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Ram Tough: Boise State vs Colorado State game preview

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NCAA Football: Colorado State at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Game facts

  • Time: Saturday, November 11, 8:30pm (MT)
  • Location: CSU Stadium
  • Weather at kickoff: 38° clear
  • Odds: Boise State by 6
  • TV: CBS Sports
  • Radio: KBOI 670 AM
  • Commentators: Rich “Viennese” Waltz, David “Big” Diehl, and Jenny “Deli” Dell

Other facts

1. Reeling Rams

At one point, Colorado State was the trendy pick for the Group of Five NY6 bid and considered by many to be the top team in the division (even though Boise State was picked to win it by the media). They certainly still look like a tough out, but after dropping their last two games (to Air Force and Wyoming, respectively), the Rams are in a do or die situation in the Mountain. A cornered Ram could put up a big fight or it could die. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of effort Mike Bobo can get out of his team now that a few of their hopes have been dashed.

2. Perfection

Boise State is not only perfect in conference play with arguably 3 of their toughest games remaining—they’ve never lost to CSU at home or on the road and have won by an average of 31 points in Fort Collins. Of course, the Rams are breaking in a brand new stadium so it’s incumbent upon the Broncos to mark their territory.

3. Gallup poll

The Broncos defense has been fantastic in conference play this season, allowing no more than 14 points per contest. We say it each week, but the secondary will ACTUALLY face a very tough test this weekend against the Ram passing attack, which features the nation’s 10th ranked passer (yardage-wise), Nick Stevens AND the nation’s top receiver, Michael Gallup, who’s already flirting with 1,200 receiving yards on the year with a few games to go.

4. Always and forever

Streaks

Boise State - Won 5

Colorado State - Lost 2

Streams

Best name on their roster

Might belong to senior cornerback Shun Johnson

Best player picture on their roster

Junior O-lineman Tyler Bjorklünd is the Viking wizard we all deserve

Players to watch

Nick Stevens

The senior signal-caller is having a great final season with the Rams after finishing strong in 2016 (he lost his starting gig the first part of last year). So far this season, Stevens has thrown for 2,865 yards, 22 TDs and 9 INTs and will try to pad those TD stats against the Broncos if he wants his Rams to win. I assume he does.

Michael Gallup

The recipient of most of Stevens’ passes is fellow senior Michael Gallup...who as I mentioned before is leading the country in receiving yards with 1,196 (and 5 TDs). At 6’1” and 200 lbs, Gallup isn’t necessarily built like Calvin Johnson...but he knows how to get open and make plays. A ray of light for the Broncos? He hasn’t done a ton of damage against good defenses. He had just 4 grabs for 29 yards a week ago against Wyoming...although that game was played inside a commemorative snow globe. The BSU D will need to be on their best behavior.

Dalyn Dawkins

The Rams have a 1,000+ yard receiver and a 1,000+ yard rusher...that’s what I call balance. This senior ball-carrier isn't very big...at just 5'9" 185 lbs, but he's been rushing for an average of 6.6 YPC this season and helps set up the Ram passing attack with his solid running. Like with Gallup, there's a silver-lining for the Broncos in that Dawkins hasn't gashed the really good rushing defenses...and I'd consider the Broncos one of those (Nevada's Kelton Moore was the first opposing rusher this season to run for over 100 yards on the Broncos). With the way the Broncos shut down Rashaad Penny, it's hard to get TOO worked up about any other in-conference RBs.

Jake Bennett

Noticing a pattern with all these senior Ram contributors. This senior happens to be a decorated O-lineman for Colorado State—Jake Bennett. Bennett was a preseason RImington Trophy Watch-lister and was a 2nd team all-conference performer last season. He’s started all 10 games for the Rams this season, blocking for a Ram offense that ranks 16th in the country in yards per game. Maybe most impressive, Bennett helped anchor a line that didn’t give up a single sack to Alabama when they played back in September.

Evan Colorito

You say “Colorado”, he says “Colorito”—let’s call the whole thing off. Colorito, a...you guessed it...senior LB for the Rams is just 9th on the team in tackles (27), but he makes them count...with 7 of them being for a loss. Colorito has also added 2.5 sacks to his stat sheet, which also isn’t too shabby.

Josh Watson

The junior LB (what?) leads the Rams defense in tackles, with 84 (3 for loss) and also has an INT, a forced fumble, and 6 pass break-ups to his credit. If you see Watson in the gap, best to take the advice of the knights of Camelot:

Players NOT to watch

Second-leading rusher Izzy Matthews went down last week with a collarbone injury and the Rams probably wish they still had the services of 2016 All-MWC picks Fred Zerblis (OL), punter Hayden Hunt, and LB Kevin Davis .

Keys to victory

  • Disrupt. The Broncos probably won’t be able to rely on Curtis Weaver and Jabril Frazier continuing their sack streak...but they can be disruptive in other ways...clogging passing lanes, hurrying the QB etc. They just need to disrupt the Rams offense to throw them out of sync.
  • Play disciplined football on defense. This key comes up a lot...but with a Rams team that rushes and passes as well as they do, every man on D needs to do his job...only his job.
  • Win the field position battle. Huge key week in and week out for the Broncos. It would behoove us to continue to focus on it.
  • Bombs away. Rypien has been throwing well lately and this Ram defense hasn’t exactly been lockdown performers in the secondary. Find Ced Wilson early and often and let loose.
  • Don't lose. It’s worked in 5 straight games and I’m a little superstitious.

Score prediction

Despite Colorado State slipping a bit in the last couple of weeks, this—to me, is still THE pivotal game remaining on BSU’s schedule. Win it, and I feel the Broncos are in the driver’s seat for a title game appearance.

Boise State 32, Colorado State 23