By Tim Chapman Writer/Analyst
Colorado Pass vs. Colorado State Pass Defense
Edge: Colorado

The Buffs' new QB, Joel Klatt, has been a model of efficiency in the pocket. He is a cool customer with a quick release and rarely makes mistakes. Of course, this is all based on practice performance, but he has what it takes to run this offense soundly. The Rams' pass defense allowed opposing QBs to complete 58 percent of their passes for 208 ypg. I like CU's speed on the outside against the CSU corners and expect Klatt to put a few over the top early. Klatt will see a good amount of work rolling out of the pocket, so the FB (Vickers) and TE (Klopfenstein) will play important roles in this football game. A note of interest- CSU's defense has appeared a bit out of shape and has been easily tired. We'll see if that is sharpened any come Saturday.

Colorado State Pass vs. Colorado Pass Defense
Slight Edge: Colorado

This pick may surprise some people, but Colorado's pass rush has been stifling in practice thus far. They return only two starters up front, but their depth allows them to fill in and substitute regularly with talent. The Buffs also play a 4-2-5 scheme, calling for a blanket in the secondary, forcing the underneath pass rushers to get to the QB and keep everything underneath sound. Van Pelt is a talent in the open field, but he will be flustered by the unconventional coverage and will find it tough to escape the athleticism in the front-six/seven. The Rams don't have any game-breakers at WR, and going with a two-TE set most of the time takes away the deep threats. As good as the CSU O-line is, I still believe the Buffs' pass rush will force Bradlee out of his element, causing him to struggle in the passing game. He will be forced out of the pocket and right into the arms of Sean Tufts or Akarika Dawn.

Colorado Run vs. Colorado State Run Defense
Edge: Colorado

See Colorado run. We've seen it year in and year out. This one shouldn't be much different. The Buffs return only one starter from a year ago, but their new line should still stand over the undersized Ram defensive front. This will force CSU to bring their LBs up to the line of scrimmage and crowd the box to keep the Buffs from running up the middle. Colorado would be advised not to have Klatt run the option much against these ends and backers. Throw it in every once in a while, but stick to the definite ground force. Traps, draws and lead plays will be found most effective against CSU, keeping the QB healthy in mind and body for the crucial pass game. Again, the FB will have a busy night for this offense to hit their stride. We can expect to see at least three RBs for CU - Purify, Calhoun and one of two freshmen backs- Brandon Caesar and/or Isaiah Crawford.

Colorado State Run vs. Colorado Run Defense
Edge: Colorado State

Because Colorado lost a good amount of bulk up front, the CSU run game should account for pleasant production. The Rams have three stable backs on top of their running, gunnin', helmet-spikin' QB. Rahsaan Sanders and Tristan Walker will get most of the carries and will be running behind a great run-blocking O-line. CU will eventually have to stack the box and play more of a 5-3-3 look in the secondary to take away the run. This will force Bradlee to test the athletic secondary and take his chances against the pass rush. Lubick will succeed putting the ball on the ground, but any fumbles in this area will be an immediate shot in the foot that will result in the literal immobility for this offense.

Special Teams
Edge: Colorado State

The Buffaloes have one of the most electrifying return man in the game, Jeremy Bloom. The guy averaged almost 15 yards per punt return, taking a couple back for TDs. Knowing that, the Rams are likely to keep the ball away from him, even if it means sacrificing some yards. Away from Bloom, the Buffs are gloom. They break in a freshman kicker and walk-on punter (who was recently awarded a scholarship). The ship will be a bit loose on special teams for CU- a stark contrast to Lubick's CSU team. Kicker Jeff Babcock is a Groza candidate who will double as the team's punter, alternating with freshman Jim Kaylor. Along with Dexter Wynn, David Anderson is a special person who could give the Rams a big play somewhere along the line. CSU should win this battle.

Final Thoughts

Anyone who hasn't seen this Rocky Mountain Showdown has missed. Ever since 1993, this rivalry gets better and better. If you're a Buff you don't kiss a Ram and if you're a Ram, you don't kiss a Buff- it's that simple. This atmosphere makes for a great kickoff to the season. Gary Barnett has not had much success in Colorado openers (0-4), and is chomping at the bit to take the field. CSU should be the favorite and will likely carry a bit of arrogance in their higher ranking ( has CSU #24 and Colorado #27) onto the field. But once the lines are drawn, the Rams will catch a quick punch to the mouth. I like the Buffs' defense to create a quick turnover on the first series and really set the tone for the slugfest that will follow. I ultimately like the CU defense to rise to the occasion, holding the Ram offense in check to keep the scoring down. The Buffs are too athletic, especially in the secondary, which is where the Rams will have to beat them. Klatt will do the little things to get the job done and deliver Barnett his first season-opening win in his tenure at Colorado.

Chappy's Pick: Colorado 19, Colorado State 10