Colorado State (1-5) at San Diego State (3-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 13, 6:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Qualcomm Stadium (54.000) -- San Diego, California. Television: Time Warner Cable. Home Record: CSU 0-3, SDSU 3-1. Away Record: CSU 0-2, SDSU 0-2. Neutral Record: CSU 1-0, SDSU 0-0. Conference Record: CSU 0-2, SDSU 1-1. Series Record: San Diego State leads, 18-13.
GAME NOTES: Tied for the third-longest losing streak in the nation, the Colorado State Rams try to get back on track this weekend as they pay a visit to the San Diego State Aztecs for a Mountain West Conference bout at Qualcomm Stadium.
Since defeating Colorado in Denver in the season opener, the Rams have dropped five straight decisions and all have been by double digits. Last weekend, the team was thumped by one of the newest additions to the MWC, Fresno State, in a 28-7 final at home in Fort Collins. CSU has bowed in the first two conference games of the season after also losing to Air Force, 42-21, in late September.
As for the Aztecs, they evened their season mark at 3-3 last week with a 52-14 pummeling of Hawaii at home, marking the fifth straight game in which the program has scored at least 34 points. However, a closer look inside the numbers shows that one of those three wins came against a North Dakota team that doesn't compete at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, and the other two triumphs came against Hawaii and Army squads that are a combined 2-8 heading into play this week.
San Diego State, which won last year's meeting by a narrow 18-15 score, now holds an 18-13 advantage in the all-time series with Colorado State.
If the Rams thought the season could eventually get better, they have to consider the fact that their starting quarterback Garrett Grayson has already been lost to injury, and M.J. McPeek is probably in over his head at the moment. Last week, McPeek converted 15-of-29 passes for 192 yards and a touchdown, but he was also sacked four times. The scoring pass didn't come until the final minute of the fourth quarter, at which point Fresno State was simply sitting back and trying to run out the clock.
Getting hit too many times in the pocket has kept CSU quarterbacks from being able to guide the Rams to the win column all that much the last few years. In 2011 the team finished just 3-9, riding and eight-game slide as former signal- caller Pete Thomas suffered countless hits as the team ranked 106th in the nation with close to three sacks per game allowed.
Thomas decided to transfer which means Grayson, and now McPeek is at the mercy of the offensive line and it hasn't gotten any better. In fact, the group is now ranked 117th with 3.67 sacks per game permitted and with that kind of heavy hitting going on there's a chance McPeek won't be able to see his way through November either.
Unfortunately, the team hasn't shown much in the way of running the ball either, producing just 96.2 ypg which is last in the conference and 114th in the nation this week. After running for 1,130 yards and nine touchdowns a year ago, Chris Nwoke is perhaps the best option coming out of the backfield, but he's missed a couple of games already and has yet to reach the end zone on any of his 42 carries.
Defensively, the Rams don't have much to write home about as they allow 214.3 ypg on the ground which is 108th in the country. The pass defense is more respectable, giving up 209.5 ypg, but keep in mind the team has already played against an Air Force team that averages just 112.0 ypg through the air and completed a mere two passes for 57 yards versus CSU to begin with.
As the Rams try to figure out how to survive with a backup quarterback and a porous offensive line, the Aztecs have found their quarterback in Ryan Katz. The MWC Co-Offensive Player of the Week, Katz was electric against Hawaii at home as he not only completed 15-of-29 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns, he also ran the ball 10 times for 57 yards and three more scores in the blowout win.
Not to be overlooked was the defense for SDSU as it limited the Warriors to a mere 173 yards of total offense. The Aztecs recovered three fumbles in the triumph which has helped the unit reach 29th in the nation in turnover margin with a plus-0.67 per game.
The pass defense has been a bit suspect overall through six games, giving up 274.0 ypg (101st nationally) and that includes a meeting with Army during which the Black Knights completed only three passes for 50 yards and were intercepted twice. Obviously the Aztecs need to bolster their efforts in the secondary and perhaps commit more to defending the pass and drop back a bit, seeing as how they are already solid in stopping the run (115.2 ypg allowed).
Given that the Rams are trying to break in a new quarterback behind a line that will be putting McPeek in harm's way, expect to see San Diego State exploit that and take the win rather easily this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Diego State 45, Colorado State 20
10/10 10:33:06 ET