Collegian | Sophia Sirokman
Battle on the gridiron: CSU or Michigan in week 1?
August 31, 2022
At the beginning of every college football season, every team in the country has a fresh start. Before any game is played, every team is undefeated and looks to stay that way once the season starts. No two teams are more eager to get the 2022 campaign started than the University of Michigan and Colorado State University. The Wolverines ended their season in the College Football Playoff semifinal with a loss to the University of Georgia, while the Rams finished last season with a 3-9 record and no postseason appearance. But with a revitalized coaching staff and a motivated squad looking to jumpstart a new chapter of CSU’s football program, is there a chance at upsetting the preseason No. 8 Michigan Wolverines?
Michigan will undoubtedly crush CSU football
It’s time to get this out of the way: Completely objectively, bias aside, paper-to-paper, this game won’t even be close. There’s a reason Las Vegas and the betting apps have the spread hovering around 30, and the University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh isn’t one to pull up just because his team is leading by a fair margin.
But it doesn’t stop at Harbaugh.
There’s a quarterback competition in full motion in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and there are two very capable passers trying to prove why they deserve to be “the guy.” In the first game of the season, Colorado State University will have to try to stymie a Big Ten championship-winning quarterback, as graduate student Cade McNamara reminded everyone at Big Ten Football Media Days back in July, and the senior is as confident as ever heading into the Wolverines’ first game.
There will be no punches pulled by McNamara, who has reportedly only improved since last season, as he tries to win the job. If sophomore J.J. McCarthy ends up coming in, which Harbaugh said is very possible, he too will be trying to do everything he can to score and prove himself the best quarterback on the Wolverines’ roster.
“That’s not a team — even after a new recruiting class, a new year and a new coach — that can trot into Ann Arbor and eke out a win against Michigan.”
I’ll cave and admit the Michigan defense is unproven and will likely face a regression from last season following the departure of NFL-caliber players in Aidan Hutchinson, David Ojabo and Dax Hill. But they’ll still be better than what the Mountain West Conference has to offer: defenses CSU did not fare so well against last season.
Sure, it’s a new coach and theoretically a new start for the Rams, but that won’t be enough to bounce back against a College Football Playoff-appearing, Big Ten-winning Wolverine squad — not from the depths CSU is attempting to pull themselves from.
I’ll use the words of my adversary, Braidon Nourse, because I think he put it best: “CSU football was a disaster last year. The Rams had an awful 3-9 overall record last season capped by a 52-10 beatdown at the hands of the University of Nevada, Reno.”
That’s not a team — even after a new recruiting class, a new year and a new coach — that can trot into Ann Arbor and eke out a win against Michigan.
The Wolverines are the best football team CSU will play this year, so there’s a good opportunity to learn some lessons, improve and maybe even run the table. But if you’re a Ram fan, don’t get your hopes up to head back home with a win — just try to find some positives.
You shouldn’t count Rams football out against Michigan
I get it: It’s the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor, the Wolverines, over 107,000 fans at capacity, the big dogs. That doesn’t matter — Colorado State University can hang with them.
It’s impossible to argue with someone who follows Michigan football and not bring up that fateful Sept. 1, 2007, abomination that saw Michigan fall to Appalachian State University, so I’ll get that out of the way now. By the way, oddsmakers favored Michigan by a spread of 33 for that game.
It’s 2022 now, and times have changed. Yes, the Rams were abysmal in their 2021 campaign, an awful 3-9 team that at their best could have gone 6-6 and at their worst 1-11. However, on Sept. 3, the Wolverines will find out just how far the Rams have come since then.
“If Michigan isn’t ready, there could be 107,000 frowns exiting Michigan Stadium come Sept. 3.”
The quarterback situation in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is odd. Not often do teams have two capable quarterbacks like Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy that in the first two weeks of the regular season will still be battling for the starting spot. These guys will be playing their hearts out for the role, there’s no doubt about it, but there’s a possibility mistakes will be made in an effort to make plays and impress the great Jim Harbaugh.
No matter the situation in the Michigan quarterback room, the Rams don’t need to stop the Wolverines from scoring, they just need to stay afloat and keep the game close. While the Michigan offense is talented, I’ll have to agree with what my opponent, Nicholas Stoll, said: The defense needs work.
Luckily, CSU’s offense is based on a potent passing game and is loaded with talented pass catchers who, if slept on, can cause serious problems to a Big Ten squad with defensive issues. It’s a perfect storm for the underrated Rams squad to upset the big dogs in the Big House.
If there was one shining moment for the Rams last season, it was the 10-point loss to the 23rd-ranked University of Iowa Hawkeyes. This was a game in which a run-heavy CSU offense led by an underwhelming quarterback in Todd Centeio went on the road and led the team to a halftime lead. Iowa woke up in the second half and won that game, but the difference in offensive personnel this year for the Rams is clear.
Ram nation has something on their hands this year they’ve been lacking for half a decade. If Michigan isn’t ready, there could be 107,000 frowns exiting Michigan Stadium come Sept. 3.
Braidon Nourse is the fall 2022 sports editor for The Collegian. He started working for The Collegian in November 2021 as a sports reporter but has taken...