FACTS & STATS: Site: Hughes Stadium (30,000) — Fort Collins, Colorado.
Television: CBSSN. Home Record: USU 3-0, CSU 2-0. Away Record: USU 1-2, CSU
2-1. Neutral Record: USU 0-0, CSU 1-0. Conference Record: USU 1-0, CSU 1-1.
Series Record: Colorado State leads, 36-32-2.
GAME NOTES: Colorado State settles into Hughes Stadium for the first of back-
to-back home games, as the Rams entertain the Utah State Aggies in Mountain
West Conference competition on Saturday night.
Since losing to Boise State on the road back on Sept. 6 by a score of 37-24,
the Rams have responded with four consecutive victories. The latest of those
triumphs balanced the scales for CSU in MWC play as it held on to defeat
Nevada last Saturday night in Reno, 31-24. With a win this week, the Rams
would become bowl eligible in the fewest number of games since 2000.
As for the Aggies, who are playing their first MWC road game of the season,
they’ve been able to rise above the fact that they have again lost star
quarterback Chuckie Keeton to injury and have still won two games in a row.
Last weekend, USU shut down a resurgent Air Force program in a 34-16 decision
The Rams enter this meeting with a 36-32-2 advantage in the all-time series,
although the squad was blanked by Utah State last year in Logan by a final of
Darell Garretson threw for 298 yards and two touchdowns, adding another score
on the ground, as the Utah State Aggies shot down the Air Force Falcons by 18
points at Romney Stadium last weekend.
Garretson converted 20-of-29 passes and survived four sacks, as the Aggies won
for the fourth time in the last five outings. Hunter Sharp registered 12
catches for 164 yards and two scores, all of which were game highs.
The defense for the Aggies wasn’t perfect by any means, but there were a few
highlights for the group, particularly Zach Vigil who registered a career-best
22 tackles, the most of any player at the FBS level this season. USU also
forced four turnovers, keeping the Air Force running attack off the field.
Able to settle down a vicious Air Force run game, the Aggies now find
themselves 13th in the nation in stopping opponents on the ground, allowing a
mere 103.7 ypg in that department. The secondary has shown some cracks
however, giving up 253.5 ypg through the air, 86th in the country this week.
The Vigil brothers, Zach and Nick, have taken control of the defense, logging
64 and 60 tackles, respectively, not to mention combining for 16.5 tackles for
loss and nine quarterback hurries. Frankie Sutera is also making a name for
himself now that he has four of the unit’s 11 interceptions.
On the other side of the ball, Garretson has appeared in four games and during
that time converted 66.4 percent of his passes with eight TDs and just two
INTs, numbers that are far better than what Keeton (two TDs, four INTs) was
producing in his three appearances. Sharp is clearly the top option in the
passing game with his 40 catches leading to 642 yards and five TDs.
Garrett Grayson threw for 326 yards, his second career 300-yard effort, and
three touchdowns as Colorado State held on to defeat the Nevada Wolf Pack by a
single touchdown at Mackay Stadium last Saturday night. Grayson converted 26-
of-36 passes and was sacked once, while Rashard Higgins was his favorite
target as the receiver reeled in 10 passes for a career-high 194 yards and two
scores. Doing his part on the ground, Dee Hart posted a game-high 90 yards and
scored once on 23 totes.
The Rams appeared to be on cruise control once they took a 31-10 advantage in
the third quarter, but letting their guard down gave Nevada an opportunity to
nearly come all the way back, as the hosts scored three unanswered touchdowns
in the second half.
Grayson now finds himself in third place on the school’s all-time list for
passing yards (7,007) and attempts (872), and is already second in career
passing TDs. The signal caller is averaging 303.8 ypg through the air this
season and has completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 16 TDs, against five
Higgins has turned himself into one of the more potent receivers in the nation
with 44 catches for 776 yards and a staggering 10 scores. But Higgins is not
the only option for the Rams down the field as there are five other players
with double-digit receptions to this point, one of those being Charles Lovett
who has turned 10 catches into 197 yards and two touchdowns.
With Grayson at the helm and Higgins stretching the field, the Rams currently
show a success rate of 48.8 percent on third down, which is 12th-best in the
country heading into play this week.
Both of these squads possess potent aerial attacks, but being at home and
having Higgins on their side makes it more likely that the Rams will come out
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Colorado State 27, Utah State 20