Finally, some meaningful football to discuss as the opening weekend of college football is upon us. It’s not really the true opening weekend, as there’s just a handful of games for us this Saturday. I always recalled college football starting on a Thursday night, but I’m not complaining about some college pigskin a week early. The headliners this weekend has to be Stanford and Rice in Australia. No, not because of the matchup, Stanford should dismantle them. However, it’s a different setting that should garner a bit of attention. It feels more like a bowl game than a regular season contest. From a matchup perspective, I don’t think there’s too much to get excited about this week in college football. The highest-ranking teams in action on this first Saturday is Stanford and USF. Stanford enters at 14th and USF 19th in the country.
For our first college football pick, we turn to the first game of the year, which features Oregon State and Colorado State. Something is expected out of Colorado State this season. No, I don’t mean they’re going to be playing in a top-tier bowl game on New Years. The Rams should be thinking about threatening to win the Mountain West, though. In the end, they might make Boise State and Wyoming sweat a little, but I think they’re going to ultimately come up short. There is also a solid Air Force team to worry about. In other words, I see some good matchups this year in the MWC.
Colorado State went 7-6 to earn a trip to the Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise. Quite the honor, but I think the Rams have higher aspirations than playing in the Potato Bowl again. If they stay the course, they’ll find a better game to play in come bowl season. The offense caught fire, especially in the later stages of 2016. This same offense is getting a lot of talent back. Returning will be Nick Stevens under center.
The senior will look to pick up where he left off, firing darts and lighting the scoreboard up. Also returning will be his favorite receivers, Michael Gallup and Bisi Johnson. Gallup hauled in 76 balls for 1,272 yards and 14 touchdowns. All three leading rushers come back for the Rams in 2017 as well. Understandably so, now you can see why Colorado State is going to flirt with winning the Mountain West. The defense must step up and have their moments. They aren’t going be nearly as talented as their offensive counterparts, but a game or two where they play well will help immensely. Go below for the rest of the writeup and Oregon State vs. Colorado State pick.
Oregon State Beavers vs. Colorado State Rams Betting Odds:
Oregon State +4(-110)
@Colorado State -4(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Oregon State vs. Colorado State Pick:
While Colorado State is reloading, the Oregon State Beavers are looking to rebuild. After a year where the passing game was dreadful, Oregon State is searching for a starter to take the reins of the offense. The Beavers passed for just 173.8 yards per game, 110th in the country in 2016. They will look to newcomer Jake Luton, a former Idaho and junior college recruit to get better in that regard. If anything, you’re going to notice that Luton is a big guy at 6’7”.
He does have the ability to move with his large frame. Luton reminds me a heck of a lot of former Utah quarterback Travis Wilson. Both the same height, and Wilson also had a knack for using his legs when things broke down. Not a burner, but decent mobility.
It took Wilson some time to get a grasp of the offense, and even when he did, the road wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Wilson is competing to make the L.A. Rams at tight end these days. Luton is going to go through major growing pains at Oregon State. This will be his first start at the FBS level. Particularly troubling for Luton will be that he doesn’t have too many targets to lean on. He may eventually get into a rhythm with one or two guys, but it should take some time for that to come to fruition.
The Oregon State offense will go through running back Ryan Nall. The junior rumbled for 951 yards and 14 touchdowns a year ago. He is also joined by former Oregon Duck, Thomas Tyner. The running game will be potent this year for Oregon State, I will give them that. However, if there is any area to attack on the Colorado State defense it would be their secondary.
Teams will find ways to get into major shootouts with them this season. I just don’t think Oregon State will be able to exploit that trouble spot, though. They’ll churn up some yards on the ground, but I don’t think they’re going to have the horses to keep up with Stevens and company. Note that this is the debut of Colorado State’s new football facility. I see the Rams giving us a winning pick in this one to begin college football.
PICK: COLORADO STATE -4 (-110)