Oregon State Beavers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Colorado State Rams (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday, August 26th, 2:30 PM
Where: CSU Stadium
By Mike M., NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OSU +3.5/CSU -3.5
Over/Under Total: 60.5
Oregon State trails east to Fort Collins to take on Colorado State in the opening game of an abbreviated first weekend of the college football season with just five matchups on the schedule evenly spread throughout Saturday. The teams have split in their previous two matchups against each other with the last one having been played 42 seasons ago.
Colorado States offense returns all of their key skill position players from last seasons squad that finished 28th in scoring and 30th in yards per game. Nick Stevens is back for his senior year at quarterback after splitting time with Collin Hill last season and throwing for just under 2,000 yards with an impressive 19-5 TD/INT ratio that helped him finish second in the conference in QB rating. He gets his favorite target back in wide receiver Michael Gallup, who caught 76 passes for 1,272 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, nearly all of which came with Stevens at quarterback including a streak of eight straight games to end the season with at least 91 yards receiving and one touchdown in each. The rushing attack returns the duo of Dalyn Dawkins and Izzy Matthews, who combined for 1,653 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns between them and leads what is arguably the conferences best all around backfield and this week gets to look forward to an Oregon State rushing defense that struggled last season and finished 102nd in the nation in yards on the ground allowed per game.
Stopping the run wasnt the only issue for the Oregon State defense last season, ranking 82nd in scoring and 79th in total yards allowed per game. While they do return eight starters on defense, with the best being linebackers Bright Ugwoegbu and Manase Hungalu along with Freshman All American cornerback Xavier Crawford, they are not expected to be particular strong in any area and figure to put up a similar statistical disappointment in 2017 as they did last season. They will need immediate improvement in applying pressure as well after finishing 105th in the nation in sacks, and if they give Rams quarterback Nick Stevens too much time in the pocket he has a good chance of exploiting the weaknesses they have throughout.
The Beavers offense is in a similar position with seven starters back but a lack of talent returning except for junior running back Ryan Nall and wide receiver Seth Collins. This situation was made near dire with Collins now out indefinitely with an injured finger, which leaves the question of who will JUCO transfer at quarterback Jake Luton throw to as he attempts to get used to his new surroundings and an opening weekend draw against a Colorado State defense that returns eight starters including three out of four to a defensive backfield that helped the team finish 32nd nationally in passing.
While the Rams backfield returns plenty of talent, their true strength is likely at the linebacker position consisting of Josh Watson, Evan Olorito, Tre Thomas and Deonte Clyburn, who is back after a blood clot issue kept him from playing last year. The group as a whole has had all offseason to think about their struggles at the end of last season when they let up 172 points in their final four games including their especially disappointing 61-50 upset loss to Idaho in the Famous Idaho Bowl that the Rams were favored by 15 points to win, which was the largest spread of any of the 41 bowl games played.
With a lot of talent returning to both sides of the ball has Colorado State in good position to challenge for a Mountain West title in what would be their first conference championship since 2002. This weekends game will be not only be the season opener, but also the first game in their new $200 million+ stadium located on the Fort Collins campus. They matchup well against Oregon State, negating their opponents lone remaining offensive strength of running back Ryan Null with a powerful front seven that should not only be able to keep Null contained but also provide plenty of pressure on Jake Luton in first ever game as the quarterback for Oregon State. In front of what should be a raucous crowd at the new Colorado State Stadium against a Beaver team that has struggled mightily on the road (they have never won an away game in two seasons under head coach Gary Anderson having gone 0-13 in that time span), I fully expect Colorado State to get an easy win and cover against Oregon State to start off what promises to be another great season of college football.
Mike M’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Colorado State Rams -3.5
Bet your Beavers/Rams picks at an online sportsbook where you can bet on games at -105 odds instead of the more expensive -110 price tag that your bookie is sticking you with! Making the switch to betting at discounted odds will save you TONS of cash! Find this great offer as well as 20 point teasers and parlays up to 25 teams at the web’s best bookmaker: 5Dimes.