It's human nature to get excited about new things, and because of that, it's no surprise that there's a heightened level of energy around the Colorado State football program this year.

The Rams are set to open a brand-new, $220 million on-campus stadium on Aug. 26 when they host Oregon State in the season opener. This week, coaches are starting to settle into their new offices, and players are getting ready to move into their new locker rooms.

As head coach Mike Bobo prepares his team for the upcoming season, however, he hopes they don't focus too much on the shiny, new digs and lose sight of their mission.

"(The new stadium) is an awesome thing that's happening for Colorado State and this community, but we have a big responsibility as a coaching staff and a football team to make sure we're ready when we walk in there," he said this week at the annual Kickoff Luncheon in Colorado Springs. "We haven't earned anything just because we got a new stadium."

Sure enough, the new stadium, in itself, won't win the Rams any games, but they are hoping to capitalize on the momentum and turn it into a great season.

Beginning with CSU, BuffZone.com will take a look at each of Colorado's opponents over the next 12 days. CU and CSU will square off on Sept. 1 in Denver, and Bobo is hoping his team is better prepared than it was last year, when CU thumped the Rams, 44-7 — the easiest win in the series in 60 years.


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"I don't remember that game," Bobo joked.

It was certainly one the Rams would like to forget, but Bobo said it was also "something we learned from."

When the teams meet in the Rocky Mountain Showdown, it may not be as easy this time around for CU.

Seeking a fifth consecutive bowl appearance, CSU appears to have its best team in Bobo's three seasons in Fort Collins. There are plenty of weapons on offense, led by senior quarterback Nick Stevens. Defensively, there's a lot of experience back from a unit that struggled, but expects to be better.

The non-conference schedule is brutal, as it includes two Pac-12 teams (CU and Oregon State) and the overwhelming favorite to win the national title (Alabama), but the Rams are projected by some as a contender for the Mountain West title.

While the new stadium and new facilities are nice, Bobo ultimately hopes his team focuses on the field. If they do, the Rams will present the Buffs with a tough test in the opener.

"Really you focus on what you can control, and that's getting ready every day," Bobo said. "We arrive by the work we put in every day. We just constantly talk about the responsibility we have to each other, and all the Colorado State Rams and faithful out there. It's a big responsibility."

CU opponent preview: Colorado State Rams

Date with CU: Sept. 1, 6 p.m., at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver

Head coach: Mike Bobo, 3rd year (14-12)

Series: CU leads 64-22-2

Rams in 2016: 7-6, 5-3 in Mountain West, lost to Idaho, 61-50, in Potato Bowl

Returning starters: 14 - 6 on offense, 8 on defense

Offensive players to watch: C Jake Bennett, Sr., (29 career starts, including 26 in a row); RB Dalyn Dawkins, Sr. (161 att., 919 yards, 4 TD; 20 catches, 162 yards, 1 TD); WR Michael Gallup, Sr. (76 catches, 1,272 yards, 14 TD); RT Zack Golditch, Sr. (25 career stars); WR Olabisi Johnson, Jr. (28 catches, 613 yards, 4 TD); RB Marvin Kinsey (93 att., 566 yards, 7 TD); RB Izzy Matthews, Jr., (153 att., 734 yards, 13 TD); QB Nick Stevens, Sr. (129-201, 1,936 yards, 19 TD, 5 INT).

Defensive players to watch: OLB Evan Colorito, Sr. (63 tackles, 8 TFL, 2 sacks); DT Toby McBride, So. (32 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 TFL); CB Kevin Nutt Jr., Sr. (29 tackles); SS Jake Schlager, Sr. (72 tackles); S Justin Sweet, Sr. (44 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 pass breakups); SLB Tre Thomas, Jr. (38 tackles, 6 TFL); DE Darnell Thompson, Sr. (29 tackles, 3.5 sacks); MLB Josh Watson, Jr. (90 tackles, 6 TFL, 1.5 sacks).

Notable: CSU is 0-5 against Power 5 conference teams over the past two years, including back-to-back losses to CU. ... Stevens was awful against the Buffs last year (6-for-20, 31 yards, 2 INT, 0 TD) and lost his starting job for the next five weeks. Outside of that game against CU, however, he completed 68 percent of his passes with 19 TD and only 3 interceptions (2 of those in the Potato Bowl). The CU game was the only one Stevens started and didn't throw at least two TD passes. ... Dawkins has averaged 103 rushing yards and 137 yards of total offense in two games against CU. ... The Rams are expected to have senior linebacker Deonte Clyburn back. He was a starter in 2015 but missed last year with blood clots. ... Junior kicker Wyatt Bryan returns after hitting 11-of-14 field goals (8 of 9 inside 40 yards) and 53 of 55 extra points last year. ... After committing 27 turnovers in 2015 (ranking 116th nationally), the Rams had just 15 last year (ranking 17th). ... CSU's 35.3 points per game last year was the third-best average in program history (record: 36.7 in 1997).

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.