Colorado State Football: Can Rams win Mountain West in 2017?

Nov 5, 2016; Fort Collins, CO, USA; Colorado State Rams quarterback Nick Stevens (7) in the first quarter against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Mike Bobo has the Rams trending in the right direction. Can Colorado State football take the next step and win the Mountain West in 2017?

It’s a new season for Colorado State and the beginning of a new era. The Rams are set to open a new state of the art on-campus stadium this fall. Buzz surrounding the program is pretty high. Not just because of the new facilities but because of the talent of the team heading into the 2017 season.

This should be Bobo’s best team to date and the Rams have a realistic shot of making some noise in the Mountain West.

Colorado State should be explosive on offense this season with the return of six starters from last season. CSU has several key playmakers such as wide out Michael Gallup, quarterback Nick Stevens and running backs Izzy Mathews and Dayln Dawkins.

The Rams have a very experienced offensive line led by center Jake Bennet, which will only add to the playmaking ability of the running backs and the effectiveness of Stevens at the quarterback spot.

While Stevens started 2016 shaky, he rebounded after being benched and coming back in when freshman quarterback Collin Hill went down with an ACL injury. Stevens wound up throwing for close to 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns. His connection with Gallup is essential for the offense as Gallup is an explosive playmaker. He finished with close to 1,300 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns in 2016.

The Colorado State defense will be what needs to improve the most if the Rams are to make a run at the Mountain West championship. The defense returns eight starters and a ton more of experience than they did last season.

Last year’s inexperience led to some high scoring affairs for CSU and their opposing teams. Towards the end of the season (excluding the bowl game) the defense was getting better. With more maturity and experience Colorado State should be better on defense, in particular along the defensive line and in the defensive backfield.

CSU’s conference schedule helps as well. The Rams get Boise State, Air Force, and Nevada at home. Their toughest conference road game comes at Wyoming for the annual Border War rivalry game. If CSU is able to beat Boise and Wyoming, they’ll be sitting pretty in the Mountain West race. The non-conference schedule is manageable with the opener against Oregon State at home, a winnable game for the Rams. Colorado State will also travel to Denver to face Colorado, then Abilene Christian at home and then a road trip to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama.

Ram fans are excited about the new on-campus stadium, but the outlook for the football team in 2017 is even more exciting. It could be a very memorable season in Fort Collins this season.

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