GAME: Colorado State University Rams vs. The US Air Force Academy Falcons
WHERE: Colorado Springs, Colorado: Falcon Stadium (Capacity 46,692)
DATE/TIME: Saturday, September 29th at 12:00 MTN - Kickoff 12:06 p.m. MT
TV: Altitude Sports Network, AM 560 KLZ Denver, CO; KCOL 600 AM in Ft. Collins, CO; KSIR 1010 AM in Ft. Morgan, CO; and KNZZ 1100 in Grand Junction, CO; KVOR AM 740 in Colorado Springs, CO; The Fan 104.3 in Denver, CO.
CONFERENCE: Mountain West
WEB SITE: CSU RAMS ; AFA Falcons
2012 SEASON: CSU Rams are entering this matchup with a 1 - 3 record (0 - 0 in conference play), losers of three straight (NDSU, SJSU and USU). The Air Force Academy has a record of 1 - 2 (0 - 1 in conference play). CSU's lone win was against its instate rival, Colorado Buffaloes and AFA's lone win was against Idaho State (FCS), with loses to both Michigan and UNLV.
COACH: Coaches Troy Calhoun and Jim McElwain have their work cut out for them this year. Calhoun has much more experience as a head coach, with six season at AFA under his belt, than McElwain, who is in his first ever FBS coaching job. CSU has lost 7 of the last eight meetings with the Falcons and needs to put more offense together if it hopes to wrest the Ram - Falcon trophy from the Falcons. Last year the Falcons defeated the Rams in Fort Collins 45 - 21.
KEY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS: Outscored in four games 386 - 159 (35.1 - 14.5 per game average) the Rams desperately need the offense to possess the ball and let the defense rest. The Rams are last in the MW in both scoring and rushing. Sophomore QB Garrett Grayson has 7 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions in 127 attempts. Even with WR Charles Lovett breaking out a bit in the last two games, the Rams' offense is predictable and plodding, getting some quick play strikes and then stagnating for the rest of the game. Chris Nwoke, suffering through an ankle injury, and Donnell Alexander are the standouts at RB for the Rams Rams rank 111th nationally rushing).
Standouts for the Falcons on offense are senior QB Conner Dietz, RB Mike DeWitt, RB Cody Getz and WR Ty MacArthur, all of whom scored impressive touchdowns in the loss. With 352 rushing yards and 442 total yards amassed in a loss, the Rams will be sorely tested to keep the Air Force running game in check. Air Force has also only had one fumble so far this year, meaning that the Falcons are playing a fairly mistake free kind of football. The AFA was also able to rack up 626 yards of offense on Idaho State.
KEY DEFENSIVE PLAYERS: CSU LB Cory James has emerged as a real defensive threat tied for 8th in the nation with with 5 sacks. LB James Skelton, who had 6 solo tackles and 13 overall against Utah State, and LBShaq Bell, with an interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery against Utah State, have also been playing at a high level. Pete Kontodiakos is also a valuable player at punter, who is also a 2012 Ray Guy candidate. The Rams have their work cut out for them, trying to defend the triple option of the Falcon offense.
The Rams offense will have to account for LB Austin Niklas, who had 16 tackles last week (11 against Idaho State), DB Brian Lindsay (10 tackles) and LB Alex Means with 8 tackles and an interception. The Rams have asize advantage on the line vs. the Falcons, but that didn't seem to be a distraction for AFA against Michigan. Calhoun has stated that the Falcons need to improve in open field tackling and needs seniors like Nick DeJulioto show leadership and poise after the loss of 8 defenders due to graduation.