The best part about this game for these two teams is that they are starting with a clean slate. New Mexico was 1-11 with a lone win against Wyoming. Colorado State was 3-9 for the second consecutive year. Come Saturday they will both be tied for first in the league and get fresh starts. Come Sunday one school will be feeling like this is their year while the other looks at another possible abomination of a season.
The Rams will see just how big a difference having a returning quarterback can be when Pete Thomas takes the snaps. Tarean Austin will get his shot to lead the Lobos out of the dumps of the Mountain West, he was picked for his running ability. Let's take a look at these match-ups for the defenses after The Jump...
Pete Thomas had a solid game against the Lobos last year. One touchdown, no interceptions, 68% completion percentage. Really a middle of the road game last year, he protected the ball and let the running game go wild as they defeated the Lobos in Fort Collins 38-14. The running game put up a season high 328 yards with 4 touchdowns. If Pete Thomas can, and he can, do the same thing the Rams should have their first victory of the year. He won't need to be special unless the running game comes out sputtering. The Lobos defense is weak, 120th in the nation last year kind of weak. I expect a similar game out of Thomas and the Rams.
Can Austin prove that Locksley made the right choice and put some pressure on the Rams? Maybe, but the Rams haven't struggled with running QB's as much as they have with pure passers. Unless the Lobos picked up Colin Kapernick from the 49ers I think the defense will hold. Austin could make some plays that puts pressure on the Rams. If he catches the defense not containing and keeping gap integrity there could be a few long runs. I think Mychal Sisson and Mike Orakpo will track him down before there are any game changing runs though.
Simply put the Lobos haven't done enough over the off season to assume anything but a loss to a Colorado State team that now has more experience all over the field. The Rams could struggle to run with the losses of Zac Pauga and Leonard Mason. I think the offensive line is better and will help Raymond Carter and Chris Nwoke find a rhythm though.
The Lobos won't lay down in their home opener but the Rams should win. With some people talking about a 5-0 or 4-1 start the Rams have to take advantage of that and show up to play. An easy schedule does no good if you don't seize the opportunity.