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College Football Odds & Picks For Colorado State vs. Wyoming on Thursday

College Football Odds & Picks For Colorado State vs. Wyoming on Thursday article feature image

Joe Sargent/Getty Images. Pictured: Colorado State head coach Steve Addazio.

Wyoming at Colorado State Odds

Wyoming Odds -3.5 [BET NOW]
Colorado State Odds +3.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -165/+145 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 52 [BET NOW]
Time Thursday, 9 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday night and via BetMGM, where Action Network users can get a $500 deposit match.

Wyoming and Colorado State meet up on Thursday night for a Mountain West contest and the 112th edition of their rivalry game dubbed “The Border War.”

The Cowboys look to keep building momentum following their 31-7 win over Hawaii last Friday night. Wyoming put together an impressive all-around performance to contain the Rainbow Warriors after falling to Nevada in overtime of their season opener.

The Rams had their season opener against New Mexico canceled, so their season began last week at Fresno State where they fell to the Bulldogs, 38-17. The Rams’ offense looked sloppy and enter this game with a quarterback controversy but figure to fare better at home against the Cowboys with a game now under their belt.

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Wyoming Cowboys

The Cowboys displayed major improvement in last week’s win over Hawaii compared to their season-opening loss to Nevada. The offense jumped from 5.4 yards per play the week prior to 6.2 against the Rainbow Warriors. The defense also improved from giving up 6.4 yards per play to just 4.1.

Levi Williams is Wyoming’s starting quarterback, beating out Sean Chambers for the job in training camp. Williams is a strong runner, and having a quarterback who’s a threat in the ground game is part of the Cowboys’ offensive identity.

Williams’ production has been mixed through the first two games. In the first half against Nevada, he struggled through the air and the offense sputtered as a whole, gaining just 111 yards and scoring only six points even after recovering a fumble deep in Nevada territory. However, Williams turned things around in the second half, leading an impressive comeback to force overtime. The Cowboys scored 25 second-half points, and he rushed for two scores and threw for another, looking comfortable throwing the football in obvious passing situations while trailing.

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In the Hawaii game, Williams posted a mediocre stat line, completing just 50% of his passes for 112 yards. The Cowboys didn’t really need Williams to do a whole lot, as the rushing attack couldn’t be stopped. Wyoming pounded the ball against the Rainbow Warriors, running 59 times for 281 yards. The Cowboys never trailed and controlled the line of scrimmage all game, so there wasn’t a need to air it out.

Like I mentioned before, the Cowboys also showed dramatic improvement on defense between their first and second games. The Wyoming secondary was torched by Nevada QB Carson Strong in the opener, as he threw for 420 yards and four touchdowns with no picks.

After that concerning effort, it had no issues limiting Hawaii through the air or on the ground, holding Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro to under a 50% completion percentage and just 110 yards. The Rainbow Warriors only managed 123 yards of rushing on a subpar 4.0 yards per carry.

This isn’t your grandfather’s Hawaii offense; it’s transitioning to a new system under Todd Graham and had to replace star quarterback Cole McDonald, who left early for the NFL. However, it was still a very impressive performance for a defense filled with question marks and a good sign for the Cowboys moving forward.

Colorado State Rams

The first two weeks of the Mountain West season have only brought disappointment for Colorado State. The Rams couldn’t play their season opener, which was canceled due to COVID-19 cases within the New Mexico program. When they finally took the field last week at Fresno State, they took a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter before Fresno took control and re-gained the lead before halftime. Colorado State eventually fell to the Bulldogs, 38-17.

The biggest storyline for Colorado State heading into this matchup is who will start under center. Temple transfer Todd Centeio received the nod over incumbent starter Patrick O’Brien in the opener but was replaced by O’Brien in the fourth quarter after an up-and-down performance. Head coach Steve Addazio announced on Monday that he’s made up his mind on who will start Thursday, but he won’t reveal it publicly until game day.

If Colorado State sticks with Centeio, it will be for his dual-threat ability. Centeio was the Rams’ leading rusher last week, surprising the Fresno State defense early on and finishing with 80 yards on the ground. He was inefficient through the air, completing just 10-of-23 passes and missing some open receivers.

For this reason, my gut feeling is that O’Brien will start Thursday night. O’Brien’s numbers don’t wow you, but he did complete 61.8% of his passes in nine starts last season and was 7-of-10 for 82 yards and a touchdown in relief of Centeio last week. Seeing how vulnerable the Cowboys defense was to a strong passing attack against Nevada, going with the better passer in O’Brien seems to make the most sense.

However, don’t be surprised to see both quarterbacks play on Thursday, as Centeio could provide some value for the offense in obvious rushing situations.

While the focus surrounding this Colorado State team from the outside is on the quarterback situation, the coaching staff will be directing its focus to finding some answers on defense.

The Rams defense really struggled last week, especially defending the pass. Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener had his way with the Colorado State secondary, throwing for 311 yards and three scores with a gaudy 14.1 yards per completion average. The Rams fared better against the run, only giving up 84 total rush yards (helped out by some big sacks) but struggled to contain star Fresno running back Ronnie Rivers.

Rivers managed 94 yards on the ground and 69 yards receiving and two total scores. The Rams defense is experienced and had high hopes for improvement this season, but early on, it has shown to be susceptible to big plays, especially through the air.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

I think Wyoming’s defensive success against Hawaii was a little misleading. It caught the Rainbow Warriors on the second leg of a back-to-back road trip, a spot that Hawaii historically struggles in. Hawaii also has a young team transitioning to a new offensive system that’s running more, so the pieces for Graham’s offense to be successful aren’t all there yet.

The Cowboys probably won’t give up 400+ yards through the air every week as they did against Nevada, but the real Wyoming defense is likely something in between what we saw in the first two weeks.

What I see in this game is two secondaries that are vulnerable. The big question is whether or not the quarterbacks are capable of exposing these units. When he had two scores in the second half against Nevada, Williams showed he was capable of hitting his receivers and moving the ball downfield consistently.

We don’t yet know who will start for the Rams, but that could benefit them. I like them to have a strong initial script for their starter to get some points on the board early. Whether O’Brien starts or not, if the Rams are trailing and forced to throw in the second half, you will see him in the game.

The number is low enough here where a first-half scoring drought for one team can be made up in the second half by keeping the ball in the air and stopping the clock constantly. Expect both teams to move the chains and put enough points on the board to bring the over home.

Pick: Over 52.5 (up to 55)

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