Colorado wary of rival Colorado State even after rout a year ago

Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo, right, talks with quarterback Nick Stevens during a time out against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017, in Fort Collins. Bobo called the Rams a “different team” than the one that lost 44-7 to rival Colorado in last year’s Rocky Mountain Showdown. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER | Colorado quarterback Steven Montez’s quip perhaps wasn’t a show of disrespect toward Colorado State so much as a healthy dose of respect for his high-octane offense.

“There are a lot of weaknesses in that defense and we’re going to try to exploit them as best we can,” Montez said . “I expect us to score a lot of points.”

It was tame by trash talk standards. But his honest assessments created some chatter on social media and added a little more fuel to the fire before the 89th edition of their rivalry on Friday night at the Denver Broncos’ stadium.

His coach, Mike MacIntyre, was much more diplomatic. MacIntyre insisted Colorado State (1-0) had his team’s undivided attention even on the heels of last season’s 44-7 rout — the most lopsided in the rivalry since 1956. He had the reigning Pac-12 South champions watch clips of how the Rams finished the season and grew into a squad that earned a bowl appearance.

“In no shape or form will they take CSU lightly,” MacIntyre said. “It’s such a good rivalry game with a lot of intensity involved in it. You’ve always got to come ready to play.”

That loss a year ago was a wake-up call for the Rams, who didn’t have a first down until the second quarter.

“We knew that we were going through some growing pains. It was a 44-7 growing pain,” Rams coach Mike Bobo said. “We are a different team.”

Colorado State demonstrated that by opening its new on-campus stadium last weekend with a 58-27 win over Oregon State. The Rams amassed 525 yards of total offense and created five turnovers.

“It’s always good playing an opponent and have to strain and have to overcome and find a way to win,” said Bobo, whose team moved their opener to Week Zero so they would have a bye week later in the season. “We have to do that this Friday. We have to strain, get after it for 60 minutes and hopefully that will put us in position where we have a chance to make it a fourth quarter and have a chance to win a ball game.”

Here are things to know as Colorado leads the all-time series 64-22-2:

NICK OF TIME: Rams QB Nick Stevens was pulled from the Colorado game a year ago after completing 6 of 20 passes for 31 yards and two interceptions. He eventually won his job back and turned in a season in which his passing efficiency rating (171.3) was among the highest in the nation. In the win over the Beavers last week, Stevens threw for 334 yards and three TDs.

DEVIL OF A TIME: Nicknamed the Tasmanian Devil for his work ethic, Colorado senior running back Phillip Lindsay is coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,189 yards and 16 TDs. It’s safe to say the Rams will keep close tabs on him. “Phillip Lindsay is like the heart and soul of their football team. He plays with toughness,” Bobo said. “He plays with a swagger. He plays with an attitude.”

FLIPPING OUT: The Buffaloes won 13 of 14 coin flips last season. The probability of that happening was one in 1,092, the team said. Colorado deferred to the second half each time it won the coin toss.

GALLUP POLL: Rams WR Michael Gallup caught 11 passes for 134 yards against the Beavers. It was his sixth straight 100-yard receiving game dating to last year. “He’s an excellent receiver,” MacIntyre said. “He’ll make his catches … we have to keep him from being too explosive. Hopefully, we can corral him a little bit.”

BRAGGING RIGHTS: MacIntyre knows the importance of this game. Fans remind him all the time. “I saw a guy the other night and he showed me a picture of an outfit that he had to wear to work and he says, ‘Coach, I don’t want to have to wear this outfit again. I had to wear it in 2014 to work, because we got beat,'” MacIntyre said. “You’ve got little side things like that happen all the time that make it more of a rivalry. I think that’s pretty cool, pretty fun.”