The Falcons will face the CSU Rams at Falcon Stadium on Saturday, November 19 at 7 PM MT. The game will be televised on FS2.
This will be the 60th meeting between the two teams, and the Falcons hold a 37-21-1 edge in the series, including wins in the the last five games and eight in a row at Falcon Stadium. The winner of the game is awarded the Ram-Falcon Trophy.
Scouting the Rams
After a tumultuous off season of coaching changes and player transfers, the Rams got off to a slow start, losing their first four games, including a 41-10 drubbing by FCS Sacramento State. Since then, the Rams have played better, beating Hawaii and Nevada, and losing close games to Utah State, San Jose State, and Wyoming.
New head coach Jay Norvell brought with him the Air Raid offense he ran at Nevada, and also his freshman QB recruit Clay Millen, starting running back Avery Morrow, and star receiver Tory Horton. That trio has provided the lion’s share of production from the offense.
Millen has completed 70% of his passes for 1517 yards and 6 touchdowns. He has been hindered by an offensive line that is among the worst in FBS at pass protection. The line has allowed 48 sacks for a loss of 325 yards. On passing downs, the Rams give up sacks at a rate of 19.6% of the snaps.
As usual, the Rams have an NFL-caliber receiver in Tory Horton. He currently leads the Mountain West with 58 receptions for 965 yards and 6 touchdowns. If the Falcons don’t want to relive the problems they had with Brian Cobbs of Utah State they will have to keep close track of Horton.
Avery Morrow has accounted for well over half of the Rams rushing yardage, and has rushed for more than 100 yards five times. As with QB Millen, the Ram offensive line hasn’t done many favors for Morrow. Their ability to keep opposing defenses from stopping key runs has been lackluster, especially on third and fourth down. The Rams third down conversion rate is last in FBS at 21.7%, and the fourth down conversion rate is near the bottom at 40%.
Analysis and Prediction
It’s pretty much the same formula each week for the Falcons. Run Roberts up the middle behind the best offensive line in the G5, mix in some plays around the edges, confuse the defense with some misdirection and counters, get the safeties inching closer to the line, and pop a big throw downfield. It’s all about executing at a high level.
The pattern of the recent games between these two teams have been that the Falcons run for a lot of yards and the Rams throw for a lot of yards. The scoring stays pretty close, but the Rams make more mistakes than the Falcons do and the Falcons pull ahead and win. The performance of both teams this year suggests that this game will follow the same pattern. The Rams are again more error-prone than the Falcons; they are in the bottom 30 teams in penalty yards, turnovers, turnover margin, and sacks allowed. The Falcon running attack has been punishing the less defensively-minded teams in the conference. The Rams have a QB-wide receiver duo that can give the Air Force defensive backs fits. This all fits the narrative of this matchup in recent years.
Currently Draft Kings has the Falcons as 21.5 point favorites with an over/under of 44. Bill Connelly of SP+ has the Falcons as nearly 30 point favorites. It seems to me that these predictions are too optimistic for the Falcons. I’ll take the Falcons 35-17.