According to the Wynn in Las Vegas, Colorado has opened as ten point favorites against the Colorado State Rams next Saturday at 11:30 am MT. The Rams and the Buffs will meet in the third game of the year, a game usually schedule as the opener for each program. The two teams will do battle at Sports Authority Stadium at Mile High.
Colorado enters the game 0-2 after a tough loss to California this past weekend in overtime 36-33. The Buffs looked like an offensive juggernaut against a Cal defense that was supposed to be the strength of the team. The Buffs ran an astonishing 82 plays for 582 yards, 474 of which came through the air. The 474 yards from QB Tyler Hansen was a single game Colorado record. Hansen also had three touchdown passes and no interceptions. He now has five touchdown passes for the year against one interception and is second in the Pac 12 with 697 yards passing through two games.
His main target, WR Paul Richardson, just embarrassed the California secondary hauling 11 receptions for 284 yards and two scores. The 284 yards is also Colorado single game record.The Buffs lost the game, though, because of a rash of penalties, going 0-4 scoring touchdowns in the redzone and having a few lapses in the secondary that allowed Cal to have some big plays.
Colorado St. comes into the game starting 2-0 with wins over New Mexico and Northern Colorado. Against Northern Colorado, CSU had 501 total yards of offense while holding the Bears to 216 yards. Colorado State had a very balanced offensive attack running the ball for 242 yards and throwing for 259. UNC only had 89 yards passing including two interceptions. Rams QB Pete Thomas went 28-42 for 259 yards and one score but did throw three interceptions.
The Rams used three running backs with Raymond Carter leading the way with 17 carries for 100 yards and two scores. Derek Good and Chris Nwoke both had nine carries a piece for a combined 134 yards from scrimmage. Colorado State scored touchdowns on four of their first five possessions while Northern Colorado didn't score until the second half. With the loss of LB Mychal Sisson to injury, the Rams will be counting a lot on sophomore LB Mike Orakpo. Orakpo led the Rams with 10 total tackles against UNC.
Against New Mexico, CSU's offense only gained 279 yards. Colorado State was losing 10-7 going into the fourth quarter but scored with 7:29 to play to win 14-10. Pete Thomas was very efficient going 22-26 for 178 and a score. Thomas has done a good job spreading the ball around the first two weeks, completing passes to 13 different Rams. For comparative purposes, only seven Buffs have a reception through the first two games.
Last season, the Buffs beat the Rams 24-3. It was Pete Thomas first start as a true freshman. The Buffs picked Thomas off three times while holding the Rams to just 45 yards rushing. Colorado also sacked CSU three times.
Both teams come into the game with some injury concerns. The Buffs starting LT David Bakhtiari missed last week's game against California with a sprained MCL. His status is unknown for the CSU game. Starting RT Jack Harris is potentially out for a good part of the year with a lower leg injury. Head coach Jon Embree said Harris would be evaluated today but it was either a severe sprained ankle or a broken ankle. If Bakhtiari and Harris can't return, Ryan Dannewitz and Sione Tau will be called on again to anchor the tackle positions.
Colorado State lost their best defensive player against Nothern Colorado. LB Mychal Sisson broke his ankle Saturday on punt return coverage. Also, starting fullback Austin Gillmore went down with a right knee injury on CSU's first offensive play Saturday. Gillmore's backup, Jake Levin, also left the game with a knee injury. Defensive tackle also had a knee injury. Colroado State head coach Steve Fairchild called all three of these injuries very serious after the game.