Utah Tech vs. Colorado State
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado (Canvas Stadium)
Date/Time: Saturday, September 30th at 5 PM (Mountain Time)
Streaming: Mountain West Network. Available on Apple TV, Fire TV, Android TV, Roku, App Store, and Google Play store.
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: Utah Tech and Colorado State have never played before. The Rams have had trouble with FCS opponents in recent history. They’ve lost 3 of their last 4 FCS contests, with the losses being by an average of 22 points. The Trail Blazers, on the other hand, have never beaten an FBS team since joining the WAC in 2020.
Three things to look for:
Can the Rams put the underdogs away early?
In a game where they are the heavy favorite, it’s imperative that the Rams take an early lead and never let it go. If this team has truly turned the corner, the offense should have no problem putting up points and the defense should be able to overwhelm the Trail Blazers with their size and speed. But, if they let Utah Tech hang around, they’ll only be harder to dispatch as the game goes on. Nothing is scarier than a team fueled by the chance to get a program-changing win, and if the game is somewhat close, they’ll rise to the occasion. Colorado State has to avoid any unforced errors. They can’t get cocky and try a bunch of trick plays, they need to play their offensive style and get the ball to their playmakers in space. The old Rams would certainly let this be a game. Will the new Rams raise the standard?
Will the run game be a factor without Morrow & Johnson?
As complete of a win as the Rams victory over Middle Tennessee State was, they didn’t get out of Murfreesboro unscathed. Both starting running backs, Avery Morrow and Kobe Johnson, were injured in the 3rd quarter. Morrow hurt his MCL, and will be sidelined for a “couple weeks”. Johnson suffered a back injury, which while not eliminating him from playing against Utah Tech, will be something worth monitoring going forward. The tandem combined for 87.5% of CSU’s carries, so losing both of them is quite the blow. Walk-on sophomore Vann Schield got the running back snaps for the remainder of the MTSU game, and will likely be the lead back if Johnson is unavailable. The other two players to watch for are KJ Edwards and Damian Henderson II. Edwards was a junior college transfer, and Henderson II is a true freshman and was the 3rd highest ranked recruit to ever sign with Colorado State. Neither have had a carry yet this season.
The Rams haven’t exactly relied on their run game, but timely chunk plays from their running backs were essential to the offense’s success against Colorado and the Blue Raiders. If running the ball isn’t an option, it lessens the odds of a blowout. The Trail Blazers defense has given up over 50 points a game so far, and they’ve been laughably bad defending the run (259.8 rush YPG). If the Rams aren’t going to take advantage of that, Utah Tech will have a better shot at keeping the game close. However, if the offensive line dominates the line of scrimmage and opens holes for whoever is getting the handoffs from BFN, Colorado State could have one of their best rushing days in years.
How crazy will the offensive stats be?
Assuming Norvell and Co. take care of business and have a comfortable lead by the second half, the most interesting aspect of this game may end up being the final stat sheet. Since handing the reins to Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi, the air raid offense has been clicking, good for the fifth best passing attack in the country. It should also be factored in how tough of a time Utah Tech has had defensively this year. They’re allowing 537 yards a game, and likely won’t have an offense capable of keeping their defense off the field. If the Rams offense is really humming, there’s a chance we see some single game records broken. The only dampener on those chances would be if the starters are pulled early, but if they stay in for the majority of the game, who knows what we could see. 537+ passing yards for BFN? More than 265 receiving yards from Tory Horton? 4 or more touchdown catches for Dallin Holker? The possibilities are endless!
It would be naive to pick the Trail Blazers to win, but since they’ve gotten to double digit points in every game so far, expect a few scores from an offense that has three receivers with at least 200 yards and a touchdown. The much improved Rams should take care of business against a team that’s giving up 50 points to FCS offenses and can’t stop the run despite the play of United Athletic Conference preseason DPOY defensive lineman Syrus Webster. BFN may take a drive or two to get into a rhythm, since the run game will be restricted, but the offensive line should protect him consistently and allow the receivers to get open. Tory Horton will juke all over the field for three quarters, narrowly missing the 200 yard threshold, as the second line comes in with roughly ten minutes to play. Colorado State has a highlight filled night to reach 2-2 for the first time since 2017.