NCAA Football Game of the Week: August 26th

FINALLY, college football is back! Everyone has a zero in the loss column, and high aspirations of reaching the final-four playoff at the end of the season. Perfection is the only way to secure your own fate, and it starts with week 1. The slate to open this weekend isn’t as appealing as FSU v.s. Alabama or Michigan v.s. Florida, but there is one game on my radar that should be a good opener.

Game of the Week on Saturday, August 26th:

Oregon State v.s. Colorado St. 

Oregon State

2016 Record: 4-8

Returning Starters: 6 offense and 8 defense

Strengths: Line Backers

Weaknesses: Offensive line

Oregon State story line: Oregon State is coming off of a season where they saw their win- total double from the 2015 season. Unfortunately, that still only left them with 4 wins on the year. They did however, end the season with a bang as they were able to knock off rivals Arizona and Oregon before sitting out of the bowl season for the third year in a row.

Coach Gary Anderson will be looking to his transfer QB Jake Luton to make a difference this year. “I think [Luton] just became much more consistent and, frankly, he had an opportunity to compete, which was very hard for him to do in the spring with the situation he has as far as his health,” Andersen said at Pac 12 Media Days. “The consistency making good decisions that we’re asking him to make for the most part. Taking what’s there and he’s thrown the ball very, very well.”

Luton threw for 3,551 yards and 40 touchdowns last year at Ventura College. He had some trouble with an undisclosed illness in the spring time that set him back, but he was still able to win the starting position. One challenge for the QB will be avoiding the rush. The offensive line saw three starters leave after last year. Luton should get some relief from the running game though, as Ryan Nall returns from a 951yd and 13 touchdown campaign last year.

Colorado State

2016 Record: 7-6

Returning Starters: 6 offense and 8 defense

Strengths: RB committee

Weaknesses: Defense

Colorado State story line: Mike Bobo has Colorado State coming off a 7-6 season where they boasted a 5-1 home record. They departed their 49 year old stadium with a fitting 49-31 win against New Mexico, in week 11 of last season. This year they kick off the season in their new state of the art stadium.

The Rams had a prolific red zone offense last year. They were fourth in the FBS with 94.6 percent of their red zone possessions, resulting in a score. Their main reason for such success is their committee approach at running back with Daylin Dawkins, Marvin Kinsey Jr, and Izzy Matthews. Daylin Dawkins finished the year with 919 yards on the ground and 4 touchdowns. Marvin Kinsey Jr had 546 yards and 7 touchdowns, and Izzy Matthews had 734 yards and 13 touchdowns. As productive as that was, Michael Gallop was able to grab 1272 yards and 14 touchdowns through the air last year as well. With those numbers, Gallop was able to seal his selection into this year’s pre-season All-American team. With all of these players returning, it looks as though the red zone performance should continue for at least another season.

On the defensive side of the ball however, there are a lot of questions. They return 8 starters, but that’s 8 starters after an 97th ranked defense campaign. They gave up 215 rushing yards per game last year, which ranked them at 100th in the FBS, and I don’t see any fix to that in the preseason.

Spread: Colorado State is favored in this one by 4 points and O/U is 58.5.

Prediction:  CSU will be walking into their new stadium with their heads held high, and I think they will walk out the exact same way. This opening game is going to come down to the wire, possibly with a final possession making the difference between an opening win and being out of contention for the playoffs after week one. I’ve got the final at CSU 31 – OSU 28. This should be a fantastic opener to start the year off right.