Throughout the 121-year history of Colorado State football, only two quarterbacks have been able to beat Colorado twice. Garrett Grayson looks to become the third player to achieve the feat Friday when the schools meet in the 86th Rocky Mountain Showdown at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. The Rams are 21-62-2 all-time in the series, with Matt Newton (1999-2000) and Alexander Hutton (1915-16) the only signal-callers to lead Colorado State to multiple wins over the Buffaloes.
Grayson, who threw for a school-record 3,696 yards last season, will be relied on even more this season after Kapri Bibbs declared for the NFL Draft following a sophomore campaign that saw him become only the third running back in NCAA history to rush for 30 or more touchdowns. Colorado opened the Mike MacIntyre era last year with two wins – including a 41-27 victory over the Rams – before dropping six of its last eight to post the school’s eighth straight losing record. The Buffaloes have won eight of the last 11 meetings between the in-state rivals, with each of their last four victories coming by at least 14 points.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1. LINE: Colorado -3
ABOUT COLORADO STATE (2013: 8-6): Grayson will have plenty of familiar targets to throw to in his senior season as the Rams return their five most-used wide receivers and John Mackey Award candidate Kivon Cartwright. Four players will vie to fill the void left behind by Bibbs, including returnees Jasen Oden Jr. and Bryce Peters as well as transfers Dee Hart and Treyous Jarrells. Colorado State returns leading tackler Max Morgan, Butkus Award candidate Aaron Davis and four players with starting experience in the secondary, which should help overcome an inexperienced defensive line.
ABOUT COLORADO (2013: 4-8): MacIntyre has 13 underclassmen listed atop the depth chart, including two young team captains in quarterback Sefo Liufau and middle linebacker Addison Gillam. Liufau threw for 12 touchdowns after replacing Connor Wood midway through his freshman season, but will be hard-pressed to build upon his moderate success without Paul Richardson, who declared for the NFL Draft after a junior season in which he accounted for 10 of Colorado’s 21 receiving touchdowns. Gillam became the first freshman in school history to lead his team in tackles (a freshman-record 119).
1. Grayson will become the first Rams quarterback since Robert Hainlen (1945, 1947-48) to start against the Buffaloes three times.
2. Liufau and Gillam are the first two permanent captains elected as sophomores in Colorado history.
3. Colorado State was the only FBS team with a 3,500-yard passer and a 1,500-yard rusher (Bibbs - 1,741) a season ago.
PREDICTION: Colorado State 31, Colorado 21