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The Rocky Mountain Showdown’s Impact on the Buffaloes Season

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How much will it matter?

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado State is good.

This is the first of a few “hot takes” in the article, so if you’re already incensed, just hold on.

Colorado State is good. I had the chance to go to their Week 0 game against Oregon State last Saturday to see them first hand. Now, I caution against taking too much away from that game on either side. Oregon State looked slow, unprepared for the altitude, and tired by halftime. They were breaking in a new QB and had to throw a lot in the second half. But if there’s one thing you can safely take away from that game, it’s that CSU’s offense is explosive. Their offensive line is solid as always, their running backs are all good in their own ways (they will play four throughout the year), and Nick Stevens knows what he’s doing at QB. Bottom line, based on what I saw last week and how they ended the year last year, they are going to score some points.

Colorado is good.

We all know this. CU lost a ton of senior leadership, but thanks to the rebuilding efforts of Mike MacIntyre, they are replaced by a ton of senior leadership. Phillip Lindsay, Jeromey Irwin, Afolabi Laguda, George Frazier, all of these guys put fire in your gut and hold the team accountable. The defense will have to feel each other out for the first few weeks, but that offense will be hitting all year long. Steven Montez has weapons around him that would make The Terminator jealous, and he’s behind one of the best offensive lines in years. CU will put up points on everybody, and the defense has the talent to work.

So, here we are. Colorado State is good. Colorado is good. What do we do with this?

It’s been so long since both teams in the Rocky Mountain Showdown have been at this level. You have to go back to the early 2000s to find games like this. CSU just beat a P5 team to open the year (yes, they still count) and CU is coming off of a ten win season. Both teams have high expectations for this next season and they want to start the year off right.

But I’m here to say that the Rocky Mountain Showdown result doesn’t change much.

If CSU loses, they can still win their division in the Mountain West and challenge for a possible NY6 bowl. Sure, their resume takes a slight hit, but with 10 wins at the end of the year (possible) and wins over BSU and Wyoming? That’s still a great season. Losing to a good P5 team in the non-conference doesn’t do much to impede your goals.

If CU loses, they can still compete in the Pac-12 South. Sure, it’s not ideal, but it doesn’t affect conference standings and given the circumstances of the game, it’s understandable. The Buffs should still start 2-1, at least, and then welcome Washington in to Boulder. They will continue to improve as the season goes on, when the new staff and team gel together. But, when they play a neutral site game against a team that lives for the game and they’re a week behind? A loss could happen, but it’s not the end of the world, or even the end of the season.

I look back to Oklahoma - Houston last year. Houston shocked the world and beat the Sooners to start the year. They rocketed up the rankings. Was Oklahoma’s season ruined? They were an outside contender for the Playoff given their loss to OSU and Washington’s insane run throughout the season. They won the Big 12, won 10 games, and beat Auburn in a New Year’s Six bowl. A successful season by any measure. Now, I’m not saying that CU is Oklahoma or that CSU is Houston, but it’s a similar situation. This is a good P5 team playing a good G5 team. Simple as that. Both teams will be just fine.