If you’re a Colorado State fan, you had to love the way that the Rams came out and absolutely dominated from the beginning of this game. On their first possession, they marched down the field and Nick Stevens connected with tight end Nolan Peralta on a 19 yard touchdown pass.
On their next position, the junior quarterback ran for a 14 yard touchdown. Stevens would finish the game with two passing and two rushing touchdowns, effectively going from pariah and benched starter earlier in the season to star of the game. Of course, the irony in all of this is that Stevens wouldn’t have even played if not for the gruesome season-ending knee injury to freshman quarterback Collin Hill in October.
Of course, it wasn’t just Stevens. The Rams had their way with the Lobos, even beating them at their own game. Colorado State ran for 412 yards and had 576 total yards of offense. Leading the charge was Marvin Kinsey, Izzy Matthews, and Dalyn Dawkins, all of whom ran for over a hundred yards. The Lobos, the top rushing team in the country, could only muster 285 yards on the ground. With the victory, Colorado State officially became bowl eligible.
New Mexico’s performance was a letdown. The defense let the Rams’ offense do whatever they want and the UNM offense just couldn’t match the offensive firepower of their opponent. I have to question coach Bob Davie’s decision to start Austin Apodaca at quarterback. Last week I likened Apodaca to a sixth man in basketball - someone who comes in off the bench and offers a different approach and energy that the opponent is not prepared for. Apodaca seems to do well in that roll, and more importantly, the Lobos quantifiably play better when Lamar Jordan stabilizes the offense to start the game.
Furthermore, Davie commented before the game that if the Lobos threw the ball fifteen times they would lose this game. My issue is not that UNM threw the ball sixteen times, but rather why start a quarterback who is known for his passing? In all likelihood, starting Jordan wouldn’t have affected the outcome of the game. He threw for 30 and ran for 36, hardly impactful numbers, but the inconsistency with the quarterback shuffle is maddening. Tyrone Owens was the lone bright spot for the Lobos, going off for 157 yards on 12 rushes (including a sweet, but meaningless 79 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter). In short, Colorado State did everything that the Lobos wanted to do better.
For the Lobos, this is a tough loss. If they had won, next week’s matchup against Wyoming would have held much more meaning: a potential shot at the MWC championship game. Now New Mexico will look to play spoilers against Wyoming, knowing that a victory will not hold the same relevance as if they had won against the Rams.