College Football: 3 underrated non-conference games to watch in 2020

CJ Verdell, Oregon football (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
CJ Verdell, Oregon football (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Colorado football
Laviska Shenault Jr. holds Centennial Cup, Colorado football (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

3. Colorado at Colorado State

For the first time since 1996, the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown between Colorado and Colorado State will be played in Fort Collins, home of the Rams. Since then, the rivalry has been taken place in Denver 19 times and in Boulder four times.

The Buffaloes have kept control of the series the past decade, winning eight of the 10 games played throughout the 2010s. Going into the new decade, both teams will be looking to write different storylines with their new head coaches.

Mel Tucker’s abrupt departure to Michigan State was unexpected to say the least, leaving a team in the midst of a rebuilding process back at square one. While the Buffaloes may not have seen an immediate improvement in year one of Tucker, something was being built.

Miami Dolphins’ wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell took the reins in Boulder with previous Pac-12 experience as head coach of UCLA. Only finishing with a winning record twice in five seasons in Los Angeles, there have been questions around the hiring. Either way, Dorrell is in a difficult situation with trying to get his feet under him during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fifty-five miles north in Fort Collins, Colorado State is also undergoing a transition period between head coaches. After opening a brand new $220 million and 41,000 capacity stadium with updated facilities in 2017, Mike Bobo was expected to take the program to the next level. Instead, the Rams have gone 7-6, 3-9, and 4-8. For a Group of Five program updating their facilities as much as they did, more is expected.

Ten days after being fired from Boston College, Steve Addazio replaced Bobo to turn the ship around. The career 57-55 heading coaching record may not inspire, especially after six or more losses in six out of his seven Boston College seasons. However, Colorado State is hoping an experienced Power Five coach can turn the team around.

Now, two head coaches who have question marks surrounding their names and their hirings will have an immediate test in their first game of the season. In one of the few Power Five versus Group of Five rivalries in college football, winning this game is just as important to these two teams as any other in-state rivalry game would be.

Returning to on-campus matchups, the Rocky Mountain Showdown could escalate to new heights. Colorado State has not won in Fort Collins since 1955 when the school was still known as Colorado A&M. The Buffaloes will want to get on the right start with Dorrell and extend this rivalry winning streak to six years in a row.