It's the start of summer, which means the college football preview magazines are hitting the shelves.

Colorado's 2017 football season is just around the corner, beginning with the Sept. 1 opener against Colorado State in Denver. Coming off a stellar 10-4 season (8-1 Pac-12) and Pac-12 South division title, the Buffs are eyeing a second consecutive bowl appearance.

The "experts" do expect CU to drop off a bit from last year, but not to the point that they miss the postseason. Athlon Sports and Street & Smith's both project the Buffs to finish third in the South, while Lindy's has the Buffs finishing fourth.

Athlon projects CU will finish 7-5 (4-5 Pac-12) and land in the Las Vegas Bowl. Street & Smith's has the Buffs going to the Sun Bowl. Lindy's did not project a record or specific bowl, but ranks the Buffs at No. 41 in the nation coming into the year.

What about CU's opponents?

BuffZone.com will take a more in-depth look at each of CU's opponents closer to the season, but for now, here's a quick glance at what some of the national pundits are saying about the Buffs' opponents.

1. Colorado State (2016: 7-6, 5-3 Mountain West; lost Potato Bowl to Idaho, 61-50)

Date with CU: Sept. 1 in Denver


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Projections: The Rams are seeking a fifth consecutive bowl appearance, and appear to have the goods to get there. Athlon Sports projects the Rams to finish second in the Mountain West's Mountain division, with an 8-4 overall record (6-2 in conference), and play in the New Mexico Bowl. Lindy's projects the Rams to finish third in the Mountain division, and Street & Smith's picks the Rams to finish fifth and miss out on the postseason.

2. Texas State (2016: 2-10, 0-8 Sun Belt)

Date with CU: Sept. 9 in Boulder

Projections: The Bobcats have played just five seasons in the Football Bowl Subdivision and over the last two years have a combined record of 5-19. They aren't expected to be much better this year. Athlon and Lindy's both have the Bobcats last in the 12-team Sun Belt, while Street & Smith's projects them to finish 11th.

3. Northern Colorado (2016: 6-5, 4-4 Big Sky)

Date with CU: Sept. 16 in Boulder

Projections: Not a lot of ink is devoted to the Football Championship Subdivision in the magazines, but Street & Smith's has the Bears finishing seventh in the Big Sky, while Lindy's puts them in ninth. Athlon's edition does not break down the FCS conferences.

4. Washington (2016: 12-2, 8-1 Pac-12; lost CFP semifinals to Alabama, 24-7)

Date with CU: Sept. 23 in Boulder

Projections: After reaching the College Football Playoff semifinals last year, the Huskies are once again projected to be one of the nation's best. Athlon ranks Washington at No. 4 coming into the year, and projects a 12-1 record, Pac-12 championship and return trip to the CFP. Lindy's and Street & Smith's both have the Huskies winning the Pac-12 North, but losing to USC in the conference title game. Both also have them at No. 8 in the preseason rankings.

5. UCLA (2016: 4-7, 2-7 Pac-12)

Date with CU: Sept. 30 in Los Angeles

Projections: Not considered a Top 25 team coming into the year, the Bruins are expected to improve. Athlon projects them to finish second in the South division with a 7-5 record (5-4 Pac-12) and a trip to the Sun Bowl. Lindy's projects UCLA third in the South and 38th nationally. Street & Smith's has UCLA placing fourth in the South and playing in the Armed Forces Bowl.

6. Arizona (2016: 3-9, 1-8 Pac-12)

Date with CU: Oct. 7 in Boulder

Projections: After a last-place finish last year, the Wildcats are projected to finish at or near the bottom again. Athlon and Street & Smith's both have the Wildcats placing last in the South, while Lindy's has them in fifth. Athlon projects a 5-7 record (2-7 Pac-12).

7. Oregon State (2016: 4-8, 3-6 Pac-12)

Date with CU: Oct. 14 in Corvallis, Ore.

Projections: Continued improvement is expected in coach Gary Andersen's third season. Street & Smith's projects OSU to finish fourth in the North and play in the Las Vegas Bowl. Lindy's has the Beavers fifth in the North, but No. 62 nationally - which puts them in bowl contention. Athlon projects a 5-7 record (3-6 Pac-12) and fifth-place finish in the North.

8. Washington State (2016: 8-5, 7-2 Pac-12; Lost Holiday Bowl to Minnesota, 17-12)

Date with CU: Oct. 21 in Pullman, Wash.

Projections: Another solid season is expected from the Cougars, who are projected third in the North by Lindy's and Street & Smith's, and fourth by Athlon. Street & Smith's and Athlon both project a Foster Farms Bowl invite for the Cougars, and Athlon projects them to go 8-4 (5-4 Pac-12). In preseason rankings, Athlon has Wazzu at No. 28 and Lindy's has the Cougars at No. 30.

9. California (2016: 5-7, 3-6 Pac-12)

Date with CU: Oct. 28 in Boulder

Projections: Under the direction of new head coach Justin Wilcox, the Bears are expected to struggle. Athlon, Lindy's and Street & Smith's all have Cal finishing last in the North. Athlon projects a 3-9 overall record (2-7 Pac-12). Cal has averaged just 4.4 wins a year over the last five years.

10. Arizona State (2016: 5-7, 2-7 Pac-12)

Date with CU: Nov. 4 in Tempe, Ariz.

Projections: The Sun Devils are projected to miss the postseason for the second year in a row. Athlon and Street & Smith's both project a fifth-place South finish, while Lindy's puts ASU at the bottom of the division. Athlon projects a 5-7 record (2-7 Pac-12).

11. Southern California (2016: 10-3, 7-2 Pac-12; Beat Penn State in Rose Bowl, 52-49)

Date with CU: Nov. 11 in Boulder

Projections: This is arguably the best team on CU's schedule. Lindy's and Street & Smith's both project the Trojans to win the Pac-12 title and play in the College Football Playoff. Lindy's has USC at No. 2 and finishing the year in the CFP title game against Alabama. Street & Smith's has the Trojans at No. 4. Athlon has USC at No. 5 to start the season, finishing 11-2, losing the Pac-12 title game to Washington and playing in the Fiesta Bowl.

12. Utah (2016: 9-4, 5-4 Pac-12; Beat Indiana in Foster Farms Bowl, 26-24)

Date with CU: Nov. 25 in Salt Lake City

Projections: Over the last three years, Utah has gone 9-4, 10-3 and 9-4. Much of the same is expected. Lindy's and Street & Smith's both project the Utes to finish second - behind USC - in the South. Both also have the Utes at No. 25 in their preseason rankings. Street & Smith's projects a Holiday Bowl appearance. Athlon puts the Utes at fourth in the South, finishing 7-5 (4-5 Pac-12) and playing in the Cactus Bowl.

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.