Colorado State (3-3, 1-1) vs. UNLV (5-1, 2-0)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada (Allegiant Stadium)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 21st at 5 PM (Mountain Time)
Television: MW Network (available on App Store, Google Play store, Apple TV, Roku, etc.)
Radio: thevarsitynetwork.com // Create an account, scroll through active game feeds to Colorado State broadcast, or follow Colorado State and select their active broadcast
Head-to-Head: Colorado State has controlled this matchup, winning 17 of the 23 games, including the last four. Despite being in the same conference, the Rebels and Rams haven’t squared off since 2019, a game in which CSU essentially led by at least 20 the entire time. UNLV’s last triumph was in 2011, when they won 38-35 off of a game winning Caleb Herring touchdown run. They also famously stunned #16 Colorado State in 2002, with backup QB Larry Crooms running all over the Rams to thwart their perfect conference season.
Three things to look for:
Can the pass rush disrupt Jayden Maiava’s rhythm?
No player is more responsible for the Rebels’ blazing hot start than hometown freshman Jayden Maiava. The three star QB has gone 4-0 since taking over as the starter after star Doug Brumfield got injured against Michigan. The stats aren’t very gaudy, but his poise and decision making are well above what anyone could’ve expected. He hasn’t had a turnover in two weeks, and has developed a fantastic connection with elite wideout Ricky White, hitting him for two long TDs against Nevada. With how deep the run game of UNLV is (four players with 100+ yards, multiple rush TDs), the Rebels’ are hard to beat if Maiava is playing well.
The Rams pass rush is far better than any UNLV has faced (besides Michigan). Mohamed Kamara is the undisputed top edge rusher in the conference, and the emergence of players like Nuer Gatkuoth and Buom Jock have made a deep unit even more effective. If they can pressure Maiava consistently, causing him to make mistakes, pulling off the upset is a real possibility. If Maiava plays like he has the last two games, however, and Colorado State can’t knock him down a few times, UNLV may cruise.
Will the offense be ready in the first half?
There’s no denying how incredible the comeback against Boise State was. The offense was unstoppable in the final six minutes of the game, showing how explosive they can truly be. But what about the other 54 minutes? The flow was much different. Their first half output amounted to five “three and outs” and a blocked field goal. The reality is, it’s not sustainable to win like the Rams just did.
BFN has to pick up first downs early in the contest, which will hopefully lead to big plays and points. UNLV’s offense is consistent, and are almost guaranteed to put up 25+ points. Their defense has been solid at stopping the run, but have struggled defending the passing game. If the Rams can get going right out of the gate, get into the end zone multiple times in the first half, then there’s a good chance this game goes down to the wire. However, if they are once again shut out in the first half, a close game won’t be possible.
Can CSU figure out how to stop the run?
There are many positives to draw from the defense’s performance last week. After giving up almost 400 yards through the air to Cooper Legas and Utah State, the Rams secondary rebounded to hold the Broncos to just 138 pass yards, as well as snagging two interceptions. The front seven rebounded from a rough first half to hold Ashton Jeanty to only 55 second half yards.
There is a glaring issue that must be addressed as CSU’s bowl push continues. The past two games, the Rams have given up about 250 yards on the ground per game. Especially against UNLV, that many yards allowed doesn’t equate with winning football. For the game to end in the Rams favor, players other than Chase Wilson, Justin Sanchez, and Nuer Gatkuoth will have to make plays to stop the run. They’ll need to force the Rebels to focus their play calling on passing by not allowing any home “runs” (no pun intended) early in the game. If UNLV is comfortable, running the ball consistently to set up the play action, it’ll be a long day for CSU defensively.
It would be very discouraging if the offense repeated their first half performance from last game, so expect the Rams to come out firing. Justus Ross-Simmons puts CSU up early with a long touchdown catch. The Rebels are able to move the ball on the ground at a solid clip, but can’t seem to break off any big plays. Maiava finally makes a mistake, throwing a red zone pick right before halftime, with BFN finding Dallin Holker up the seam to score again before going to the locker room. With a 14-6 lead, the Rams again get a house call, this time with Tory Horton taking a slant route the distance, outrunning everyone. Forced to turn to the passing game, UNLV gets the game within striking distance with a Jet Thomas touchdown run in the fourth quarter, but a long Ram drive ends with Vann Schield punching it in from a few yards out to go up 28-13. Maiava leads a quick scoring drive to give the Rebels a chance at an onside kick, but it rolls out of bounds, securing back-to-back upsets for Jay Norvell and Co.