Colorado State head football coach Mike Bobo is well aware that he and his Rams are 0-3 against rival Colorado.
Two of the games were relatively close, however, and Bobo doesn't think that's a coincidence.
"(In 2015 and 2017), we played a lot better (against CU) because, I thought, we played games before and we were a little bit more in game mode for those two games," Bobo said this week at the annual college football kickoff luncheon in Colorado Springs.
Colorado will open its season on Aug. 31 against the Rams at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. For the second year in a row, however, it will not be the opener for CSU, which will host Hawaii on Aug. 25.
Last year, CSU moved a nonconference game against Oregon State to "Week 0," in an effort to avoid 12 consecutive games without a bye. That game was the opener for the Rams' new stadium, and they routed the Beavers 58-27.
A week later, CU defeated the Rams, 17-3. It was not a great performance by either team — and questionable penalties benefitted CU — but it was better for CSU than a 44-7 loss the year before.
In 2015, the Rocky Mountain Showdown was played in Week 3, with CU winning, 27-24, in overtime.
This year, it was Hawaii that asked the Mountain West Conference to play the early game, allowing it to avoid 13 consecutive games without a bye. CSU now gets two bye weeks.
"It hurts you a little bit in your summer; it shortens your summer," Bobo said. "On the back end, allowing us to have two bye weeks now, I think will be huge. There's a lot of travel that goes on when you play out west and I think that takes its toll on players, so two bye weeks is helpful."
As he did a year ago, CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said he believes it is an advantage for CSU to have a game under its belt before facing the Buffs.
"I've always said I think it does, just to get rid of those first-game jitters, and you're working out some new guys out there," he said.
Bobo acknowledged it'll be tough to play Hawaii on a Saturday night and then face CU just six days later, but likes the overall benefit.
"If you look at any first game that anybody plays, there's a lot of sloppiness, to be honest," Bobo said. "There's usually some special teams mistakes, there's more penalties and I think you see improvement from Week 1 to Week 2."
After playing CU, CSU faces Arkansas at home and visits Florida. That's a tough three-week stretch against Power 5 conference teams.
"I do think it helps us to play a game before we play some of these teams that have more depth," Bobo said. "I think it gets us a little more in sync before we play those three tough Power 5s."
For CU, however, the opportunity is there to get a feel for a CSU team that features an entirely new defensive staff and a host of new players on offense, including at quarterback.
"It does give them an advantage, too, that they get to see us on tape, they get to see our new defensive coordinator, new scheme, what are we offensively," Bobo said. "They have an idea; they've seen me for three years, but we've been a little bit different every year."
Overall, CSU has six new coaches and is trying to replace its top quarterback, receiver, running back and most of its offensive line from last year.
"It's exciting," Bobo said of the changes on his team. "I could sit here and say, 'Oh gosh, we have a lot of issues,' which we do, but so do a lot of other programs across the country. You're going to lose players, you're going to lose coaches.
"We replaced six full-time coaches on staff, but I think it's brought excitement. There's a lot of new ideas, fresh ideas that are coming and I think that's healthy."
Bobo knew what to expect from a lot of his players last year, but this year, he said, "As a coach, you're excited to see who is going to step up, what you're going to become as an offense, as a defense; what's your identity going to become as a team."