Date/Time: Saturday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m. EST / 5 p.m. MST
Location: H.A. Chapman Stadium; Tulsa
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: ESPN 105.5/102.3
Online: CBSsports.com Game Tracker
Weather: Low 90s and clear
Odds: Tulsa is favored by 13 points
First Meeting: 1965 - A 48-20 Tulsa win.
All-time Record: Tulsa 4-3-0. CSU has won three of last four contests.
Last Game: CSU beat the Golden Hurricane 34-7 in 1998, when both were members of the WAC.
It's a meeting of two desperate teams at H.A. Chapman Stadium Saturday night when the Colorado State Rams travel to face the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Coming off of disappointing Week 1 performances, this contest is a critical matchup for both squads.
The Rams laid an egg in the second Rocky Mountain Showdown of the Jim McElwain era Sunday, losing 41-27 and allowing Buffs quarterback Connor Wood to pass for 400 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those scores went to wide receiver Paul Richardson, who Colorado State knew they had to stop, but couldn't, as he caught 10 balls for 208 yards. The Rams' run defense -- No. 103 in the country in 2012 -- was a bright spot, allowing only 109 yards on 37 carries.
The Colorado State offense looked flat for most of the game. Quarterback Garrett Grayson was ultra conservative, throwing the ball 39 times for 201 yards -- a 5.15 yards-per-attempt average. Grayson shouldn't receive all the blame, though, as his receivers did him no favors, dropping several catchable balls. Sophomore wideout Joe Hansley was the highlight in the passing game, catching eight passes for 91 yards.
The Rams' running game, thought to be a strength heading into the contest, was mostly dormant. Starter Donnell Alexander sustained an injury early, and former thousand-yard rusher Chris Nwoke looked slow and ineffective. Highly touted JuCo transfer Kapri Bibbs provided a nice spark, rushing 15 times for 70 yards and two scores, but his fourth-quarter fumble -- returned 53 yards for a score by Colorado's Greg Henderson -- swung the momentum in the Buffs' direction for good.
Special teams were a bright spot for Colorado State. Hansley returned one punt 74 yards for a touchdown, while receiver Thomas Coffman tallied an 84-yard kickoff return of his own. Kicker Jared Roberts was two-for-two on field goal attempts, and punter Hayden Hunt averaged a whopping 49.7 yards on seven punts.
Tulsa, meanwhile suffered a surprising 34-7 defeat at Bowling Green Thursday after winning 11 games and taking home the Conference USA title 2012.
Not that there aren't excuses. The Golden Hurricane had to replace 18 seniors from last season, including three starters along the offensive line and eight starters on defense. Senior quarterback Cody Green -- a former Nebraska Cornhusker -- was ineffective last week, completing only half of his 34 attempts for 174 yards and no scores. The new line couldn't open up any holes for running backs Tre Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas, who against Bowling Green ran the ball 16 times for only 30 yards after combining for 2044 yards last season.
The revamped Tulsa defense looked good against the Falcons' anemic passing game, but was gashed on the ground, giving up 233 yards on 53 attempts. Part of that was simply fatigue, as Bowling Green dominated time-of-possession, holding the ball for nearly 39 minutes.
Special teams look to be a concern, with senior kicker Carl Salazar missing both of his field goal attempts. If the game comes down to a special-teams play, the Rams have the advantage.
Colorado State will be without Alexander (hand) and Hansley (ankle), and Charles Lovett, last year's leading receiver, is also doubtful after missing the Colorado game. Tulsa safety Demarco Nelson, a three-year starter, will miss the entire season after his eligibility appeal was denied by the NCAA this week.
Pick: TULSA 34, CSU 28: This is a must-win game for the Golden Hurricane with upcoming dates against Oklahoma and Iowa State. The Rams running game might be revitalized against a porous Tulsa D, but sheer desperation puts the Golden Hurricane on top.