The Colorado State Rams (1-0) got off to a hot start in the 2015 college football season with a 65-13 win over FCS foe Savannah State. After taking care of business in week one, the Rams will face a much bigger challenge this week with the Minnesota Golden Gophers (0-1) visiting Hughes Stadium on Saturday. The Golden Gophers lost their home opener to the #2 TCU Horned Frogs 23-17. Minnesota may have lost in the first week of the season, but they played the Horned Frogs well, holding one of the most prolific offensive units in college football to only 23 points.
Against Savannah State, Colorado State's offense was firing on all cylinders, totaling 598 total yards against the Tigers. In his first collegiate start, Ram's quarterback Nick Stevens threw for 289 yards, completing 20 of 28 passes with five touchdowns to five different receivers. Steven's performance earned him the Mountain West Conference Player of the Week award.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Golden Gophers boast one of the most experienced defensive backfields in the country. With over 100 career starts between the starters, Minnesota will prove to be a tough challenge for Stevens in his second career start. All-American wide out Rashard Higgins, commonly known as "Hollywood Higgins", will have to be on the top of his game against Minnesota's top corners Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun.
A question on offense for the Rams is; who will emerge as the lead running back? With Treyous Jarrells sidelined with an injury, senior Jasen Oden Jr. led the team with 11 carries for 74 yards on Saturday. Purdue transfer Dalyn Dawkins received five carries, while sophomore Deron Thompson and true freshman Izzy Matthews each had six carries.
Minnesota's offense is led by junior quarterback Mitch Leidner and freshman running back Rodney Smith. Losing their top two threats from a year ago, tight end Maxx Williams and running back David Cobb, Leidner and the Golden Gopher offense will look to find an offensive rhythm, something they struggled to do against TCU.
It is important for the Ram's defense to contain Leidner and not allow him to use his legs as a weapon. With an experienced defensive backfield themselves, the Rams can create a difficult matchup for a struggling offensive unit. One major question for the Colorado State defense is; how will the Ram's defensive line play against a team that ran the ball roughly 40 times a game last year? The Rams ranked 96th in rush defense a year ago, allowing 200 yards per game on the ground. However, new defensive coordinator Tyson Summers is transitioning this team from a 3-4 base defense to a 4-3 base defense. Savannah State isn't the best test to gauge how well the defense is transitioning.
The Rams host a "Power 5" opponent for the first time since 2007, when they hosted the California Golden Bears featuring Desean Jackson and Justin Forsett. For a team who's fans are claiming they should be in a P-5 conference, this is a big time test. The Rams, who beat two P-5 teams last year, must come out and play the Golden Gophers hard if they expect to gain respect across the country. Game time is set for 1:30 Mountain Standard Time. The game can be found on CBS Sports Network, and on 105.5 ESPN radio.