Colorado State (1-3) at Air Force (1-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 2:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Falcon Stadium (52,480) -- USAFA, Colorado. Television: Altitude. Home Record: Colorado St. 0-2, Air Force 1-0. Away Record: Colorado St. 0-1, Air Force 0-2. Neutral Record: Colorado St. 1-0, Air Force 0-0. Conference Record: Colorado St. 0-0, Air Force 0-0. Series Record: Air Force leads, 30-19-1.
GAME NOTES: A pair of one-win teams attempt to turn their seasons around as they kick off Mountain West Conference action on Saturday afternoon when the Air Force Falcons play host to the Colorado State Rams.
Colorado State claimed intrastate bragging rights to start the season with a neutral-site wins over Colorado, 22-17, but since then it has lost three straight games to North Dakota State (22-7), San Jose State (40-20) and Utah State (31-19). Losses in three of its first four games comes on the heels of an eight-game losing streak to close out the 2011 campaign.
For the first time since a 49-21 win versus Idaho State on opening day, Air Force returns home. The team is happy to be back in Colorado after dropping a pair of tight road games at Michigan (31-25) and UNLV (38-25). The Falcons have performed well at home during the Troy Calhoun era, winning 24 of 30 games there since 2007.
Air Force holds a 30-19-1 advantage in the all-time series with Colorado State, which includes wins in the last six matchups.
The Colorado State offense hasn't gotten much going this season, scoring 17 ppg on less than 315 total yards per game. It also has one of the worst third down conversion rates in the country (18-of-56, 32 percent).
Garrett Grayson has taken every snap for the Rams, throwing for 865 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions, but he has also been sacked 17 times. He is coming off a 224-yard, two-touchdown performance against Utah State, but he completed just 22-of-40 passes in the setback.
The running game hasn't taken off yet, with the team averaging just 3.1 yards per carry while punching in just one score. Donnell Alexander is the leading rusher with 148 yards.
Charles Lovett leads the club in catches (14) and receiving yards (191). Kivon Cartwright has 12 grabs for 127 yards, but no other receiver has more than eight catches through four games.
The CSU defense (27.5 ppg, 404.8 ypg) is highlighted by a handful of players making an early case for All-MWC honors.
Corey James has been a menace in the backfield, recording five sacks already, just one and a half behind the FBS leaders. Aaron Davis and Shaquil Barrett each have 30 tackles, with Barrett adding two sacks of his own. Lanston Tanyi (25 tackles) has a pair of fumble recoveries.
The Air Force offense has not only been potent (36.3 ppg), but also quite careful with the football, committing just one turnover through three games.
The Falcons have built a reputation as a run-heavy offensive team and this season has been no different, as they currently rank second in the nation behind Army in rushing offense (375.3 ypg). Although seven players have double-digit carries, Cody Getz has been the unit's primary back with 461 yards and seven touchdowns, both figures ranking him among the FBS leaders.
Quarterback Connor Dietz's primary job is to get the ball to his backs or to take off and run himself (36 carries, 203 yards, three touchdowns), although he has completed 21-of-39 passes for 359 yards. He has yet to take a sack.
Ty MacArthur is used sparingly in the receiving game to mix things up, which has resulted in a handful of big plays (eight receptions, 192 yards).
The Air Force defense has not been up to snuff, allowing 30 ppg while letting opponents convert on nearly 60 percent of their third-down opportunities.
The unit has made three interceptions to help give the Falcons a +2 turnover margin. Austin Niklas has 27 tackles and two tackles for loss, both team highs.
It's too early in the season to call this a make-or-break game necessarily, but whoever loses this game will have a big hole to dig out of if it wants to become bowl-eligible at some point. Colorado State's offense has shown very little so far, and coming into hostile territory, it is going to have its hands full. Expect the Falcons to run all over the Rams.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Air Force 38, Colorado 23
09/26 10:33:34 ET