Wednesday marks exactly 99 days until college football kicks off and the two in-state schools are still trying to find themselves. CU and CSU had very different seasons last year with the Rams going 10-3 and playing in a bowl game for the second straight year. The Buffs, on the other hand, won just two games last season and have nowhere to go but up.

After the great season by the Rams, Jim McElwain left for the SEC and the Florida Gators. Replacing him is former Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. One of the biggest questions facing the Rams is whether Bobo can sustain the success McElwain had found in recent years.

Bobo has a history at Georgia of putting up big points and churning out top level talent, including Mathew Stafford, AJ Green and Aaron Murray. His offense last year ranked eighth in the nation in scoring, and they averaged more than 30 points a game against Top 25 teams.

The biggest question on that offense, however, is who is going to replace Garret Grayson? The senior quarterback was drafted in the third round of the NFL draft this year by the New Orleans Saints. The top two candidates are sophomore Nick Stevens, who threw 25 passes last year as Grayson’s backup, and freshman Coleman Key, who redshirted last year.

At this point it looks as if Stevens has the upper-hand, as he did play the majority of snaps with the first team offense during the spring game. A plus for either quarterback is getting to throw to returning All-American wide receiver Rashard Higgins. As a sophomore Higgins led the nation last year with 17 touchdowns, all with Grayson throwing him the ball.

Bobo wants to run up-tempo and the offense should score a lot of points, but will a quarterback emerge with the skills and leadership to fill the gaping hole left by Grayson, and can a rookie head coach lead this Mountain West team to a third straight bowl game for the first time since Sonny Lubick did it from 1999-2003? They are tough questions in the minds of the CSU faithful.

A little south along the Front Range, CU coach Mike MacIntyre enters his third season as the head coach of the Buffaloes and returns a majority of his players. The Buffs have been one of the youngest teams in the NCAA for the last three seasons and are now finally starting to see some growth as sophomores are becoming juniors and juniors are becoming seniors.

The defense returns nine of 11 starters from last year and will be under the tutelage of new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, who comes to the Buffs after being the head coach at South Florida and more recently the linebackers coach of the San Francisco 49ers. But the Buffs ranked 111th in total defense last year, so Leavitt has his work cut out for him.

The defense contributed to two double-overtime losses that were heartbreakers for CU last year, including one against UCLA, who finished the year No. 10 in the AP Poll.  On top of that, the Buffs lost three other games by five points or less. They were definitely an improved team last year but it didn’t result in wins. The biggest question facing them this year is can they continue to improve and turn some of those close games into wins?

One player that will help them make that next step is junior quarterback Sefo Liufau who returns for his third season as the starter. His growth will ultimately define the Buffs season. If he can take that next step, so will the Buffs. Liufau threw more interceptions than any other quarterback in the Pac-12 last season and will need to turn that around if the Buffs are to have any shot this year.

The Buffs have a favorable non-conference schedule, but will once again play in one of the toughest divisions in all of college football, the Pac-12 South. The Buffs get Oregon, Arizona, Stanford and USC at home which bodes well for them to at least make those games interesting.

The Buffs seem to have all the pieces in place, and are trending up, but can they take that next step? Will this be the year that CU finally breaks through in the PAC-12 and makes a bowl game for the first time since 2007, and wins a bowl for the first time since 2004?

Both CU and CSU have questions heading into the season this year. We are only 100 days away from the start of the regular season, when we may finally get some answers. With one trying to climb up and the other trying to stay the course, we will find out for sure who made the right moves in Denver on September 19th when the two teams face each other for the Centennial Cup in the 87th Rocky Mountain Showdown.

Scott Annis, a Mile High Sports intern and student at Colorado Media School, contributed to this report