The college football season kicks off next Thursday in most people’s minds, but it technically does kick off this week with four games, two games featuring FBS teams playing each other. While these aren’t big-time match-ups that are being hyped up, they do have some fairly interesting aspects to watch. Duquense plays UMass and Prairie View A&M plays Rice. I won’t be previewing those games because they feature FCS teams, but I will preview the other two games that are featuring FBS teams.
Hawai’i vs Colorado State, 7:30 PM ET, CBS Sports Network
A Mountain West conference match-up to get the FBS vs FBS season going. Hawai’i was set up to be a solid team this season in the third season of the Nick Rolovich era, but they have had a lot of departures that were unexpected. Colorado State will have to try and replace some really important players on offense this season, and we will get an early look at how they are going to go about replacing those guys.
The Rams have one of the better offensive lines in the conference, and that is going to be a lot for the Warriors to deal with as they are not very strong up front defensively, especially on the line. They do have solid linebackers, but there will be a lot of pressure on those guys I would think, with the mismatch up front that will likely happen between the Colorado State offensive line and the Hawai’i defensive line.
KJ Carta-Samuels will be making his first career start at Colorado State. The Washington grad transfer is a nice option to replace Nick Stevens, and he will have a great chance to get settled in against what could be the worst defense in the conference.
For Nick Rolovich it’s all about trying to be competitive this season and that’ll be tough from the start going to a place where it should be really warm and more importantly they’ll be playing at elevation. Cole McDonald is a pretty unknown commodity at quarterback, but he will have to play a very good game for the Warriors to have a chance to go in and win this game.
Prediction: Colorado State wins 52-28
Wyoming vs New Mexico State, 10:00 PM ET, ESPN2
This should be a fun match-up. Despite losing Josh Allen, who really wasn’t that good in college, Wyoming should be pretty good. They will be carried a lot by their defense, but some good reports have come out about Tyler Vander Waal at quarterback for Wyoming. As a redshirt freshman it’ll obviously be his first career start and he does have to go on the road to do that, which will be interesting to watch. I’d expect them to try and get a running game established to take pressure off of Vander Waal, but that could be problematic because New Mexico State is bring back six of their seven guys from the front seven a year ago.
New Mexico State likes to throw the ball, and that’ll be a fun match-up because Wyoming has what should be a very good defense, including a very good secondary, lead by star safety Andrew Wingard. Tyler Rogers is not back for New Mexico State so they’ll be breaking in a new quarterback, which will be a tall task having to open up against this Wyoming defense.
I think both of these teams have a chance at being solid this season, but I really like Wyoming because of their defense and because of Craig Bohl.
Both teams are breaking in new quarterbacks against defenses that look like they should be pretty good, at least on paper, which leads me to think this is going to be a fairly low-scoring defensive battle to open up the season, and overall I think this’ll be a fun game to watch and thank goodness football is back!
Prediction: Wyoming wins 20-14