The Colorado State Rams host the New Mexico Lobos for the Ram's Senior Day and final home game of the season. The Rams at 9-1 are looking to build on their 8 game winning streak as they continue to push for a chance to host the Mountain West Championship. The Lobos on the other hand are officially out of post season contention sitting at 3-7.
Last year's matchup was a high scoring affair in Albuquerque with the Rams coming out victorious 66-42. That game featured Colorado State running back Kapri Bibbs, now on the Denver Bronco's active roster, who ran for 291 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Lobos brought the game to 45-42 in the third quarter, however, Bibb's scored 3 of his 6 touchdowns in the fourth quarter to lead the Rams to the win.
This year's matchup consists of a Colorado State team that has one of the most balanced and explosive offenses in the conference, led by quarterback Garrett Grayson, running back Dee Hart and wide receiver Rashard Higgins. Despite being heavy favorites in Saturday's matchup with the Lobos, the Rams are facing a team that doesn't quit. New Mexico is a team that has shown a lot of fight in each and every game this year, highlighted by a 60-49 loss to Boise State where the Lobos held the lead until midway through the fourth quarter.
Here are Three Keys for Victory for Colorado State.
1. Stop the run - The Lobos are a run heavy team led by running backs Jhurrell Pressley and Teriyon Gipson. Combined they have rushed for 1546 yards. Add in the contribution of freshman quarterback Lamar Jordan who has 462 yards of his own. New Mexico's young backfield has been able to score a lot of points this year. The Lobo's offense has been held under 20 points in just one game this year, and have scored over 30 points four times this year. Forcing negative plays and sound tackling will be important if the Rams plan on coming out victorious.
2. Continue their home field dominance - The Rams are a different team at home compared to on the road. Playing five games at home and on the road, the Ram's offense has been far more explosive at Hughes Stadium. The Rams have nearly 90 yards per game more at home and have scored 8 more touchdowns. The passing game has been even more special at home, scoring 7 more passing touchdowns. Throw into the factor that this will be Grayson's final game in Fort Collins, look for the passing offense to be extremely explosive from the opening kickoff.
3. Play like a Top-25 team - The Rams are the 22nd ranked team in the AP Poll and are the 23rd ranked team in the USA Today Poll. That being said, there are times when the rams look like the 8-6 team from a year ago instead of their 9-1 selves. One example is the safety let up against Hawaii in Colorado State's most previous game. Grayson and Hart struggled on an exchange in the endzone which allowed Hawaii to make a stop and get an easy 2 points. There have been examples of poor tackling, coverage breakdowns and special teams mistakes which have all led to the Ram's being involved in closer games than they should have been. Colorado State needs to limit mistakes to avoid a nail biter against New Mexico.
Game time for the Rams and Lobos is set for Saturday, November 22nd at 11:30 a.m. MST. The Rams have 13 seniors playing their final game ever in front their hometown fans, including Grayson, tackle Ty Sambrailo and defensive leaders Max Morgan and Aaron Davis. The game can be found on Root Sports.