Colorado State vs. Fresno State prediction: Rams good play at short price

1

Perhaps having a game under its belt will prove a bonus for Fresno State, a luxury its Thursday night opponent Colorado State has not been afforded after its opener at New Mexico was canceled last week. That’s about the only silver lining in the Central Valley clouds that Mountain West insiders can find for the Bulldogs.

There appear several areas of concern for Fresno State. Specifically, new coach Kalen DeBoer (who was Jeff Tedford’s offensive coordinator for the Fresno revival a couple of years ago before spending a year at Indiana) has to be wondering what he has at quarterback after new starter Jake Haener was picked three times in a deflating, 34-19 home loss to Hawaii last Saturday.

The defense looked befuddled as Hawaii gained more than 550 yards, including a whopping 323 on the ground. The 4-2-5 schemes of defensive coordinator William Inge did not resonate in the opener. Neither did Fresno’s recent propensity to win the turnover margin. The Bulldogs ranked among the nation’s leaders in recent years, but Hawaii enjoyed a 4-1 edge last week, partly due the carelessness of Haener.

The Rams can be expected do things a bit differently than the uptempo Rainbow Warriors, as new coach Steve Addazio has a well-established, run-first identity from previous stops at Temple and Boston College. Expect CSU to improve upon its 103rd ranking in national rush stats a year ago and provide a viable diversion for senior QB Patrick O’Brien, who passed for 2,803 yards after taking over as the starter in 2019, including a 322-yard effort in a 41-31 win at Bulldog Stadium last October.

Meanwhile, sage defensive coordinator Chuck Heater, once upon a time a trusted running back for Bo Schembechler’s early Michigan teams, is a well-established tactician who served a stint on Earle Bruce’s Fort Collins staffs in the early ’90s as well as at Temple for Addazio. Heater’s switch to 4-3 looks from LY’s 3-4 and simplified schemes for the new-look Ram stop unit might prove a benefit.

With a recent history that also includes four covers in its last five on the conference trail, plus fundamental edges, most Mountain West observers simply believe CSU, even allowing for Fresno’s one-week head start, is simply a bit further along at the moment than the Bulldogs, and looks to be a decent value at this short price.

The play: Colorado State, -1.5.

View original post