Colorado State (2-6) at Wyoming (1-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 3, 4:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: War Memorial Stadium (29,181) -- Laramie, Wyoming. Television: Local. Home Record: CSU 1-3, Wyoming 0-4. Away Record: CSU 0-3, Wyoming 1-3. Neutral Record: CSU 1-0, Wyoming 0-0. Conference Record: CSU 1-3, Wyoming 0-4. Series Record: Colorado State leads, 54-43-5.
GAME NOTES: The 104th Border War between the Wyoming Cowboys and the Colorado State Rams takes place this Saturday, as the two Mountain West Conference foes collide at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.
Certainly both of these programs expected to be much better off at this point in the campaign, but the fact is they've combined for a mere three victories in 16 opportunities. The Pokes are the worst off at the moment with just one win, that coming against Idaho on the road in overtime more than a month ago.
Most recently the Cowboys hosted nationally-ranked Boise State and was crushed by the Broncos in a 45-14 final. The defeat was the fourth in a row and also left Wyoming winless in league action, matching Hawaii for the level of ineptitude in MWC play thus far.
Meanwhile, the Rams were also suffering through a lengthy drought that saw them drop six straight decisions after opening 2012 with a 22-17 win over Colorado in Denver. On Saturday the team hosted a well-rested Hawaii group and managed to deliver a 42-27 victory as they registered their highest scoring effort of the campaign by matching their combined output for the previous three outings.
The Pokes won last season's meeting, 22-19, but overall the Rams are still in control of the series by a count of 54-43-5.
Ahead by just a single point heading into the fourth quarter in a chilly Fort Collins, the Rams defense went to work as both DeAndre Elliott and Jasen Oden returned interceptions for touchdowns to give CSU a more comfortable double- digit win. The two defensive scores served to offset the fumble return for a touchdown that started off the game's scoring for the Warriors early in the first quarter.
Overall the Rams picked off three Hawaii passes and registered four sacks, not to mention coming up with a couple of fumble recoveries of their own. Elliott had two picks and Lanston Tanyi 2.5 sacks to go along with three quarterback hurries.
Conner Smith converted 10-of-17 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown for CSU, but was also guilty of two INTs. More impressive was running back Chris Nwoke who not only ran for 115 yards and a score, he also hit the end zone on his one reception.
At least for this season, the CSU offense has been slow to warm up coming out of the locker room, scoring just a combined 44 points in both the first and fourth quarters. The team is obviously struggling at quarterback where they are down to their third-stringer after both Garrett Grayson and M.J. McPeek were injured. The jury is still out on Smith and what he might be able to accomplish in these final weeks, but it doesn't look good given how poorly the entire unit has performed to this point.
Averaging just 109.3 ypg on the ground, the Rams are last in the conference and 110th in the nation and that lackluster effort has a lot to do with the group scoring just 19.0 ppg (last in the MWC and 110th in the country).
Outside of the effort against Hawaii, another team that is struggling in a big way this season, the Rams are tied for 80th in the nation in turnover margin with minus-0.38 per outing and they are 111th in tackles for loss (4.38 per game).
Against mighty Boise State, Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith moved to ninth place on the school's all-time passing list, but that was perhaps the only good news for the Pokes as they disappeared in the third quarter. Smith finished the meeting 24-of-35 for 216 yards, but was sacked four times and was unable to get a pass into the end zone.
From a runner's perspective, Smith did cross the goal line twice, but because of those takedowns in the backfield he was left with just nine net rushing yards, the team 54 overall.
Defensively, the Cowboys allowed BSU to score on all five opportunities in the red zone and all but gave up on third down as the Broncos converted 12-of-14 in that department.
The first half has been disastrous for the Cowboys so far this year, the team giving up a combined 162 points through the first 30 minutes. Eventually, all of that activity has led to 35.3 ppg allowed which is second-most in the league and 105th in the country. Unable to apply much pressure at the line of scrimmage, the Pokes are 102nd in the country with only 4.63 TFLs per game and 104th with 1.25 sacks per outing.
Far from an offensive juggernaut, Colorado State played well enough to take down the Warriors, but a lot of that had to do with the defense and this might be an opportunity for Smith to show what he is capable of with the Wyoming offense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wyoming 27, Colorado State 24
10/31 10:37:47 ET