Credit the Colorado State Rams. If they’re going to christen their new on-campus stadium with a win, they’ll be doing it against a quality opponent. The Rams purposefully moved up their matchup with Pac-12 foe Oregon State this year to “Zero Week” in order to face a Power 5 team to open Sonny Lubick Field at Colorado State Stadium.

This is not Abilene Christian, who was originally scheduled to open the stadium. This is an OSU team on the rise, one Yogi Roth of Pac-12 Network believes will be vying for a bowl bid come December.

“The last time we saw the Beavers, they won the Civil War and continue to claim they are the state champs in the state Oregon – and rightfully so. Now it’s 2017, and what are they up against? Well, I think big-time expectations,” Roth said in his preview of this game for Pac-12 Network.

“I fully expect this team to go to a bowl game, but it starts in a very tough environment against Colorado State.”

The Rams will carry all the momentum into this game as they open their new stadium, and Roth and the Beavers are well aware.

“Colorado State has a brand new stadium, and it’s the first time in 50 years they’ve had a game on campus so you can imagine that over 41,000 fans will be completely lit for this ballgame,” he said.

The Beavers are coming off a 4-8 (3-6) 2016 season, and they remain winless on the road since head coach Gary Andersen took the reins in 2015. Now in his third year, Andersen is putting together a roster he believes can compete in the Pac-12 and knock off stiffer non-conference competition like Colorado State

“Now, when you talk to Gary Andersen he said you need a couple things to win in the Pac-12 Conference. You need a quarterback. You need a running back who can dominate. And you need a defensive line with depth and a lockdown corner. I think they have all of those things,” Roth says.

Transfers will play a big role for OSU this season, starting with the most important position on the field.

“At quarterback it’s a new QB in transfer Jake Luton,” Roth says. “[At] 6-foot-7, 234 pounds, I think he has all the catalog of throws necessary in his toolbox to win in the Pac-12 Conference.”

A pair of transfers and a stalwart from last season will test the Rams’ run defense.

“At running back, you know him. It’s the ‘Wrecking Nall,’ Ryan Nall. All he did last year was average five yards after contact according to PFF college – good enough for second of any running back in the Pac-12 Conference. And this position has depth,” Roth says. “Transfer Thomas Tyner, sophomore Artavis Pierce and TCU transfer Tre Johnson all will impact this backfield.”

Colorado State is young at cornerback behind seniors Kevin Nutt Jr. and Shun Johnson, so defending OSU’s threats out wide could be a challenge.

“At wide receiver they’re finally going to have explosive plays,” Roth says of the Beavers. “Jordan Villamin, 6-[foot]-5, 222 [pounds]. He’s finally healthy and playing at the highest level he has in his entire career. I was on campus a week ago and saw true freshman Isaiah Hodgins, another receiver. He’s over 6-foot-4. They’re finally gonna create those plays downfield that are necessary to win big games like this. Because this team has not won a road game in the Gary Andersen era.”

That’s going to create a sense of urgency for Oregon State in what is undoubtedly a very important game for the Rams.

“Bottom line, the atmosphere will be electric. It will not be easy, but the Beavers, if they want to go bowling, they need this win to get going, on the road to kick off 2017.”

Kickoff is 12 noon MDT on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on CBS Sports and carried in Denver on Mile High Sports AM 1340 | FM 104.7.