College Football Rocky Mountain Showdown: Colorado State Rams vs Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado State Rams vs Colorado Buffaloes
Sports Authority Field – Denver, Colorado
Friday, August 29, 2014, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox Sports 1
Opening Line: Colorado -3 1/2
Current Line: Colorado -3
Opening Total: 56
Current Total: 60
Opening Money Line: Colorado -150 / Colorado State +130
Current Money Line: Colorado -145 / Colorado State +125

Colorado and Colorado State meet for the 86th time Friday night in Denver. The Buffaloes are 3 point favorites.
Colorado and Colorado State meet for the 86th time Friday night in Denver. The Buffaloes are 3 point favorites.

The Colorado State Rams and Colorado Buffaloes meet for the 86th time on the gridiron Friday night in Denver. Colorado leads the series  62-21-2. The Buffaloes have won 3 of the last 4 games in the series including a 41-27 win last year also in Denver. The two teams have played for the Centennial Cup since 1986.

Colorado State is coached by Jim McElwain, now in his third year with the Rams. Colorado State went 8-6 last year despite a 1-3 start. The Rams qualified for a bowl for the first time since 2008 and upset Washington State 48-45 in the New Mexico Bowl. CSU averaged 266 passing and 204 rushing yards per game last year. On defense, the Rams allowed 276 passing yards and 141 rushing yards. CSU outscored opponents 36-30 last season. The Rams have 12 starters back including 5 on offense.

Colorado is coached by Mike MacIntyre in his second year as coach for the Buffaloes. Colorado went 4-8 in 2013. Colorado averaged 249 passing and 121 rushing yards per game on offense. The Buffaloes allowed 260 passing yards and 209 rushing yards per game. Colorado was outscored 38-25 last season. Sixteen starters are back for the Buffaloes in 2014.

Quarterback Garrett Grayson returns after setting the CSU single season passing yardage record. He threw for 3,696 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and rushed for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Rams must replace leading rusher Kapri Bibbs who had 281 carries for 1,741 yards and 31 touchdowns, plus 8 catches. Grayson is the leading returning rusher, but former Alabama running back Dee Hart was added to the roster earlier this month. He has already graduated and has two years of eligibility left. Jasen Oden and Bryce Peters will also get some carries.

Five of the top six receivers return for Colorado State, with the exception of tight end Crockett Gilmore who is now with the Baltimore Ravens. Rashard Higgins had 68 catches for 837 yards and six touchdowns. Joe Hansley had 52 catches for 613 yards and a touchdown. Kivon Cartwright, Charles Lovett, and Jordon Vaden are also back and will receive a lot of targets. Cartwright only had 27 catches but averaged 17 yards per reception and had 6 touchdowns.

The defense struggled last season and must replace the entire line plus linebacker Shaquil Barrett who led the team in sacks with 12. Linebackers Max Morgan and Aaron Davis do return and both are very solid.

Colorado quarterback Sefo Liufau played in 8 games as a freshman last season, as he split time with Connor Wood. However, Wood has graduated. Liufau threw for 1,779 yards with 12 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He will have to be more consistent as the full time starter in 2014.

The top two rushers are back for Colorado. Christian Powell had 147 carries for 562 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 8 catches. Michael Adkins II had 103 carries for 535 yards and 6 touchdowns, plus 11 catches for 127 yards and a touchdown. The offensive line returns three starters to block for the running backs and protect Liufau.

The Buffaloes must replace receiver Paul Richardson, by far their top offensive threat last year. Richardson had 83 catches for 1,343 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is now with the Seattle Seahawks. Nelson Spruce will be the go-to receiver after making 55 catches for 650 yards and 4 touchdowns. D.D. Goodson and redshirt freshman Bryce Bobo will also get a lot of targets.

Colorado really struggled against the run last year, but they also didn’t force many sacks or turnovers. Eight starters are back, but they need to play much better or the Buffaloes will struggle again.

Colorado State 5-0 ATS in non-conference games, and 4-1 overall. The underdog is 13-5 ATS in this series recently. The designated road team is 5-1 ATS in the series. The Rams are 5-2 ATS when Colorado is the designated home team, and 2-5 overall in the series.

Colorado is 4-1 ATS overall and on grass. The under is 5-1 in this series recently, and 4-1 when Colorado is the designated home team.

Colorado is a 3 point favorite but I think that is more on reputation of being in the Pac 12 against a Mountain West team. The Rams lost a lot of players at the skill positions but still have Grayson, the best athlete on the field for either team. I like Colorado State to pull off the mild upset in a relatively high scoring game.

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