Don’t get alarmed if on Sept. 24, Colorado State isn’t one of the nation’s best 0-2 football teams.
Coach Sonny Lubick hasn’t made a habit of losing in 12 seasons as head coach of the Rams, going 95-51 straight up and 72-60-2 against the spread. It will be asking a lot of CSU to beat both Colorado and Minnesota on the road the opening two games, but the remaining 10 should carry a brighter forecast.
Colorado State returns 18 starters, including 10 on offense. Topping the list is wide receiver David Anderson, the Rams’ lone representative on ESPN’s first-team All-Mountain West Conference preseason squad.
CSU does not have to face defending national champion Southern Cal this year in Week 2, but traveling to Big Ten contender Minnesota is a tall order. Especially, when you are coming off the big archrival matchup with Colorado at Boulder the previous week.
The Buffaloes do return home to face Nevada on Sept. 24 in Week 3, the first of three straight contests at Fort Collins. Mountain West champ Utah winds up that three week run Oct. 8. Four of the six remaining opponents down the stretch had losing records last year.
Lubick’s teams have averaged better than 170 yards per game over his career, but the key could be finding a versatile run-pass QB to match the daring Bradlee Van Pelt. The Buffs came up short in that area last year and finished 4-7.
State fans, no doubt, are gearing up for the season opener with the Buffs. The game has been decided by five, seven and three points the past three years with Colorado State last winning 19-14 in 2002 as an eight-point underdog in Denver.
The opener is at Boulder for the second straight season. CSU lost as a four-point underdog last year, 27-24.
Here are two key CSU betting trends to watch in ’05. The Rams are 11-1 ATS in their last 12 MWC road games, and 2-5 ATS in the last seven matchups with Nevada-Las Vegas. The Rams end the regular season Nov. 19 at UNLV. — Mark Mayer