Can you feel it?
Weâ€™ve finally arrived at the start of the college football season. And that means itâ€™s time to predict where this yearâ€™s team is headed.
Will there be another three-win season, or maybe at long last weâ€™re going bowling?
My answer is neither, and hereâ€™s my game-by-game breakdown of the Ramsâ€™ 2011 season explaining why.
Game 1: CSU (0-0) vs. New Mexico
On the surface you couldnâ€™t ask for a better matchup to start the season. New Mexico was an abysmal 1-11(1-7 MW) last year, including a 72-0 loss at the beginning of the season to the University of Oregon.
New Mexico ranked near the bottom in every major statistical category both on offense and defense and dead last in points against, giving up 44 points per game.
It is a conference game, so there is added importance to start on top of the conference. With quarterback Pete Thomas fully in control of the offense, I see the Rams struggling on offense early but figuring it out to win comfortably.
Rams get their first road win in 11 games.
CSU-28, New Mexico-10
Game 2: Northern Colorado vs. CSU (1-0)
The first home game of the year pits the Rams against UNC for the first time since 1986. CSU won that contest 46-14, and I see no reason why the recently turned Division-I team will pull the upset on the road.
CSU will don the Ag Day orange uniforms for the second time, and I like the mojo that comes with those beautiful retro jerseys.
Game 3: Colorado vs. CSU (2-0)
Hands down the biggest game of the year, and I would love to say that we pull out a win, but I just donâ€™t see it happening.
CU has a higher talent level, including a quarter back in Tyler Hansen who has plenty of experience. Thatâ€™s not to say a win is out of the realm of possibility. Thomas and the offense will have a better showing than last year.
CU will have to fight the urge to look past the Rams at Ohio State the week after, and therein lies our best shot.
Game 4: CSU (2-1) vs. Utah State
This is the part of the schedule that gets tricky. Utah State was 4-8 in 2010 and a tempting pick to say the Rams handle them.
However, CSU has not been good against road teams in recent years. Utah State runs the ball effectively, helping them control the clock and pace of the game.
Canâ€™t explain it, but Iâ€™ve got a bad feeling about this game.
Game 5: San Jose State vs. CSU (2-2)
The Rams return home from Utah to face a very sub-par San Jose State team that went 1-12 and failed to win a single WAC game.
SJSU can do nothing other than throw the ball, and coming off a loss, CSU comes out on topâ€¦big.
Game 6: No. 5 Boise State vs. CSU (3-2)
Leading Heisman Trophy candidate Kellen Moore, a record of 61-5 in five years under head coach Chris Peterson and three bowl game victories, two of them BCS games.
Yeah, itâ€™s going to get ugly.
Game 7: CSU (3-3) vs. Texas-El Paso
Following a one-sided drubbing at the hands of No. 5 Boise State the week before, morale is down for the Rams and once again theyâ€™re on the road.
UTEP went to the New Mexico Bowl last year and got thrashed by Brigham Young, a feeling the Rams are familiar with.
CSU is feeling down after losing the week before and wonâ€™t be ready for a hostile road environment yet again.
Game 8: CSU (3-4) vs. Nevada-Las Vegas
Similar to New Mexico, UNLV struggled last year to score points and keep its opponents off the board.
At 2-11, UNLV finished in near the bottom of the Mountain West, getting outscored by an average 22 points a game.
The Rams get the job done again on the road after two tough trips.
Game 9: San Diego State vs. CSU (4-4)
San Diego State may have been the surprise of the conference last year going 9-4 and defeating Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl.
SDSU lost its top two wide receivers Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson in an offense that ranked 12th in the nation in passing yards. But returning starters include senior quarterback Ryan Lindley and MW Freshman of the Year Ronnie Hillman.
The game is at home, which plays in favor of CSU, but SDSU simply has too much firepower.
Game 10: CSU (4-5) vs. Texas Christian
TCU boasted the best defense in the country last season surrendering an amazing 12 points per contest.
The defense of TCU will remain dominant and it will put more of a focus on running the ball in 2011. I see an easy victory for TCU.
Game 11: Air Force vs. CSU (4-6)
Air Force put the hurt on the Rams last season, 49-27, in Colorado Springs and you can expect to see much of the same.
Quarterback Tim Jefferson returns to the Falcons on the cusp of becoming the most prolific quarterback in school history, paired with senior running Asher Clark to create a potent rush offense guided by head coach Troy Calhoun.
CSUâ€™s defense will have its hands full in this tough matchup and itâ€™s more than they can handle.
Game 12: Wyoming vs. CSU (4-7)
By far the most embarrassing game of 2010 for CSU was the beat down given by Wyoming. The Rams appeared just as surprised as the fans when they went up to Laramie and got pelted 44-0.
Thereâ€™s no doubt CSU had no business losing the game (Wyoming lost to both New Mexico and UNLV) and revenge will be on the mind. If this game doesnâ€™t fire the Rams up, nothing will.
The gameâ€™s at home and CSU is poised to reclaim the Bronze Boot.
Final Record: 5-7 (3-4)
There you have it. CSU will show improvement, especially offensively, but I believe Fairchild is still a year off from returning to a bowl.
Iâ€™ll be the first to admit they could win all their non-conference games and make me look stupid, but Iâ€™m willing to take that chance.
Sports Editor Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.