Colorado vs. Colorado State preview

Colorado and Colorado State meet for the 83rd time today.

Here we go again.

The annual Rocky Mountain Showdown is on tap for today, as the Colorado Buffaloes and Colorado State Rams will meet at the recently re-named Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.

What's at stake? Well, a lot actually.

CU (0-2) is desperate for a win, having not tasted that feeling since last season. Tough losses to Hawaii and Cal have the Buffs hungry to win their first game.

"Being 0-2, we've got to win one," quarterback Tyler Hansen said.

There's a lot at stake for CSU, too. The Rams are 2-0 and need every win they can get in the pursuit of bowl eligibility.

Although CU is 0-2, the Buffs insisted this week that panic has not set in. After all, traveling to Hawaii is never easy, and the Buffs showed fight in that game; and they came back to play well in the loss to Cal. Still, there is a strong desire to finally break through.

"There's definitely a sense of urgency," receiver Paul Richardson said. "There has to be every week in every game. Against Cal we showed a lot. It didn't add up at the end, but we played really, really hard."

Here's a glance at today's game:


When/Where: Today, 11:30 a.m., at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver

The series: Colorado leads 60-20-2, including a 24-3 win over the Rams in Denver last season.

Last week: Colorado lost at home to California, 36-33 in overtime. CSU defeated Northern Colorado at home, 33-14.

Last year: CU finished 5-7 and CSU was 3-9; both teams failed to reach bowl eligibility.

Capital city showdown: Today's game marks the 11th time CU and CSU will meet in Denver. CU is 6-4 in those games.

Change of direction?: CU head coach Jon Embree will go against CSU for the first time as a head coach. Embree's two predecessors -- Dan Hawkins and Gary Barnett -- both lost to CSU in their first seasons.

P-Rich breaking free: Colorado receiver Paul Richardson has been stellar so far this season. He caught two touchdown passes in the opener against Hawaii. Then, he broke a school record with 284 receiving yards (on a record-tying 11 catches) against Cal last week. He also scored twice again, on catches of 66 and 78 yards.

Ram to keep an eye on: LB Mike Orakpo -- The sophomore - and younger brother of Washington Redskins star Brian Orakpo - is CSU's leading tackler through two games (18 total). He'll need to step up with fellow linebacker Mychal Sisson out with an injury.

Buffs to keep an eye on: Offensive line -- The line is the key to most teams, and CU's line has been under the microscope already this season. As a group, they've had issues in both run blocking and pass protection. Both will have to be improved against the Rams.

Did you know?: CU has allowed at least 34 points in its last four games, and six of its past seven, dating back to last season. This is the first time CU has allowed 34-plus points in four straight games since the 2003 season, when six straight opponents racked up 34 or more. In the Buffs' past 11 games, 10 opponents have put up 26 points or more.

This and that: The Rams and Buffs met for the first time on Feb. 11, 1893, with CU winning 70-6. ... CSU's Pete Thomas is the first Rams QB to start back-to-back games against CU since Caleb Hanie in 2006 and 2007. ... Thomas currently ranks as CSU's all-time leader in completion percentage (66.0 percent). ... The Rams and Buffs are set to meet every year through 2020. Through 2019, the games will be at Sports Authority Field at Mile High; the 2020 meeting is slated for Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins. ... CU's Tyler Hansen and CSU's Pete Thomas will both make their second straight starts at quarterback in this series. The last time both teams brought experienced QBs into the matchup was 2005, with Joel Klatt (CU) and Justin Holland (CSU).

How the Rams can win: Limit mistakes and move the chains. Quarterback Pete Thomas has to keep the offense churning all day. It would help the Rams if they can get going early and put points on the board in the first few possessions.

How the Buffs can win: Get the ground game going. This is the same key as last week. So far, the Buffs have struggled to run the ball. They made up for it with a record-setting passing day last week against Cal. Still, they need the run game to take some pressure off quarterback Tyler Hansen and dynamic receiver Paul Richardson.