By now, your Showdown hangover has subsided and your resolution to “never drink again” is still intact. It’s Wednesday, people. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The NFL starts tonight and we’re already previewing the Rams home opener against North Dakota State, so you’ll be drinking again before you know it. You’re welcome.
Every team has a “trap” game each season that goes something like … “CSU beats CU, forgets NDSU is actually very good, loses, season in the toilet, no new stadium, blah, blah…" Not going to happen. Coach Mac didn’t come to Fort Collins just to beat CU. He came to beat everyone. The Bison are the defending FCS champs, with a 14-1 record in 2011. They are currently #1 in the polls after thumping Robert Morris 52-0. (Robert Morris is a university, not just one guy).
In the past six seasons, NDSU is 5-3 against D-1 opponents. The Bison are coached by Craig Bohl, a former Nebraska “Blackshirt,” and defense is his specialty. The Bison nearly shut out Kansas in Lawrence, escaping with a 6-3 win in 2010. The Bison are not going to be intimidated by CSU. Junior QB Brock Jensen is a pocket passer with poise and confidence. His receiving corps is very young, with no WR notching more than 10 receptions last year. WR Zach Vraa has a nice game last week and looks to be the go-to guy. RB Sam Ojuri is looking to make 2012 more impressive than the 1100 yards he gained last year. The Rams rush defense will be tested early and often. If the Bison are forced to pass, the CSU secondary will make some plays and force turnovers.
CSU’s defense brought multiple looks and created a lot of confusion for the Buffs last Saturday and that will be the plan for the rest of the season. With the emergence of Shaq Barrett and MWC Defensive Player of the Week Cory James, the Rams can rush the passer, confuse the O-line and drop into coverage. Largely ignored during the Fairchild era, Coach Mac has brought his SEC defensive style with him to Fort Collins. It’s weird, but I actually feel confident the D will make stops and get off the field.
Offensively, CSU will start with the run and hope to remain physical throughout the game. With Nwoke hampered by an ankle injury, Donnell Alexander could start and show his playmaking ability. If Nwoke is Thunder, then Alexander is Lightning. CSU will look for more from their passing game. Importantly, Grayson was safe with the ball, passing for a pedestrian 176 yards and 2 TDs against CU. The return of Thomas Coffman combined with Dominique Vinson’s improvement will help to balance out the gameplan. Look for TE Crockett Gillmore to get more involved this week after disappearing in the Showdown. The O-line will be solid again but needs to be patient.
Neither team is an offensive juggernaut, but if I had to choose one to erupt, it would be the Rams at Hughes after a big win. The Rams are feeling the juice of the Bold New Era and seem to be buying in to a winning mentality. And with so much confidence in MWC Special Teams Player of the Week K Jared Roberts, the Rams can take the field goals and get back on D. Rams win a close one.
Rams 13 Bison 10
Week 1 Sidenotes:
Helmet Awards for week one have been updated. Thanks for submissions. Click here to take a look at the winners.
For those of you who tried to log onto our live game chat last week for the CU game, we have to apologize. We were having some technical difficulties. We've got it straightened out now. Sorry for the slip up. We'll try not to let it happen again.