Posted: 5:22 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013
By Jacob Schildgen
The Rams are off from practice today and tomorrow to rest up and prep for the beginning of classes tomorrow, but Tuesday they will be back on the practice field gearing up for the season opener against Colorado. The last time Colorado State had a winning season and reached a bowl game was in 2008 under former coach Steve Fairchild. After winning three of their last five games in 2012, the Rams hope to keep that momentum going into a difficult 2013 slate.
Colorado hired the right guy for the job in Mike MacIntyre, but the program is still in shambles after a tumultuous offseason. MacIntyre is a good coach and has beat Colorado State twice in the past two years, but he does not have the pieces in place yet to turn the program around. The Rams should handle the Buffs offense as long as they can keep wide receiver Paul Richardson in check. Offensively, the Rams may struggle running the ball against a defensive line led by senior Chidera Uzo-Diribe, but expect a big game for Crockett Gillmore against a young linebacking corps.
This is my most intriguing Rams match up of the season. Tulsa is coming off an impressive 11-3 season including a stomping of Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl, but they only return three starters on the defensive side of the ball. Coach Bill Blakenship has shown his ability to restock the cupboard before, but it remains to be seen if he can do so this season. If the Rams can put pressure on quarterback Cody Green and establish an effective running game on offense, they will be in a position to win the game late.
Colorado State lost against FCS foe North Dakota State in 2012, but do not expect a similar effort against another legitimate FCS threat in Cal Poly. The Rams should take this one.
Back-to-back National Champions, home opener at Bryant-Denny Stadium, a pre-season number one ranking, what more is there to say?
When Colorado State and UTEP last played in 2011, UTEP handled the Rams fairly easily. Now the Rams look to turn the table on a Miners team led by new coach Sean Kugler. The Miners gave up 200 yards a game on the ground and it does not look like that will improve with the loss of seven starters on defense. This bodes well for Rams running backs Chris Nwoke and Donnell Alexander.
The Spartans have beaten the Rams two seasons in a row, and last year's match up was not very close. Gone is head coach Mike MacIntyre, but remaining is NFL prospect David Fales and his favorite targets Noel Grisgby, Jabari Carr, and Chandler Jones. The trio hauled in 365 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Rams in their 2012 game. They probably will not have that kind of production in this year's game, but they are still too much for this Rams' defense.
Colorado State has not held the Bronze Boot since the 2008 season. For Ram fans, it has been a long and demoralizing four years watching the Cowboys run off the field with the Boot in hand. The Rams still lead the all-time series, but it is not likely they will regain the boot this season. Dual-threat Junior quarterback Brett Smith had five touchdowns against the Rams a year ago and has most of his weapons back for the 2013 season. This game will be closer than years past, but Wyoming plays the Rams well, especially at home.
The Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii were the Rams second victory of the 2012 season and helped them gain some confidence going into the last four games. Rams corners Deandre Elliot and Jason Oden both had pick-sixes leading the Rams to a 42-27 victory. Both teams struggled offensively, turning the ball over five times each, but the Rams were able to capitalize on their opportunities unlike the Warriors. Hawaii will likely struggle again this season and should not pose a huge threat to the Rams even in Hawaii.
In 2011 the Broncos beat the Rams 63-13, in 2012 it 42-14. The Rams have improved much in the past two seasons, but they are still a year or two away from really challenging the Broncos. This game should be closer, but the Broncos still have too much talent for the Rams on both sides of the ball.
The Wolf Pack lose their head coach of 28 years, Chris Ault, but return star quarterback Cody Fajardo. Fajardo is an experienced, deadly dual-threat signal caller which presents problems for the Rams' defense. This game could go either way though depending on how well Nevada's defense can play in 2013. I'll give the nod to the Wolf Pack for home field.
This game featured quite a bit of fourth quarter theatrics with a game-winning drive by the Rams' offense nearly nullified by a Lobos' drive of their own. New Mexico does have running back Casey Carrier, who ran for nearly 1500 yards last year, but he only gained sixty against the Rams. The Rams offense should perform well against a depleted Lobos defense and do enough defensively to give the Rams the victory.
After beating the Aggies in Logan in 2011, Utah State returned the favor and shut the Rams down in Fort Collins last year. Chuckie Keaton returns to lead an 11-2 team who's only loses totaled five points. Despite losing head coach Gary Anderson to Wisconsin, the Aggies will still be a force to reckon with a top ten defense and top thirty offense.
What a perfect way to end the season. A heated rivalry game with two teams that will quite possibly need a victory to secure a bowl berth. Colorado State has not beat Air Force in seven straight tries, but looks to do so during a reloading year for the Falcons. The Falcons lose much of their production from last year's 6-7 team, but will have all season to work the kinks out before traveling north on I-25 to Fort Collins. This game will be much closer than in previous seasons, and I expect the Rams to pull it out to earn their first bowl under Jim McElwain.
So there it is. That is my projection for the Rams in 2013. What do you think? Let us know in the poll below and comments section.
*All times Eastern