Colorado State hasn’t quite been able to duplicate their 2014 season in which they went 10-2 before losing head coach Jim McElwain to Florida and losing the Vegas Bowl. Since Mike Bobo took the helm, he has led the Rams to three straight 7-6 seasons. Can’t say he hasn’t been consistent. Is this the year he gets to to 8 wins or higher? Do they end up 7-6 once again or perhaps finish even lower?
Mike: Last year was one of their better teams talent-wise with an NFL WR and all-conference QB at the helm, among other talent. Even with all that, they still ended up in the same spot as always. Although they add Washington grad-transfer KJ Carta-Samuels to bring some offensive firepower and Izzy Matthews should be a nice compliment in the backfield. Bobo is always able to recruit great talent and this year was no exception. Their class was highlighted by do-it-all athlete Nikko Hall, who will make an immediate impact as a wide-receiver.
Looking at their schedule, Hawaii, Illinois State, SJSU, New Mexico, and 2 of Nevada/USU/Air Force should be wins. On the other side, their tough non-conference stretch of Colorado, Arkansas and Florida are likely losses. Boise State and Wyoming are also tough games. If they can pull off one of those or sweep their last 3 games, plus their bowl game, 8-9 wins isn’t out of the question. But 7 wins sounds about right again, although the talent is there to win more.
Matt: If it doesn’t happen this year, it probably won’t happen under this coaching staff. Bobo has been bringing in apparently every grad transfer on the market, including a P5 QB in KJ. They are restarting at a bunch of positions though, which explains the grad transfers. I’d say Bobo’s seat is starting to heat up, but then CSU just signed him to an extension. So, definitely puzzling.
What will be important is winning road games, and not coughing up huge leads like last year. Having that Week 0 game against Hawaii could give them a good amount of momentum to start the season, and it gives them a second bye week in the heart of the schedule, always important in case of injuries. There’s the standard Rocky Mountain Showdown, although both teams are coming off disappointing seasons last year. Then they hit two SEC opponents in Arkansas and Florida. Both teams with brand new head coaches, but I’d expect Arkansas to be the more likely game they could pick up than Florida. Not saying they win the game, but they’ve got maybe a 25% of winning, instead of a 5% chance against Florida. Then it’s Illinois State, which should be a certain win unless everything has gone completely sideways in Fort Collins. Which means they could enter October with anywhere between 2 and 4 wins. If they sit at 4-1, getting 3 more wins out of SJSU, UNM, Nevada, Air Force, Wyo, USU, and Boise should? be doable. Then there’s the probable bowl game, which could get them to 8.
The doom scenario here though is if they don’t do well in their first 5 weeks. Say they drop the Colorado, Arkansas, and Florida games, and all of a sudden they have to win 5 of 7 down the stretch, including their main Mountain Division rivals. A lot of their ability to get past the 7 game hump requires them entering October above .500. It’s doable, but they really need to prove this coaching staff can get past that roadblock of 7 wins
Zach: The short answer is no. Colorado State is replacing a good chunk of the most talented offense they have had in years. Michael Gallup, Nick Stevens, and Dalyn Dawkins will be almost impossible to replace. Bobo has been praised for his recruiting, this year that will be tested. Transfer quarterback KJ Carta-Samuels will likely be the starter on opening day. This team will rely heavily on grad transfers and those don’t always pan out. There is a good chance the Rams go 1-3 in non conference play. The league schedule is manageable and gives the Rams hopes of a bowl game. I expect them to go 6-6 or 7-5 and represent the Mountain West in a bowl game.
Jeremy: The 2017 Rams were as confounding as any team in the Mountain West. They both did and didn’t live up to the hype. On one hand, they were as terrifying on offense as many expected. Early on, it appeared they could play with anyone. On the other hand, they didn’t come anywhere close to living up the New Year’s 6 bowl hype that preceded them in the preseason. Enter 2018, and well, this headline says it all.
I’ve always subscribed to the theory that expectations should be tempered if a team lacks heavily in experience. Nobody in college football lacks experience quite like the 2018 Rams do. While I think Bobo and staff are recruiting at a high level for a Group of 5 program and will eventually breakthrough, I think this season they slip to the 5-6 regular season win total with pressure mounting going into 2019 to win 8+.
Terrance: My Alma Mater had a disappointing end to the season last year. The way they battled against Alabama which gave them all sorts of momentum for the remainder of the season. However after winning 4 straight games to give them a 6-2 record, they slipped and lost the next three games in disappointing fashion. The low point was blowing a 28-3 lead to Boise State. This lead to Mike Bobo cleaning house on the defensive coaching staff, which was much needed. The defensive was responsible for the 2 of the 3 losses of that streak when they couldn’t stop Air Force (They scored every possession except for one punt) nor Boise blowing a 25 point lead at home.
This season is going to be a unique challenge because the schedule is more difficult, and there are going to be a lot of new faces on the offensive side of the ball. Replacing eight starters just on the offensive side of the ball. The defense has five returning but there are players who contributed more on that side of the ball. The quarterback question remains in play because Colin Hill is trying to recover from re-tearing his ACL in the offseason. He ahead of schedule but K.J Carta-Samuels could be the guy behind center in the opener this year. My outlook for them is another 7-5 season. I believe they’ll finally win the big rivalry games in which Bobo hasn’t won yet. They will take some lumps early in the non-conference but will right the ship and finish strong to make another bowl game.