College Football Rocky Mountain Showdown: Colorado Buffaloes vs Colorado State Rams
Colorado Buffaloes vs Colorado State Rams
Sports Authority Field – Denver, Colorado
Sunday, September 1, 2013, 6:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS Sports Network
Opening Line: Colorado State -2 1/2
Current Line: Colorado State -3 (-105)
Opening Total: 49 1/2
Current Total: 48 1/2
Opening Money Line: CSU -150 / Colorado +130
Current Money Line: CSU -145 / Colorado +125
The Colorado Buffaloes and Colorado St Rams meet for the 85th time Sunday in Denver. Colorado leads the series 61-21-2, and has won 14 of the last 20. However, Colorado State leads the series 7-5 since the series moved to Denver, including a 22-17 win last year.
Colorado went 1-11 last season under coach Jon Embree. The only win was a one point win at Washington St. It was the worst record in the history of Colorado football, a program that has won a national championship in the past. Embree was fired, and replaced by San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre who turned around the football program for the Spartans who were one of the worst teams in college football as recently as 2010. He faces a similar rebuilding effort with Colorado who haven’t had a winning record since 2005.
Colorado State wasn’t much better under first year coach Jim McElwain. The Rams finished 4-8 in the Mountain West. After the season opening win over Colorado, the Rams went on a 6 game losing streak all by double digits. However, to be fair, everyone of those teams had a winning record. The Rams would go 3-2 for the rest of the season with wins over Mountain West bottom feeders Hawaii, UNLV, and New Mexico and losses to Wyoming and Boise St.
MacIntyre has said he will install a version of the pistol offense for the Buffaloes. Colorado was #117 in total offense and #116 in scoring last year out of 124 teams, so any improvement will be welcome. They really can’t get much worse though. MacIntyre’s San Jose State team was #6 in passing nationally last year.
Senior quarterback Jordan Webb was supposed to battle Texas transfer Connor Wood, a junior for the starting job. However, Webb tore his ACL in April and will miss at least half the season. So now the job goes to Wood. Webb threw for 1,434 yards with 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Wood played sparingly last year and threw for 265 yards with a touchdown and 4 picks. Sophomore running back Christian Powell surprised a lot of people last year and was the leading rusher for Colorado. Powell had 158 carries, 691 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with a handful of catches. Tony Jones and Donta Abron will also get some carries. Junior receiver Paul Richardson returns after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. He had 73 catches, for over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first two seasons. Nelson Spruce had 44 catches, 446 yards and 3 touchdowns. Colorado was supposed to have a lot of talent returning on the offensive line. but LT David Bakhtiari left early for the NFL, and LG Alexander Lewis transferred to Nebraska.
Colorado was terrible on defense as well, not surprisingly for a one win team. Colorado gave up at least 30 points to every opponent except Colorado State last year. Senior defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe had 7 sacks last year and is one of the few stars on defense. Senior linebacker Derrick Webb had 88 tackles last year. Cornerback Greg Henderson anchors the secondary.
Colorado State was decent on offense against bad teams, but struggled against good teams. The offense has to be more consistent or another sub-par season could be on the horizon.
Sophomore Conner Smith and junior Garrett Grayson are expected to split time at quarterback again this season. Smith completed 63.5% of his passes for 1,022 yards with 6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Grayson completed 56.5% of his passes for 946 yards with 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, along with a rushing touchdown. Grayson missed the second half of the season with a broken collarbone. Sophomore Donnell Alexander and senior Chris Nwoke will split the carries at running back. Alexander had 117 carries, 587 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 17 catches for 155 yards. Nwoke had 116 carries, 570 yards and 2 scores, along with 10 catches and a touchdown. He was hampered by an early season injury that nagged him all year. Receiver Charles Lovett had 35 catches, 428 yards and 2 touchdowns. Colorado State has two great tight ends in senior Crockett Gilmore (19 catches, 263 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Kivon Cartwright (26 catches, 310 yards, 3 touchdowns). The offensive line returns 4 starters and looks to improve from last year. They did play better in the second half of the season last year.
The CSU defense has the potential to be good this season. The linebackers return a lot of experience and the secondary is young but talented. The defensive line must get better at pass rushing and stopping the run though. Senior Shaquil Barrettcan work as an outside linebacker or defensive end depending on the formation. He had 67 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a pick six. Sophomore linebacker Cory James had 7.5 sacks. Senior corner Shaq Bell anchors the secondary.
Colorado is 7-19 ATS overall, 3-13 on grass, 1-5 in September, and 0-4 in non-conference games. The underdog is 12-5 ATS in the last 17 games in the series. The designated road team is 8-2 ATS in this series recently.
Colorado State is 3-1-1 ATS overall, 4-11 on grass, 1-4-1 in non-conference games, and 0-3-1 in September. The last five CU-CSU games have gone under the total.
These are two terrible teams, but I think Colorado State is slightly better right now. I think MacIntyre and McElwain can build successful programs if given enough time. For now, though Colorado State wins a close low scoring game.
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