We have finally reached the first week of a new college football season and the anticipation couldn’t be any higher for the University of Colorado Buffaloes. They’ll be starting their season off against their in-state rival the Colorado State Rams in the final edition of the Rocky Mountain Showdown Friday at Broncos Stadium.
As always, the excitement is a mile-high. Here are a few thoughts from our sports staff writers to get you ready:
Jack Carlough, Head Sports Editor
Score Prediction: Colorado 42, Colorado State 20
There are a lot of question marks surrounding this Buffaloes team, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
First-year head coach Mel Tucker is a question mark that we like. Tucker comes to CU from the highly competitive Southeastern Conference where rivalry games are not taken lightly. The Rocky Mountain Showdown will be no exception, even with the Buffs set to take on a struggling CSU team that has lost the past four encounters.
Leading the charge for Colorado will be fifth-year senior quarterback Steven Montez playing in his third showdown. Last season saw what was arguably Montez’s best game of the year against CSU. He threw 338 yards and 4 touchdowns, one of which was an 89-yard receiving touchdown to junior wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. Montez crushed CSU last year, and much of the same is expected this time around.
The quarterback certainly has the receiving corps, but the run game will also be important for a balanced offense. And that leads to another question mark: sophomore tailback Alex Fontenot who finds himself atop the Buffs’ depth chart at running back. Fontenot played in just three games in 2018 but has impressed throughout spring and fall camp. Fontenot will be key in taking some of the pressure off the air attack against Colorado State.
CSU’s junior quarterback Collin Hill threw for 1,099 yards in the Rams final four games (all losses) and should keep the game somewhat competitive. He’ll be handing the ball off to tailbacks’ Marcus McElroy, a junior, and Marvin Kinsey Jr., a senior. The Rams rushed for just 103 yards per game last year, but expect a much-improved ground attack in 2019.
“Montez crushed CSU last year, and much of the same is expected this time around.”
As for the defensive side of things, let’s just say this game has the potential to be high-scoring. Senior defensive end Mustafa Johnson and junior inside linebacker Nate Landman should keep the Rams run game at ease, but the Buffs’ secondary will be under pressure. CSU held its opponent to under 30 points just twice last season. Look out for Rams senior defensive end Jalen Bates and sophomore linebacker Dequan Jackson to challenge the Buffs’ offense.
All in all, the final Rocky Mountain Showdown features two high-powered offenses. But, with a fifth-year quarterback and a Heisman hopeful wide receiver in Shenault Jr., the Buffs’ weapons will be too much for CSU to handle.
Griffin Rucker, Sports Writer
Score Prediction: Colorado 45, Colorado State 17
It’s never easy to predict games, especially for the first game of the season where both teams enter the contest with uncertainty surrounding numerous positions, but that’s what makes this fun! Per usual, the Buffs are favored to beat their in-state rivals by a healthy margin, but there’s one major concern for CU in their quest to win the final showdown.
After allowing 234.7 passing yards per game in 2018, the Buffs have their work cut out for them as they attempt to improve their passing defense with a secondary unit comprised of mostly new and young players. Sure, the Rams receiver depth chart isn’t exactly terrifying now that Preston Williams has moved on to the NFL, but they are bringing back an experienced receiving corps and have a competent quarterback in Collin Hill.
“The Buffs have their work cut out for them as they attempt to improve their passing defense with a secondary unit comprised of mostly new and young players.”
With all that said, it’s still undeniable that CU has a significant advantage when it comes to talent and it’s hard for me to see them losing to a team they’ve dominated the past four seasons.
Adam Bender, Sports Writer
Score Prediction: Colorado 45, Colorado State 24
More often than not, the Rocky Mountain Showdown has been a high-scoring affair. This trend will continue in 2019, the question is: which team do you trust to get the job done defensively? The Rams will need multiple sophomores to take on an expanded role on defense. There are a handful of second-year players who will need a strong play if the Rams’ defense has a chance against Colorado’s air attack. The Rams relied on their offense in 2018 to catch up playing from behind. If that’s the case come Aug. 30, let’s just say CSU will need everything they have to keep pace with the many talented Colorado receivers. Among them are junior Laviska Shenault Jr., junior K.D. Nixon and sophomore Maurice Bell, not to mention their senior quarterback Steven Montez.
Colorado head coach Mel Tucker has had his hand in the defense since arriving in Boulder and, based on what he was able to do at Georgia, I trust him to have his guys ready to compete on the defensive side of the ball.
The one area where the Buffs will be forced to play multiple freshmen is in the secondary. If the Rams can get off to a fast start and take advantage of some one-on-one matchups on the back end, they may have a chance to keep pace with CU’s offense.
“Colorado head coach Mel Tucker has had his hand in the defense since arriving in Boulder.”
Expect a high-scoring affair in the first half, as both teams will still be shaking off the rust, but Colorado’s defense will be the difference-maker in the game. With a few second-half adjustments and ultimately limiting CSU’s aerial attack in the third and fourth quarters, the Buffs should win by a few scores.
Max Troderman, Assistant Sports Editor
Score Prediction: Colorado 38, Colorado State 17
I agree with what my fellow writers have to say, for the most part. The statistics say that the Buffaloes will probably win, they have the talent on both the defensive and offensive side of the ball and the recent history of the game also bodes well for them.
However, this year is the last edition of the Rocky Mountain Showdown at Mile High Stadium, perhaps CSU will be determined to finish this rivalry series with a win. While the odds are in favor of CU, the Buffs also have all the pressure on them. With a new head coach and a dismal finish to last season, a loss in this opening game could be a bad omen for the coming season.
“Perhaps CSU will be determined to finish this rivalry series with a win.”
That being said, if CU manages to not underestimate their opponent and can show up prepared to play with a clear head, the Buffs should win this game quite handily.
Contact CU Independent Head Sports Editor Jack Carlough at email@example.com.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Max Troderman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Adam Bender at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @adamwbender.
Contact CU Independent Sports Staff Writer Griffin Rucker at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GriffinRucker.