DENVER - SEPTEMBER 04: Quarterback Pete Thomas #4 of the Colorado State Rams looks to the bench for signals against the Colorado Buffaloes during the the Rocky Mountain Showdown at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 4 2010 in Denver Colorado. Colorado was awarded the Centenial Trophy after they defeated Colorado State 24-3. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Mountain West conference play begins for Boise State on Saturday (4:00 p.m. MT, The Mtn.) with a trip to Colorado State, the LaTech of the Mountain West. How will Boise State fare? Who plays Tim Rattay in this alternate reality? What are some classic Colorado stereotypes I can throw around? Lots of questions, some answers, after the jump. Feel free to share your comments on this matchup, too.
No. 5 Boise State vs. Colorado State
- When to watch: Saturday, October 15, 4:00 p.m. MT kickoff
- Where to watch: Hughes Stadium, Fort Collins, Colo. (Capacity: 32,500)
- How to watch: Live on The Mtn with Bill Doleman, Todd Christensen, and Roger Bailey
- How to find The Mtn: CableOne channel 329, DirecTV channel 616, and Dish Network channel Buffalo Wild Wings (i.e., not available on Dish Network)
- What to wager: Boise State by 32 points, combined score over/under 54 points
- What to wear: Forecast calls for partly cloudy skies, high of 79, no chance of precipitation
Keys to the game
For a 3-2 team with bowl aspirations, Colorado State does few things exceedingly well. One of those few things is pass defense. The Rams rank No. 12 in the country, allowing 176 yards per game, and they'll be facing a Boise State passing attack that averages 298 per game. Something has to give in the passing game. I imagine that the giving will be done by the pass defense that has faced San Jose State, Northern Colorado, and New Mexico this season and not the pass offense that is led by patron saint of passing, Kellen Moore.
Speaking of the passing game, Colorado State's best player on offense is sophomore QB Pete Thomas. He completes 67 percent of his passes, which is nice to write home about but not what it takes to beat the Boise State defense. Yards-per-attempt will be Thomas's glory or his doom. If he can pull three or four big plays out of his hat, the Ram offense might show some fight. If nothing else, it would help with field position, which Boise State has owned so far this season.
Looking at the matchups and consulting the homer voice in my head, I have a hard time seeing anything other than a blowout for Boise State. The Broncos are too good. But just to keep us all on edge, there is the Mountain West factor, the one that Coach Pete has been preaching all season. A new conference and new opponents, according to Petersen, add a level of difficulty to the schedule. Just how daunting of a level and how much difficulty remains to be seen. I'm thinking a Kirby's Dream Land level myself.
Miscellaneous keys for Boise State
- Gain yards on first and second downs. The Broncos have lived and died (but mostly lived) on third and longs far too often this season.
- Win the turnover battle. /obligatory mention
- Score touchdowns instead of field goals. Even more important than usual, considering I'm not sure BSU can make field goals.
- Tackle. Colorado State does not have the skill players to match Fresno State or Nevada. That said, anyone can look skilled when you bounce off of them like they're made of trampoline.
- Catch the ball. When a team relies on the pass as much as Boise State does, dropped passes can be killers or they can postpone the inevitable march to a 50-burger.
Miscellaneous keys for Colorado State
- Get Pete Thomas in a rhythm. I suggest remixed Ben Folds music.
- Win the turnover battle. /obligatory mention
- Linebacker play. Nevada had a pair of linebackers who were all over the field against Boise State. Colorado State has one (Mike Orakpo).
- Pressure Kellen Moore. The Rams have been very good at pressuring the quarterback (DE Nordly Capi leads the nation with eight sacks), but the quarterbacks they've been pressuring are, how do you say, nubs. Kellen Moore will be much tougher to bring down or even two-hand touch.
- Forget the run. If I were in CSU head coach Steve Fairchild's shoes (and there are plenty of reasons why I'm not), I would come out passing and only use the run as a surprise every now and then. Better teams have tried and failed to run against Boise State. So why bother trying? Note: not a good lesson for your kids.
Other things that may matter
- Field position. Boise State has yet to draw the short end of the stick in the field position game so far this season, so you have to wonder if it's just a matter of time. And how would the Broncos respond if they weren't starting every drive on the 50? How many more hundreds of yards would Kellen Moore pass for?
- White out. The Rams and their fans will wear white on Saturday (after Labor Day!), and no doubt everyone there will be excited to host the No. 5 team in the country. Boise State has been the big ticket in town before, so it won't be anything new. Still, neutralizing the crowd early could be a factor.
What are your keys to the game for Boise State and Colorado State? Do you think the Rams have a chance to hang with the Broncos? What will be key for each team? Share your thoughts in the comments.