The Rocky Mountain Showdown returns to INVESCO Field in Denver, Colorado this Saturday. Notwithstanding the in-state rivalry and bragging rights, the Colorado-Colorado State game is sure to set the tone for both teams in 2010.
You could argue that CU has more at stake than their counterparts in Fort Collins. Last year the Rams won 23-17 and basically took the air out of the Buffs before the season even really got going. Colorado cannot afford to let that happen again. Anything less than a convincing victory will cause doubt amongst CU fans and will set the stage for the beginning of the Coach Dan Hawkins’ watch.
There is no reason to believe the Buffs will lose this game. All of the match ups favor them, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines. The Ram’s offensive line is inexperienced and will be susceptible to veterans Marquez Herrod, Curtis Cunningham, and Will Pericak. With true frosh Pete Thomas starting at quarterback for CSU, anticipate the Buffs putting a lot of pressure on him. The Rams will try to counter by establishing a running game. If the Buffs can stuff the run, it will force Thomas to beat them, which plays into the hands of CU’s defensive game plan. Look for Jalil Brown and Jimmy Smith to jump the routes and lockdown on CSU’s receiving corps. If the defensive front and the defensive backfield perform as they are capable of doing, then it will relieve the pressure on Colorado’s linebackers who are at this point in time the biggest unknown on defense.
On offense, the Buffs will be going against the strength of the Rams team. It is imperative that Rodney “Speedy” Stewart get off to a good start. If Speedy is able to rip off four and five yard runs, quarterback Tyler Hansen will be in his comfort zone with short yardage situations. The key will be to keep a body on Ram linebackers’ Ricky Brewer and Mychal Sisson respectively so they don’t knock the CU running game on its heals. If he has to throw on third and long or the Buffs get behind early, Hansen will have to prove that he is up to the challenge and complete some throws downfield to an inexperienced, but talented group of wide receivers led by Toney Clemons and Travon Patterson. This is not a strength of Hansen’s so look for Colorado to keep the Rams off balance by having him throw on first down to TE Ryan Deehan and veteran WR Scotty McKnight.
All and all the Buffs are superior to the Rams on both sides of the ball, but rivalry games like this sometimes off-set the competitive advantage the BCS conference teams typically enjoy. Coming off a 3-9 season, CU should be anything but overconfident. Look for the Buffs to be focused and ready to play. If not, then Coach Hawkins will have to look at himself in the mirror and ask himself if he is up for the job. Anything less than a victory and the answer from the Boulder faithful will be no.
About the Author
Written by Brian O'Connor
Graduated from the University of Colorado in 1993 and have been a big fan of the Buffs since the halcyon days of Coach McCartney, Big 8 titles and a National Championship. While I know I'll get nostalgic when the day arrives, I'm hoping that a change of scenery to the PAC 10 will lead us back to the glory days. Until then, I want to see some Buff pride in what will probably be our last year in the Big 12. Beat Nebraska.