Note … Previews for CU’s opponents will be posted each week leading up to the start of Fall Camp …

2019 Game One – Colorado v. CSU – August 30, 2019 – Denver 

Related … Daily Camera CSU preview … 

From the Daily Camera … Although Colorado State hasn’t been able to nail down a conference championship in nearly two decades, playing in bowl games had become an annual routine for the Rams – until last year.

The 2018 season got off to a rocky start and never really improved as the Rams finished 3-9 overall, 2-6 in the Mountain West Conference.

Beginning with the Rams, will take a look at each of Colorado’s opponents over the next 12 days. CU will open the season on Aug. 30 in Denver against the Rams, who had made five consecutive bowl appearances before last year.

Heading into head coach Mike Bobo’s fifth season in Fort Collins, the Rams are coming off their worst season since 2012. Bobo is determined to get back on track.

“When you don’t make (the postseason) and you go 3-9 and you’re sitting at home, there’s a ton of time to reflect,” Bobo told The Denver Post this spring. “I didn’t want to put a Band-Aid on anything. I wanted to go back to ground zero, like it was your first year at the program, setting the standard for every single thing we’re going to do. Because I want to build a consistent winner. I don’t want to build a winner that’s going to be a Band-Aid, that doesn’t have the right foundations. That doesn’t make sense. We weren’t going to blow everything up, but we were going to make sure everybody knew what they were supposed to do in every phase of this program. And that was going to come from me.”

Continue reading story here

Last game between the two schoolsAugust 31, 2018 … Colorado 45, Colorado State 13

Colorado scored on its first three possessions of the game, never looking back in a 45-13 rout of Colorado State in Denver. Steven Montez was almost perfect on the night, completing 22-of-25 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns as the Buffs won the Rocky Mountain Showdown for the fourth straight time.

In rolling up 596 yards of total offense, there were many heroes for the Buff offense. Sophomore wide receiver Laviska Shenault set Rocky Mountain Showdown records, both with his 11 receptions and his 211 yards receiving. Virginia Tech graduate transfer running back Travon McMillian had 103 yards rushing (equaling the total rushing yards for CSU on the night) on only ten carries. K.D. Nixon also hit triple digits, with six receptions for 112 yards, highlighted by a 46-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.

How big a night was it for the Buff offense? For the first time in school history, the Buffs had a 300-yard passer (Montez; 338), a 200-yard receiver (Shenault; 211) and a 100-yard rusher (McMillian; 103) in the same game.

Continue reading game story here

Essay for the game, “Coming Out Party, can be found here

Last four games of the Rocky Mountain Showdown: 

— 2015 – Colorado 27, Colorado State 24, OT … “A Matter of Trust”

— 2016 – Colorado 44, Colorado State 7 … “Welcome to the Fight”

— 2017 – Colorado 17, Colorado State 3 … “We’ll Correct It. We’ll Move On”

— 2018 – Colorado 45, Colorado State 13 … “Coming Out Party”

2018 Colorado State results – 3-9 (2-6 in Mountain West play)

– 2018 Colorado State National Rankings (Offense)

— Scoring – 107th … 22.8 points per game  (Colorado scoring defense – 70th … 27.3 points per game)

— Rushing – 123rd … 105.6 yards per game   (Colorado rushing defense – 44th … 145.6 yards per game)

— Passing – 13th … 304.9 yards per game   (Colorado passing defense – 74th … 234.7 yards per game)

— Total – 59th … 410.5 yards per game  (Colorado total defense – 52nd … 380.3 yards per game)

– 2018 Colorado State National Rankings (Defense)

— Scoring – 117th … 36.8 points per game  (Colorado scoring offense – 79th … 27.1 points per game)

— Rushing – 113th … 219.5 yards per game (Colorado rushing offense – 99th … 143.0 yards per game)

— Passing – 68th … 232.4 yards per game (Colorado passing offense – 45th … 249.6 yards per game)

— Total – 111th … 451.9 yards per game  (Colorado total offense – 74th … 392.6 yards per game)

Colorado State storylines … 

– Losing streaks in Boulder and Ft. Collins …

Earlier this spring, I asked Lance Carl if there would be a hangover for the Buffs to start the 2019 season, coming into the fall campaign on a seven-game losing streak. Lance didn’t think so:

No. There are no lingering effects from that season. I can’t recall Mel mentioning that at all. I think everything that Mel and the new coaching staff is doing is forward thinking. ‘What can we do next week to get better? What can we do next month to get better? What’s our plan for spring ball going to be?’ There is nothing related to the 5-7 team from 2018 because that has nothing to do with him.

Meanwhile, up in Ft. Collins, the Rams will enter the 2019 season on five-game losing streak … but no change at the top.

Head coach Mike Bobo does have two new assistant coaches – Nick Jones, who comes over from Air Force to work with tight ends and special teams, and former Buff Anthony Perkins, who will be coaching the Ram cornerbacks – but most of the coaching staff remains in tact.

In his first three seasons at CSU, Bobo posted three straight 7-6 seasons. Last year, however, the Rams slipped to 3-9. After beating New Mexico and San Jose State in mid-October, the Rams lost five straight. While CSU did stay close to No. 23 Utah State (29-24) in mid-November, the average score in those five losses to end the 2018 season was 39-20.

Overall, Mike Bobo is 24-27 at Colorado State, with 17 of those 24 wins coming either against FCS teams or teams which finished the season with three wins or less. The combined record of CSU’s three victims in 2018 was 6-30.

Perhaps it is not a surprise that Mike Bobo, like Mike MacIntyre last fall, is on the list of coaches on the “Hot Seat” this fall.

Players make plays

Collin Hill, a starter at quarterback in seven games over the past three seasons (1,387 yards passing in 2018, with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions), is clearly the leader to win the starting job. The 6-foot-5, 214-pound junior-to-be took every snap with the No. 1 offense in the CSU Spring game, which was played in the Rams’ 60-yard indoor facility on March 14th due to a spring blizzard.

“Collin, he has performed at a better level right now,” Bobo told the Coloradoan. “Collin will be No. 1 on the depth chart.”

The Rams played with only one scholarship running back this spring, Marcus McElroy. The junior had 219 yards rushing last year, and will do battle this fall with senior Marvin Kinsey, who had 256 yards rushing last fall (CSU’s leading rusher in 2018 was Izzy Matthews, who led the Rams with 717 rushing yards in 2018).

CSU was 123rd in the nation rushing last year, and, with only two returning starters along the line, is not likely to be a rushing power in 2019, despite Mike Bobo’s hope to emphasize the rushing game. “I’m pleased with the running game,” Bobo said. “I feel like we’re doing a better job of being tied together in the run game.”

If the Rams will be successful on offense, it will again rely upon the passing game. Gone are Preston Williams and Olabisi Johnson, leaving Warren Jackson (32 receptions, 405 yards, four touchdowns) to pick up the slack. Auburn transfer Nate Craig-Myers is the latest transfer Bobo is bringing it to try and make an impact in the CSU receiving corps.

The Colorado State defense, which ranked 117th in scoring defense (36.8 points per game), and 111th in total defense (451.9 yards per game) … shouldn’t be much better in 2019.

In the CSU post-spring depth chart, which (like CU’s) will be supplemented this fall with some returning injured players, is currently full of holes. Currently, only three returning starters on the Ram defense have double-digit starts in their careers. As many as five players making their first career starts against Colorado in August, with four of the top six tacklers gone.

How the Buffs fit into the Rams’ 2019 schedule

Colorado has a four-game winning streak against Colorado State, but the Buffs have had an advantage in three of four of those games, an advantage the Buffs won’t have this August .

In 2015, Colorado played the Rams in Game Three of the season, while the last two years, Colorado State has chosen to play a “Week Zero” game, moving up a game from elsewhere in the schedule into late August, the week before the Rocky Mountain Showdown.

If you have been with CU at the Game over the years, you know that a statistic I like to throw around is how the Buffs have only lost to the Rams once since the series resumed in 1983 when the game is other than the first game of the season (the 2006 debacle against Montana State). That record only improved in 2015, 2017 and 2018, when the game was not the opener for both teams.

In 2019, unless one of the teams makes a surprise move to a Week Zero game (very unlikely at this point, as schedules have been released), the Buffs and Rams will meet in a season opener for both teams.

That being said, CU enjoys a 66-22-2 all-time advantage in the series, so it really shouldn’t matter when on the calendar the two teams play …

Bottom Line

Last summer, I opened my CSU game preview with the following: “Scary as it is to say, this is about the most confident Buff fans should feel about a Rocky Mountain Showdown in some time.”

Even though the Rams were coming off of three-consecutive 7-6 seasons, and the Buffs were coming off a 5-7 campaign, the stars seemed aligned for a Buff victory.

The result?

The Buffs scored on their first three possessions of the game, never looking back on their way to a 45-13 rout.

Now, Colorado State comes into the 2019 Rocky Mountain Showdown with very little in the way of momentum.

The Rams finished the 2018 season on a losing streak, falling in their final five games. They will take the field in Denver having lost the last four games in their rivalry against the Buffs.

Mike Bobo, entering his fifth season in Ft. Collins, is on the hot seat.

Everything seems to be working against the Rams this year.

Which gives me pause.

The CSU coaching staff will be pulling out all of the stops to try and start what might be Mike Bobo’s last season in Ft. Collins. It’s hard to quantify how much the Rams’ coaches, players and fans will want to break their four-game losing streak to the Buffs.

Oh, and this will be the last game in the series (probably ever) to be played in Denver.

You think the Rams will want this game?

There is no way the Buffs should lose in Mel Tucker’s opener. The team has a new attitude, a new energy, and a new optimism.

We’ll see how it plays out …


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