31). CSU will score some points because they do have weapons on offense, but I saw no reason to think that the Rams will be able to keep CU from racking up the yards and points. The only way this doesn’t come to pass is if the Buffs beat themselves.

  2. GO BUFFS

    Can’t wait to see:
    The offense’s game plan
    The offense’s play calling
    The offense’s in-game adjustments

    Wanna be so happy and impressed by this……..

    Year two with Chev…..

    Can’t Wait

    Buffs.

  3. Buffs 42-31. Oregon State was game early, but the altitude exposed their weaknesses on offense and defense. they were out of synch all day long, and worse in the third and fourth quarter when the wheels came off and the fatigue just sapped them out. CSU deserves credit as they really punched them in the face in the second half, and the rest is just ugly history. This aggressive hard-hitting style is typical of the Rams, we should be ready for that, and conditioning will not be an issue. we’ll see!

  4. CU 38 CSU 31 – Like most I’m not worried about the offense but the defense makes me nervous. I’m excited to watch Javier Edwards and hope he pancakes Stevens early in the game.

    Can’t believe the game is tomorrow…I’m already getting nervous! Don’t forget to wear black!

    GO BUFFS!

  5. This week the Denver media is starting to talk about how great CSU is again. If CSU wins this will go on for another year. I don’t mind so much the CSU fans talking it up because, that is what fans are supposed to do. I just get sick of the Denver media bias against the Buffs. Hopefully, CU pulls away in the second half with a solid win.

    If the defense holds the Lambs under 30 points they will win by two scores. My prediction is 38 CU, 27 CSU.

    – MajorBuff

  6. Okay, I’ll be the pessimist. CU 38 CSU 42. Given the thin depth at several critical positions (ILB, CB, OL). I’m guessing 6-6 for the season.

  7. 41-14 CU. forget the noise justifying CU dropping so far out of the top 25. I like the various matchups and am hopeful for a CU dominated game. I am going on record saying I do not want Oliver returning punts or kicks of any kind. Maybe in the 4th quarter of a close game. Maybe.

  8. I have CU at 9-3 for the regular season and 1-0 in their bowl game. To do that they need to go 3-0 non-conference.

    Prediction ….. A solid CU victory Friday, even after CSU’s scoring romp over the OSU Beavers. First up I think the Buffs hang 38 on the Rams with 5 TD’s and a FG; IMO our Offense has more options than their Defense can successfully handle. (I thought the CSU O handled themselves well; the D more a ? of OSU issues) Conversely, I think we are going to be pleasantly surprised by the Buff’s overall Defense and especially our Red Zone D. (Both Fan Groups will leave the stadium Friday night, knowing that CU was the better team!)

    FINAL SCORE: CU 38 – CSU 17

  9. My prediction: both offenses struggle a bit more than expected. CSU’s, because the Buffs are simply a better team than the Beavers, and because Oliver will shutdown their #1. CU, because Montez still might not be ready to be Sefo.

    CU 27 CSU 17

  10. Buffs win by at least 10. Lammies can’t cover CU’s big and fast receivers and then Phil will run over, around and through them.

  11. 42-41? Wow Stuart! Major confidence by you.

    Laying the groundwork

    “This year if I would’ve known they were having a week zero game, we would’ve had a zero week game”, said MacIntyre

    In three hours on Saturday, the CSU Rams alleviated my fears. If the Buffs are surprised and disconsolate if the Rams score in the first half, that’s on them. If the Buffs are discouraged if they don’t score 31 first half points, that’s on the coaches….. Correctomundo Stuart. Remember Hawaii……. Coaches…

    I am a believer in the Hype until I see otherwise. I am hoping not to see otherwise.

    I am not convinced the Oline is the best in a long while. There are weaknesses at left guard and center.

    Ento 6’3 and Winfree 6’3 need to be on the field vs 5’10 y receiver.

    Actually feel good about the Dline. They are not freshman period.

    The linebackers also will surprise even with freahman backups. There is natual talent there and the new defensive coaches are pretty damn good.

    Now that DB Crew. Safeties are experienced and full of attitude. Cornerback? Even with the super hype Oliver is getting a little nervousness exists. And a back up soph who has played how much at this level????

    And on the other side? 2 RSF’s Wow. Even the nickel back #2 is an RSF.

    Buffs by 17………Buff offense is real…………..Buffs defense grows during the game……………Buff special teams in all phases are the best in 10 years……………..Buff coaching is the wild card

    Buffs.

    Note: As stated previously the Ramalamadingdong’s DC was the DC in 2014 (linebacker coach the last 2 years) and owned lindgren. Hopefully the additional brainpower added by Chiv will be enough to overcome.

  12. CU 35 CSU 31 is my prediction.

    I could see the score flip if CU has some defensive lapses. I am a bit concerned with having a cornerback starting his first game against a hot QB along with the D line newcomers. But going to trust in the Buffs!

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