The Colorado Buffaloes football team is set to take on their in-state rivals, the Colorado State Rams, this Friday in the 89th annual Rocky Mountain Showdown. Both teams are eager to fight for the Centennial Trophy, but only one will get to take it home. So how will things play out at Sports Authority Field? Here is some insight to help answer that question.
The Rams opened their 2017 campaign with a 58-27 thumping of the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday. CSU looked well prepared and explosive from both sides of the football field, indicating they will be tougher competition than most people expected.
Leading their offensive attack this season is dynamic play-making wideout Michael Gallup, in addition to talented running backs Dalyn Dawkins and Rashaad Boddie. With these offensive weapons, as well as the Buffs’ loss of three of their most talented defensive backs from last season, the Rocky Mountain Showdown looks to be a much more competitive game than it was in 2016.
Furthermore, the Rams also have some talented individuals in the secondary. As a senior, Kevin Nutt is a seasoned cornerback whose technique has improved greatly to match his vertical speed. At safety, Utah transfer and former walk-on, Jordan Fogal has solid instincts and a talent for finding the ball.
The game may be a tough competition, but Colorado has the advantage. They return their talented wide receiving core: seniors Shay Fields, Devin Ross, Bryce Bobo and Kabion Ento, as well as Maryland transfer Juwann Winfree. Phillip Lindsay will lead the ground attack, and he should have his best year yet behind an offensive line that consists of three seniors.
Although the Rams have a much improved secondary, it may be difficult for them to completely account for the many talented receivers on the Buffs roster. Each player brings something different to the table. Likewise, the Buffs are talented on both dimensions of their offensive attack and able to rely on quarterback Steven Montez. It’ll be overwhelming and difficult for the Rams defense to account for all of the Buffs’ weapons effectively.
In the Buffs secondary, junior cornerback Isaiah Oliver seems more than ready to fill the shoes of both Chidobe Awuzie and Ahkello Witherspoon. He is set to become a lockdown corner who can consistently be put on an island against the opposition’s number one wideout.
As a talented receiver for CSU, Gallup is expected to make his fair share of plays and catches. But Oliver might effectively and potentially neutralize him for part of the game. It also would not be surprising if Oliver intercepted a ball during the game, in his first chance to show the country that he’s ready to be one of the best corners in both the Pac-12 and college football.
The question marks surrounding the new starting defensive line for the Buffs should be something that leads the Rams to test this unit early and often. CSU will likely set up the play action pass to the vertical threats down the field in response to Colorado’s defense. This will control the clock and pace of the game. Despite the concerns, the Buffs’ defensive group holds their own and will have an impressive performance to start the season.
Overall, the Buffaloes offense may overpower the Ram’s defense. CSU has made leaps and bounds from last year – not just with talent on the roster, but also internal improvement and development. But, the Buffaloes secondary will be able do a good job and ultimately limit their point total in the end.
Final Score Prediction: Colorado 34, Colorado State 21
The game kicks off Friday, Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. MST
Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Jack Stern at firstname.lastname@example.org.