Location: CEFCU Stadium – San Jose, CA
Date/Time: Saturday, November 5th @ 7:30 PM PDT
Broadcast: NBC Sports Bay Area | KTRB 860 AM
Head-to-head history: San Jose State head coach Brent Brennan’s teams are 0-3 vs. Colorado State. In a series that started in 1961, the Rams are 7-4 over the Spartans.
Facing Colorado State (2-6, 2-2 MW) Saturday night, the Spartans (5-2, 3-1 MW) are expected to win.
The question by how much is what real life dictates vs. the analytic nerds, the metrics dudes and the research fogies calling the Spartans at -24?!
Overall, it’s a good side of the equation to finally be on vs. years past.
Earlier in the season where those dreaded point spreads predicted closer games, San Jose State ended up demolishing Western Michigan, Wyoming and UNLV.
Against Fresno State, it was as advertised - a great, close rivalry game.
The last two games with larger predicted win margins saw much closer competition. Why?
At this point, big spreads should be ignored for the remainder of the season for several reasons: team identities are well-known, the down slope of schedules are make it or break it time and desperate teams are like cornered beasts ready to fight harder than ever.
San Jose State should know the latter. They’ve shown grit in past years that won them games they weren’t supposed to. The now upstart Colorado State is no different.
Brennan tries to make sure his teams have respect and appreciation for any competition, including the challenge facing first-year Ram coach Jay Norvell.
“I’ve known coach Norvell for a long time. He’s one of the best coaches in the country,” said Brennan. “They’re putting all the pieces together with a bunch of guys from different teams considering they’re a much different team from a year ago.”
The tables looked to be turned this year towards the heavily favored Spartans, but that doesn’t sit well with Brennan.
“It’s still going to be a hell of a challenge,” said Brennan. “Every game in this conference is hard - every game. If you don’t bring your best stuff and play clean, you’ll have a tough day against anyone.”
“I think it’ll be another four quarter game. Their quarterback is incredibly efficient. They’ve got playmakers on offense and a big offensive line - all those pieces are there. Defensively, they have a very good active front seven backed up by a really good secondary. What I’ve watched on tape is a really good football team.”
Who are the Rams?
- Clay Millen is the fourth best passer in the conference (Chevan Cordiero is #1)
- Tony Horton is neck-and-neck with SJS WR Elijah Cooks as the top receiver in the conference
- Avery Morrow (Nevada transfer) is the bigger version of SJS’ RB Kairee Robinson
- LB Jack Howell is the top tackler in the conference and DL Mohamed Kamara leads a potent defensive front
Similar to what Brennan noted against Nevada, behind the Rams’ record are still many formidable pieces that can come alive and spill over if the Spartans aren’t careful.
“We’re trying to clean up some of that stuff from the last game that hurt us,” said Brennan. “Whether that was schematics or penalties, which were unnecessary, that impacted the course of that Nevada game.”
Who are the Spartans at this point in the season?
At any point, the Spartans are synonymous with brotherhood - win, lose or draw.
They’re an infamous stout defense.
They’re an energetic, revitalized offense.
SJS is currently ranked third in total defense and total offense in the Mountain West.
And other teams know what they’re up against, or do they?
DC Derrick Odum and OC Kevin McGiven still throw in subtle but provoking twists each game. The latest saw a familiar face in Nick Nash at receiver and special teams.
Nash becomes more food for thought to the opposition.
“We’re excited about it and he looks great out there,” said Brennan on Nash. “We test drove Nick at receiver last fall and I think those reps really translated to now and he’s really doing a nice job.”
Brennan added on Nash, “I was talking to our receiver coach EScott (Eric Scott) and I said, ‘I think he’s ready to play,’ and EScott said. ‘He’s going to play!’
Ebbs and flows, crash & burns, twists and turns
Conference performance as a whole might be considered poor this year with many teams underperforming. Others might view it as inevitable change and typically, people don’t like change.
Perhaps if one pulls back looking at the conference and programs in the bigger picture, change is the only thing that’s certain. So, how do you manage it?
Stalwart programs like Boise State and Air Force also show what’s possible, while some program administrations figure out why they’re suddenly needing to rebuild.
And then there’s programs like UNLV and San Jose State who inject deep culture and will continue to strive by realizing the human factor is the biggest thing to recognize, understand and manage.
“We’re still trying to honor Camdan McWright properly and still trying to still work through the grief of losing such a great teammate and person,” said Brennan on the need to coach in the here-and-now and yet pay attention to everything.
“Combined with a good, hard fought game against Nevada last week, everyone on the team is still thinking about Camdan and his family and we’re still trying to honor him as we go about our everyday business.”