CU opponent glance
Opponent: Colorado State Rams
Game time: Friday, 6:07 p.m., at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver
Coach: Mike Bobo, 3rd season (15-12)
Last week: Beat Oregon State, 58-27, at home
Key players (Week 1 stats): QB Nick Stevens, Sr. (26-of-39, 334 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT); WR Michael Gallup, Sr. (11 catches, 134 yards); RB Dalyn Dawkins, Sr. (15 att., 67 yards, 1 TD; 1 catch, 18 yards, 1 TD); LB Josh Watson, Jr. (9 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 INT); LB Tre Thomas, Jr. (7 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 INT); CB Anthony Hawkins, So. (2 tackles, 2 PBU, 1 INT)
Notable: CSU forced five turnovers in the win against Oregon State and scored on the next possession each time (three touchdowns, two field goals). ... CSU has finished 7-6 in each of Bobo's first two seasons. ... Colorado has won the last two meetings and is 7-3 in the last 10. ... CSU is seeking its first 2-0 start since 2011. ... Dating back to last season, CSU has averaged 53.2 points and 553.4 yards in its last five games. They are just 3-2 in those games, however.
Despite being a junior coming off an all-conference season, Colorado State quarterback Nick Stevens played last year's Rocky Mountain Showdown like an unconfident rookie.
Colorado harassed Stevens into one of the worst starts of his career, as he completed just six of 20 passes for 31 yards and two interceptions before being benched in CU's 44-7 victory.
Based on Stevens' performance on Saturday, he will be more difficult to deal with when the Rams and Buffaloes meet on Friday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.
"I thought Nick played outstanding today at the quarterback position," CSU head coach Mike Bobo said after CSU's 58-27 win against Oregon State.
Now a senior, Stevens displayed poise and confidence against the Beavers. He was hit hard early — once getting the wind knocked out of him — and threw a first quarter interception. He brushed all that aside to finish 26-of-39 for 334 yards and three touchdowns.
Led by Stevens, the Rams had their highest-scoring game ever against a Power 5 conference team.
"He's got good experience, and he's got bad experience," Bobo said. "He was not going to panic in the moment if things didn't go well. He was not going to show nerves if he got hit. He was going to continue to be that calming force, not just for our offense, but our football team. I think he's a great example. He had a great demeanor."
The Rams will need Stevens to display that same demeanor against the Buffs.
Buffs' line coming together
Last week, Colorado senior center Jonathan Huckins said he's been pleased with how the offensive line has done in preseason practices, but that more work needs to be done before facing the Rams.
Seniors Jeromy Irwin (left tackle), Gerrad Kough (left guard) and Huckins team with sophomores Tim Lynott (right guard) and Aaron Haigler (right tackle) to form the starting group.
The goal is for the unit to act as one on every play, and Huckins said they are getting there.
"We watch the film and we see plays where we are four-strong or three-strong," Huckins said. "We really want to get that five-strong, that full offensive line. If we can do that, it's going to change games for our program. That's what we strive for every day."
The group has 83 career starts between them, but they've never started a game together. Huckins said they still have a few things to tune up before hitting the field.
"It's more off the field: hanging out together, watching film together, learning teams as a unit, instead of individualized," he said. "I think that's really going to help us out in the long run beating these teams."
In eight starts since last year's game against CU, Stevens has completed 145 of 212 passes (68.4 percent) for 2,193 yards, 22 touchdowns and only four interceptions. ... After the Oregon State game, Bobo said the Rams' game plan for CU has been done for a while, but added, "Now, we'll make some adjustments on how our guys played together and what fits us better as we form our identity, offensively, defensively and special teams." ... The last time CU opened its season against a CSU team that had already played a game was in 2002. That year, the Rams played on Aug. 22 at No. 22-ranked Virginia, and won 35-29. The next week, the Rams knocked off the 7th-ranked Buffaloes, 19-14. That was the only time in program history that CSU beat Power 5 teams in back-to-back games. ... Since 1983, CU is 10-2 against the Rams when this game is not the opener for CSU.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.