Monday, February 13, 2017

Farewell to 2016: Colorado State Rams

2016 was a season of recurrent dominance on one side (San Diego State), and a resurgence on the other (Wyoming). The strength of the MWC was once again on the Mountain Division side of the league, as both Boise State and Air Force finished with 10 wins after bowl season was over with, and New Mexico finished with 9 wins. Wyoming, finished with 8 after being one of the worst programs in America in recent seasons. The Cowboys made it to the MWC title game after holding off charges from both Boise State and New Mexico, and while the season could have finished better for the Cowboys, the surge in success in Laramie had to be recognized as a huge move forward for Craig Bohl and his Cowboy program. In the West, Hawaii showed signs of life under Nick Rolovich, but the rest of the division, not including San Diego State, tanked once again, that side of the league will have 3 new head coaches in 2017. Here is a look back at the season that was in 2016.

Colorado State Rams
7-6 (5-3)

2016 Schedule
Lost to Colorado 44-7
Beat UTSA 23-14
Beat Northern Colorado 47-21
Lost to Minnesota 31-24
Lost to Wyoming 38-17
Beat Utah State 31-24
Lost to Boise State 28-23
Beat UNLV 42-23
Beat Fresno State 37-0
Lost to Air Force 49-46
Beat New Mexico 49-31
Beat San Diego State 63-31
Lost to Idaho 61-50 (Idaho Potato Bowl)

MVP Offense: WR Michael Gallup, RB Izzy Matthews
Despite missed games by starter Nick Stevens at QB, Gallup continued to play up to a higher level in 2016, posting a line of 76-1272-14 on the season. He averaged 16.74 yards per reception, and 97.8 yards per game, and busted out with a 213 yard game in a shootout loss to Air Force. He caught 3 TD passes in each of the final two games of the season in a win over San Diego State, and in a loss to Idaho. He missed the UTSA game, but only went scoreless in games against Colorado and Wyoming, both losses. 
Matthews was not the primary back, but scores an MVP award because of his dedication to scoring. Matthews rushed for 13 TDs this season off of 734 yards. He carried the football 153 times, and averaged 4.8 yards per carry as a sophomore. 
MVP Defense: LB Kevin Davis
Davis was a beast for the Rams in 2016, as he led the team with 110 tackles, averaging 8.46 per game. Davis also added 10.5 TFLs to lead the team, 3 sacks, 4 QB hurries, and 4 forced fumbles, and even ended up with a pick in a win over Utah State. All 3 sacks came i a win over UTSA as well, and in both cases, helped stave off opportunities that could have lost those games. Davis also recorded 17 tackles in their loss to arch rival Colorado, and added another 10 in the loss to Air Force. He added 2 forced fumbles in that Air Force loss as well. 
Others of Note: QB Nick Stevens missed 3 games in 2016, and the Rams went 2-1 in those games. He passed for 19 scores to just 5 picks, and one has to think that he could have been a difference maker in the losses to Minnesota and Wyoming. 
Sophomore Josh Watson is a rising star at LB after recording 90 tackles in 2016. He collected 7.5 TFLs and 5 QB hurries on the season. Sophomore DB Braylin Scott came up solid as well, as he led the team with 3 INTs.
Best Win: San Diego State 63-31
Although the Aztecs had already wrapped up the MWC West Division, and likely were not playing their most focused football at that time, beating the eventual conference champ by 32 points is a highlight of anyone's season. The win over SDSU also wrapped up a 4-1 run that propelled to Rams into the postseason at all and got them to 7 wins on the year. 
Worst Loss: It is difficult to find a really bad loss on the schedule, as every team the Rams lost to saw a bowl game in 2016. That said, the Idaho loss in the bowl was against a football team that is dropping status to FCS football in 2017, and the Rams looked pancake flat defensively all night long. Idaho literally had their way with the Rams in this game, and Colorado State looked worse than bad. 
2017 Non Conference Schedule: 9/1 Colorado @ Denver, 9/9 Abilene Christian. 9/16 at Alabama, 9/23 Oregon State
Colorado will not likely be as good as they were in 2016 next fall, so losing by 37 again will not likely be the case for the Rams. If they can pull the upset there, they could have a second chance to pull off a win over a PAC-12 team when Oregon State comes to Fort Collins on 9/23. The ACU game should be a relatively easy win, but the Alabama game can be marked with a loss right this moment. 

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