Wyoming (3-4) at Colorado State (6-1) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hughes Stadium (30,000) -- Fort Collins, Colorado. Television: ROOT Sports. Home Record: Wyoming 3-1, CSU 3-0. Away Record: Wyoming 0-3, CSU 2-1. Neutral Record: Wyoming 0-0, CSU 1-0. Conference Record: Wyoming 1-2, CSU 2-1. Series Record: Colorado State leads, 55-44-5.
GAME NOTES: Riding their longest single-season win streak in more than a decade, the Colorado State Rams saddle up to challenge the Wyoming Cowboys in the annual Border War this weekend at Hughes Stadium.
The Rams, who have won five straight decisions since losing to Boise State in the Mountain West Conference opener (37-24) back on Sept. 6, are bowl eligible after just seven games. The squad managed to survive against Utah State last Saturday by a score of 16-13 at home.
Colorado State, which has been playing football since 1893, now has a total of 495 victories.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys started out the 2014 campaign well enough with three wins through the first four games, but the team has since dropped three in a row. The latest setback came in overtime last Saturday as the squad bowed to San Jose State at home, 27-20.
Colorado State whipped up on the Pokes last season in Laramie, registering a 52-22 victory, pushing its lead in the all-time series to 55-44-5 as a result.
The Cowboys could have easily worked their way back into the win column last week, but after missing what could have been the game-winning field goal with only seconds remaining in regulation, the team ended up allowing a touchdown to San Jose State in overtime. Kicker Stuart Williams had made both of his earlier field goal attempts, but those were from only 19 and 36 yards away, the last chance was at a distance of 46 yards.
Quarterback Colby Kirkegaard converted just 11 of his 27 passes for 119 yards. Running back Shaun Wick not only ran for a game-high 97 net yards and scored once on the ground, he also caught a team-best four balls for another 27 yards in defeat.
Defensively, the Pokes were given a boost by Blair Burns who returned a fumble 63 yards for a score, accounting for the only points of the third quarter. Burns, who had six tackles, was also credited with a forced fumble, as was Eddie Yarbrough who posted 3.5 tackles for loss and the only two sacks of the outing for Wyoming.
Unfortunately for Wyoming, sacks have been extremely hard to come by this season. The unit as a whole has but six through seven games, compared to 28 for the competition. The other area in which the Pokes are lacking is in pass defense, or more specifically, interceptions. Already midway through the campaign, Wyoming is the only FBS school yet to pick off a pass, and still the team is a respectable minus-0.14 in turnovers per contest.
Kirkegaard is a serviceable passer these days, converting 56.9 percent of his attempts for seven TDs, but also six INTs. Dominic Rufran continues to be his favorite target, something all defenses already know, resulting in 27 catches for 402 yards, but the receiver has yet to make his way into the end zone.
Wick is holding his own in the rushing attack, averaging 101.0 ypg and he has scored five TDs while averaging 6.4 yards per carry.
Despite their lowest point total of the season, the Rams still came out on top against Utah State last weekend, partly due to the fact that the CSU defense knocked out quarterback Darrell Garretson and was able to handle yet another backup USU signal caller.
Garrett Grayson, who had to pick himself up off the turf following eight sacks, did convert 20-of-31 passes for 243 yards, but he failed to get any of his completions into the end zone. Instead, it was running back Dee Hart with 60 yards and a TD on 12 carries, while kicker Jared Roberts converted three of his four field goal tries.
Grayson, now with five career fourth-quarter comebacks, is also now the all- time leading passer in terms of yardage in Colorado State history, his 7,250 yards surpassing the 7,142 yards generated by Kelly Stouffer almost three decades ago. The signal caller has completed 63.4 percent of his attempts for 295.1 ypg and a total of 16 TDs, against only five INTs.
Providing the greatest outlet for Grayson is wide receiver Rashard Higgins, who is among the nation's best with 54 catches for 963 yards and 10 touchdowns.
While Higgins attacks down the field, Hart has become a solid contributor in the run game with 6.3 yards per attempt and a total of 603 yards and six TDs on the season.
While Grayson, Higgins and Hart take care of the offense for the Rams, Aaron Davis leads the charge on the other side of the ball with his team-best 64 tackles. Although he is much further down on the total tackles list with just 25, Joe Kawulok leads the unit with 3.5 sacks and has one of its blocked kicks as well. However, what the Rams do not have is a recovered fumble by a defensive player at this stage of the campaign.
Capable of attacking opponents both on the ground and through the air, the Rams have become a tough team to slow down these days. CSU may not be a dominant beast in any one particular area, but when you add all the pieces together it is clear that the Rams are a tough out in the MWC this season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Colorado State 37, Wyoming 17Game Date and Time
Saturday, October 25, 7 p.m. (ET).