Thanks to a scheduling change, the Colorado State Rams will open their new stadium on August 26 in a matchup against Oregon State.
The matchup between the two teams was originally scheduled to take place at the new Colorado State stadium on September 23, with the facility opening for a game against Abilene Christian on September 9. However, September 23 will now be a bye week for both schools, as the change was initially explored by CSU upon learning its 2017 Mountain West schedule would have the team playing 12 consecutive weeks before its bye in the final week of the regular season.
“We are very appreciative that Oregon State was willing to discuss the potential change and found that it also would benefit their program,” said director of athletics Joe Parker. “We understand the importance to Coach Bobo and the football program to have a bye week between the four non-conference games and the eight-game conference schedule. The change moves up the opening of our new stadium by two weeks, but the project remains on-schedule and on-budget, and we expect to be fully operational in time for the first game.”
Colorado State will now open its season with the Aug. 26 Oregon State matchup, which will serve as the historic grand opening of the new on-campus stadium, followed six days later by the Rocky Mountain Showdown against Colorado on Friday, Sept. 1 at Sports Authority Field in Denver. The Rams will host Abilene Christian on Saturday, Sept. 9, in what was originally scheduled to be the stadium’s opening game, before traveling to Alabama Sept. 16 to conclude the non-conference portion of their schedule. The Sept. 9 game will be the annual Ag Day and Orange Out game.
“The first thing that stood out to us when we saw our conference schedule was that we open conference play with back-to-back road games and that we would not have a bye until the final week of the regular season,” said head coach Mike Bobo. “Playing 12 consecutive weeks without a bye is a significant challenge, so we began to look at our non-conference schedule, and the Oregon State game was the logical date. Fortunately, they also saw benefit with their schedule, and we were able to make the switch fairly quickly. We all are excited about the opening of the new stadium and playing football on campus, and now we get to celebrate that historic day sooner than we all expected.”
Fall semester classes at Colorado State begin Monday, Aug. 21, five days before the Oregon State game. Information on Homecoming and Family Weekend and other game promotions will be announced in the coming weeks. The Rams’ remaining home dates are Oct. 14 (Nevada), Oct. 28 (Air Force), Nov. 11 (Boise State) and Nov. 18 (San Jose State).
“There is great anticipation for the opening of the on-campus stadium, and a great deal of work that continues to be done in preparation for this historic event,” Parker said. “We recognize there are fans who have made plans to travel to Fort Collins the weekend of Sept. 23 who are inconvenienced by this change, but we are hopeful that making this switch as quickly as possible will help them adjust their plans. There also are many who have plans to be here Sept. 9 for what was to be the grand opening of the new stadium. Weighing all of the factors involved in this decision, we have been particularly mindful of the importance to the football program and its competitive factors in making a final decision.”
The Rams will join two other Mountain West schools in opening their 2017 season on Aug. 26. Hawai’i will play at UMass and San Jose State will host South Florida on the first official weekend of the season. Two other FBS games are scheduled for Aug. 26: Stanford vs. Rice in Sydney, Australia, and Portland State at BYU.
The Aug. 26 game date will mark the second-earliest season-opening game in the modern era for Colorado State, and the earliest date the Rams have played a game in the state of Colorado. The Rams opened the 2002 season on Aug. 22 with a 35-29 win at No. 22 Virginia. This will be the Rams’ 10th August game.
“We look forward to continuing to work with our partners in the community and with the City of Fort Collins to make home game weekends significantly positive events for the campus community and the Fort Collins community,” Parker said. “Many new traditions will be born with the return of football to campus, and we are excited to begin those new traditions the weekend of Aug. 26.”
Rendering courtesy Colorado State University.