Colorado State vs. San Diego State preview: Can Rams pull off the upset?

The 1 - 5 Rams hope to prove something to the 3 - 3 Aztecs this weekend in San Diego. A loss for the Rams all but eliminates the underachieving squad coached by Jim McElwain. A win keeps them alive but the Aztecs hope to use the punchless Rams as a stepping stone to only needing two games for a potential bowl bid in their last year in the Mountain West conference.

GAME: Colorado State Rams at San Diego State Aztecs
WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
DATE/TIME: Sat., Oct. 13, 2012, 3:45 p.m. PT, 4:45 p.m. MT
TV: KTVD-20 (Colorado), Time Warner Cable SportsNet; KOGO 95.7 FM & AM 600 (California), AM 560 - Rams Radio Network

Here are the basics:

CONFERENCE: Mountain West
WEB SITE: CSU: http://www.csurams.com/sports/m-footbl/csu-m-footbl-body.html, SDSU: http://goaztecs.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/sdsu-m-footbl-body.html
2012 SEASON: SDSU (3 - 3) (1 - 1) @ Washington L 21 - 12, vs Army W 42 - 7, vs North Dakota W 47 - 41, vs SJSU L 38 - 34, @ Fresno State L 52 - 40, vs Hawaii W 52 - 14. CSU (1 - 5) (0 - 2) (RMSD in Denver) University of Colorado W 22 - 17, vs NDSU L 22 - 7, @ SJSU L 40 - 20, vs. USU L 31 - 19, @ AFA L 42 - 21, vs Fresno State L 28 - 7.

KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: After the loss of Garrett Grayson with a broken left clavicle, the CSU Rams have been under the guidance of 5th year senior MJ McPeek. McPeek hadn't started a game since 2007 and is still looking to make an impression. The CSU Rams are 115th out of 120 FBS teams with their 16 points per game average, with their opponents averaging 30. Offensive coordinator, recently moved from USU to CSU, Dave Baldwin explains that he knew CSU would have issues on offense back in spring. The problem has not been, as Baldwin explains, that the players are too slow, but rather that the CSU coaching staff has not been able to figure out what the players do well, make an offensive game plan that highlights that and is somewhat different, as to not let defenses know what they plan to do before they do it. One good piece of news is that Chris Nwoke is beginning to heal and could be ready to finally break out. With injuries to both him and freshman Donnell Alexander, the Ram's rushing attack has been anemic at best.

In this 32nd meeting between the Aztecs and Rams, one would have to think that the Aztecs have the upper hand. Last week against another struggling team, SDSU went up on the University of Hawaii Warriors 21 - 0 on the way to a 52 - 14 whipping in front of the home town crowd in San Diego. SDSU, unlike the Rams, doesn't seen to have a problem scoring or moving the ball on offense. On the year, SDSU has outscored their opponents 229 - 173, for an average of 38.2 points a game as opposed to giving up 28.8. #5 Ryan Katz, a transfer from Oregon State, leads the Aztecs with an average of 191.2 yards a game. The leading rusher for the Aztecs is Adam Muema, who averages 99.5 yards a game and the leading receiver is Gavin Escobar.

KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: All American candidate Leon McFadden leads the Aztecs with 3 interceptions, 2 for touchdowns and a 41.3 yard return average and is second on the team in tackles with 22 solo tackles (30 total). Nat Berhe leads the team in tackles with 39 overall and 27 solo. Jake Fely, Nick Tenhaeff, and Derek Largent lead the team in sacks with 3 (for 20 yards), 2 (for 16 yards) and 2.5 (for 28 yards) respectively.

The Rams' defense has been left on the field for entirely too long in every game but the first. Defensive standouts Shaqs Barrett (3 sacks) and Bell have been as good as anyone could hope under such circumstances. Freshman Cory James (5 sacks) and James Skelton have also stepped up for the Rams. With QB Garrett Grayson and CB Momo Thomas both out for the season, the Rams need players on both sides of the ball to step up... and quickly.

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