College Football Picks: Colorado State Rams vs Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado State vs Colorado
Friday, September 2, 2016, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Sports Authority Field at Mile High – Denver, Colorado
Opening Line: Colorado -7
Current Line: Colorado -8 1/2
Opening Total: 55 1/2
Current Total: 59
Opening Money Line: Colorado -315 / Colorado State +250
Current Money line: Colorado -335 / Colorado State +275

Colorado is an 8.5 point favorite against Colorado State Friday night in Denver.
Colorado is an 8.5 point favorite against Colorado State Friday night in Denver.

The Colorado State Rams and Colorado Buffaloes renew their rivalry Friday night in Denver. The Buffaloes lead the series 63-22-2. Colorado won last year’s Rocky Mountain Showdown 27-24 in overtime. The teams have alternated wins and losses in the last four meetings.

Colorado State went 7-6 last year in the Mountain West under coach Mike Bobo. The Rams lost to fellow MWC team Nevada in the Arizona Bowl. Colorado was 4-9 in the Pac 12 under coach Mike MacIntyre.

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Colorado State averaged 426 yards per game on offense last year including 198 yards per game on the ground and 30 points. The Rams allowed 391 total yards per game including 213 rushing yards and 27 points per game. CSU was -12 in turnovers and had 27 turnovers. The Rams averaged 69 penalty yards per game. Colorado State was 96/204 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 73/197. The Rams forced 24 sacks and allowed 17 this season. CSU was 47/54 scoring in the red zone with 33 touchdowns and opponents were 37/42 with 21 touchdowns.

Colorado State quarterback Nick Stevens threw for 2,679 yards with 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and also had 3 rushing touchdowns. If he falters Faton Bauta spent three seasons as the Georgia back-up quarterback including two under Bobo when he was the offensive coordinator.

Running back Dalyn Dawkins is back after he had 170 carries for 867 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 24 catches for 178 yards and a touchdown. Izzy Matthews is also back after he had 97 carries for 590 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is questionable with an ankle injury.  The Rams must replace star receiver Rashard Higgins who is now with the Cleveland Browns after making 75 catches for 1,062 yards and 8 touchdowns. In fact the top three receivers are gone for the Rams. It isn’t clear who will step up for CSU.

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Colorado averaged 397 yards per game on offense including 241 passing yards and 25 points. The Buffaloes allowed 417 yards per game on defense including 199 rushing games. The Buffs were +1 in turnovers and forced 22 turnovers. Colorado was 90/235 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 96/225. Colorado forced 28 sacks and allowed 41 last season. The Buffaloes were 39/53 scoring in the red zone with 27 touchdowns and opponents were 39/44 with 26 touchdowns.

Quarterback Sefo Liufau is recovering from a foot injury that ended his junior season early. There was some doubt that he would be ready for the regular season but he will start. He threw for 2,418 yards with 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions and rushed for 266 yards and 5 touchdowns. Texas Tech graduate transfer Davis Webb had enrolled at Colorado but transferred to California in May.

Running back Phillip Lindsay had 140 carries for  653 yards and 6 touchdowns, plus 26 catches for 211 yards and a touchdown. True freshman Beau Bisharat could be a star. Receiver Juwann Winfree, a JUCO transfer was supposed to make an impact but he tore his ACL and is lost for the season. Shay Fields and Devin Ross will be the go to receivers.

Colorado State is 11-2-1 ATS in non-conference games, 8-2-1 in September and 1-3-1 on grass. The underdog is 3-0-1 ATS in this series. The Rams are 6-2 ATS when designated the road team in this series.

Colorado is 2-5-1 ATS on grass. The under is 7-1 in this series recently.

This line seems kind of high for a rivalry game especially when Colorado isn’t that great to begin with. I think the Rams have an excellent shot of pulling off the upset but at the very least they cover the spread.

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