(CSU’s Caleb Hanie, preparing to peak way too early)

While tomorrow’s college football kickoff in my adopted hometown will feature what one colleague accurately described as a big pep rally (albeit one with a $60 price tag), the Denver Post’s John Henderson would prefer to start the campaign with something other than a hot local derby.

After 17 years in this state, I still find Saturday’s Colorado-Colorado State season opener one really lousy idea. Obviously, I’m not the only one. Look around the country and what is unique about this rivalry?

Well, besides the fact it’s the only traditional nonconference rivalry this year that pits two lousy teams, it’s also the only one that traditionally opens the season. Look around. Army-Navy. Clemson-South Carolina. Florida-Florida State. Georgia-Georgia Tech. Virginia-Virginia Tech.

Every one plays in the regular-season finale. It’s when these rivalries should be played. Give the venom three months and 11 games to fester into a boil. Provide a carrot that tastes like chateaubriand after a win to salvage a losing season. Put it in standard time, in late November, when darkness envelops the stadium as the seniors walk off a field for the last time.

Instead, Colorado and CSU play at 10 a.m. After the game, the players could have lunch.

Some schools found a clue. Iowa and Iowa State opened the season in the 1980s, but now it’s always the second or third game. Louisville and Kentucky traditionally opened the season, but when Rich Brooks arrived at Kentucky in 2003 he found the first opportunity he could and, starting this year, moved his home game with Louisville to later in September.

Yeah, I know why the Buffaloes and Rams play when they play. Both schools are chasing the dollar at 76,000-seat Invesco Field at Mile High. It’s a grand venue, of course. Totally neutral, and it has 25,000 seats more than Folsom Field and 40,000 more than Hughes Stadium. Once the NFL season begins, it’s tough to slip in a college game.

Also, let’s face it. Colorado does have a traditional rival at the end of the year. As former Buffs quarterback Mike Moschetti told me Wednesday: “Colorado State, our in-state rival, was not the game I came to Colorado for. When I got to Colorado, Nebraska was all anybody talked about.”