Tulsa (1-3) at Colorado State (3-1) (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Hughes Stadium (30,000) — Fort Collins, Colorado.
Television: Mountain West Network. Home Record: Tulsa 1-2, CSU 1-0. Away
Record: Tulsa 0-1, CSU 1-1. Neutral Record: Tulsa 0-0, CSU 1-0. Conference
Record: Tulsa 1-0, CSU 0-1. Series Record: Tulsa leads, 5-3.

GAME NOTES: Colorado State plays in front of the hometown fans for just the
second time this season, as the Rams play their final non-conference game of
the regular-season this Saturday versus the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

The Rams, who play in the Mountain West Conference, have lost just once
through the first four games, bowing to league foe Boise State the first week
of September by a score of 37-24 in Idaho. Since then, the squad has rebounded
with a pair of victories, the most recent of those coming against Boston
College in Chestnut Hill last weekend, 24-21.

While CSU is off to a very positive start with three wins in four tries, Tulsa
has not been so lucky. In fact, since slipping by Tulane in the season opener,
38-31, and needing a pair of overtimes to do so, the Golden Hurricane has
fallen in three straight outings. In addition to being crushed by both
Oklahoma (52-7) and Florida Atlantic (50-21), the team went to three overtimes
versus Texas State last Saturday before succumbing in a 37-34 final.

According to CSU sources, the Golden Hurricane lead the all-time series
between the two programs by a 5-3 margin, thanks in part to a 30-27 victory
last season in Oklahoma.

Trailing by a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Tulsa came all the way
back to tie the game with Texas State and then play into three overtimes, but
the hosts were just delaying the inevitable. Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans
threw a pair of touchdowns and ran for a third, completing 23-of-40 passes for
234 yards, but he was also sacked four times and tossed an interception.

Keevan Lucas hauled in a game-high nine passes for 67 yards and a score, while
Keyarris Garrett caught eight balls for a game-best 117 yards, but was kept
out of the end zone. On the ground, it was James Flanders who did the bulk of
the damage as he rushed for 112 yards on 21 carries, followed by Zack Langer
with 20 attempts for 82 yards and a TD.

While the Tulsa defense held the Bobcats to just 5-of-16 on third-down plays,
the unit did permit the visitors to convert both fourth-down tries and failed
to register a single turnover although Derrick Alexander, who had one of the
team’s two sacks, did force a fumble, but it did not turn into a Tulsa
possession.

After four games, Tulsa has shown an inability to force turnovers in general,
ranking 120th in the country in turnover margin with a minus-2.0. While
opponents have picked off eight passes, the Golden Hurricane has just one INT
to show for its efforts, thanks to DeMarco Nelson. The group has just a single
fumble recovery as well, stemming from four forced fumbles.

On the offensive side, Tulsa has been a slow starter thus far, failing to
score a single point in the first quarter, while being outscored by a combined
92-21 at the half. Part of the problem has been the play of Evans who, while
throwing for a solid 286.2 ypg, has almost as many INTs (seven) as TDs
(eight). However, more than holding up his end of the deal is Lucas, who is
one of the top receivers in the country with 37 catches for 439 yards and five
scores.

It certainly wasn’t easy, as the Rams had to come from behind to defeat Boston
College last weekend, but the three-point victory marked the third straight
for CSU over a school from one of the five power conferences, and pushed the
Rams to nine wins in their last 12 games dating back to last season. While for
some teams that doesn’t sound like a major accomplishment, it happens to be
the most success over a 12-game stretch for the Rams since 2002, when the
squad was 10-2.

Garrett Grayson helped to deliver the latest win as he converted 27-of-41
passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns, but at the same time he was also
sacked twice and had two passes intercepted. Rashard Higgins again showed why
he has to be considered one of the top receivers in the MWC as he caught nine
balls for 98 yards and a score.

Dee Hart made a huge impression coming out of the backfield as he registered
117 yards on just 10 carries, while Treyous Jarrells took one of his eight
totes into the end zone. Hart, with his receiving and return yardage factored
in, finished with 207 all-purpose yards.

Hart has been a huge addition to the CSU offense, coming over from Alabama
where he was used almost primarily on special teams. With eligibility still
remaining, Hart is first on the team in all-purpose yards through four games
with 490, while Higgins checks in with 404 yards, all on receptions.

Grayson has completed 60.8 percent of his passes, leading to 10 TDs, and has
the passing attack generating 322.0 ypg, which is 18th in the country entering
the week.

If there is one glaring area that needs attention, it is the Rams’ inability
to slow down opposing runners. On the average, foes have put up 219.0 ypg on
the ground, and that has CSU tied for 104th in the nation at the moment.
Unable to take down powerful runners and separate those players from the ball,
the Rams are also hurting themselves with minus-1.0 turnovers per game.

As long as the Rams can jump on top early, something that seems to be
happening on a regular basis against Tulsa, the hosts should have an easy time
of it this weekend.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Colorado State 31, Tulsa 17