Colorado State Football: First Look at the 2018 Schedule
Now that the Mountain West football schedule has been released, what does it mean for the Colorado State Bulldogs and their title hopes?
Will the Rams reload or rebuild?
After a disappointing season in 2017, the Rams hope to get back on track in 2018. They will have to do so without the services of Michael Gallup, Dalyn Dawkins, Nick Stevens, & Jake Bennett.
The Rams were supposed to be tested right out the gate with three straight Power Five games in Colorado (in Denver), hosting Arkansas, and going to Florida. But thanks to the Hawaii rule, CSU will open the season in week zero again. This time they will host Hawaii. The Rams will then go into their tough stretch of three straight P5 games. The Rams will be tested before they really get into conference play.
What stands out from a first glimpse at the 2018 slate?
1. The nonconference schedule is perfect for the Rams
With two winnable games against Power Five opponents, one cupcake, and one money game this works out for the Rams. After getting the defense up to speed against Hawaii, the Rams can roll into the gauntlet with some confidence. Colorado and Arkansas are potential wins for the Rams. The Rocky Mountain Showdown is always a toss-up between these two. Getting Arkansas to Fort Collins, thank you Michigan, is not only a boost for the team, but it’s a boost for the administration as well. A Power Five opponent going to a Group of Five opponent is becoming more common, but it’s still a boost to the Group of Five schools as more tickets are sold.
The Florida matchup is part of Jim McElwain’s buyout from CSU. Even though McElwain is no longer at Florida, this is still a great opportunity for the Rams. While most know the Rams probably have no chance, it’s still an opportunity to show out against a high profile opponent. And to round out the Rams noncon schedule, Illinois State. While the Redbirds are an FCS team, they are just two years removed from beating Northwestern and three years from making the FCS playoffs. This will be a good opportunity for the Rams to work out the kinks before conference play really kicks in.
2. The Schedule is fan friendly for Rams fans. For now.
The schedule is set up great for Rams fans. A week zero match up, a good Power Five home match up, and two bye weeks. It also is every other week in conference play for home and away games. Last season, Rams fans didn’t show up as much when they played back to back home games. There is also only one November home game.
The reason I say, for now, is because the times haven’t been announced for the majority of the games yet. There were a lot of complaints from Rams fans last season about the 8:30 kickoffs. Hopefully, the schedule works out so that there aren’t that many 8:30 kicks offs.
3. No back to back option
While it hasn’t helped get both victories the past two years, it has been beneficial for CSU to play both New Mexico and Air Force back to back. This season they play them six weeks apart. This will be especially difficult on the new defensive staff for Colorado State.
The option offense requires the defense to be disciplined. Having those two back to back helped keep that discipline in check, somewhat. Now the coaches will have to get the team back on track.
Hardest stretch: Colorado (neutral), vs Arkansas, at Florida
Easiest stretch: vs Illinois State, at San Jose State, vs New Mexico
Guaranteed wins: Illinois State, New Mexico, San Jose State, Hawaii
Guaranteed losses: Florida
Worse than 50/50 games: Air Force
50/50 games: Boise State, Wyoming, Colorado, Arkansas
Better than 50/50 games: Nevada, Utah State
Preliminary projected record: 9-3