Colorado State continues to churn out mediocre seasons under Mike Bobo, finishing with a 7-6 record in all three of his years as head coach. Things may be a little more difficult this time around with only 10 returning starters and a new quarterback, which won’t practice with the team until the fall. That all leads to an over/under (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) of 5.5 wins and +4000 odds to win the MWC, meaning Bobo’s run at another bowl is projected to end.
The loss of quarterback Nick Stevens, one of the school’s best ever, along with running back Dalyn Dawkins and receiver Michael Gallup will be hard to replace. Those three led a dynamic offense over the years and ended up scoring 33 points per Game last year. Grad transfer K.J. Carta-Samuels is expected to step in at QB once he gets there, although it’s not like he had much experience behind Jake Browning at Washington. The skill positions should be set, but the line only returns two starters and will be banking on Louisville transfer T.J. Roundtree at tackle to keep the group from falling apart. Izzy Matthews (583 yards, 8 TDs) finally takes over as lead back in his senior season, while top returning receiver Olabisi Johnson (476 yards) is joined by Tennessee transfer Preston Williams, who got plenty of praise in the spring.
The main reason Colorado State didn’t win more than seven Games last year was because of the defense, which has often been the case for this team. Bobo decided to change his entire defensive staff ahead of this season bringing in John Jancek, a former Tennessee defensive coordinator. Jancek is changing things around with a 4-3 alignment that should benefit from senior linebackers Josh Watson and Tre Thomas. Of course, only Four starters return so it’s doubtful the transition will improve the defense immediately. The line has some unknowns, while the secondary at least has a returning corner (Anthony Hawkins) and safety (Jordan Fogal) to go with another grad transfer that’s expected to start immediately. The defense won’t be good, but it can be competent.
With only Four starters returning on both sides of the ball, reaching a bowl won’t be easy, especially with only one win likely in non-Conference play unless the Rams can steal a win against Colorado as a touchdown underdog. Getting to six wins will likely require a road win or two. There will be opportunities at SJSU, Nevada and Air Force, but that still requires betting on a team that won’t be able to practice with its quarterback until the fall. The hope is that Carta-Samuels is the guy everyone thought he was as a top-20 QB out of high school and one that UCLA also fought to get this past year. Per usual for Bobo, the Rams will be around six wins, but can they reach a bowl Game again?
2018 Colorado State Rams Football Schedule
Aug. 25 vs. Hawai’i
Aug. 31 vs. Colorado (Sports Authority Field, Denver)
Sept. 8 vs. Arkansas
Sept. 15 at Florida
Sept. 22 vs. Illinois State
Oct. 6 at San Jose State
Oct. 13 vs. New Mexico
Oct. 19 at Boise State
Oct. 26 vs. Wyoming
Nov. 10 at Nevada
Nov. 17 vs. Utah State
Nov. 22 at Air Force