Colorado State is playing its best football of the year heading into Thursday’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The Rams’ last two games were wins over New Mexico and San Diego State — both winners of bowl games Saturday — in which the Rams totaled 112 points. Here’s why Colorado State can make it five wins in their final six games of 2016:
TOO MUCH BALANCE
It hasn’t been a one-dimensional attack scoring all those points. Quarterback Nick Stevens has 12 touchdowns to one interception in the past five games, while the running game is averaging nearly 275 yards per game. Idaho’s 77th-ranked scoring defense could be in for a long day.
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“We’re able to be a lot more balanced offensively,” Colorado State coach Mike Bobo said. “There’s a threat of a passing game. It’s enabled us to be more explosive.”
Idaho has thrived when forcing turnovers, earning a plus-12 margin in its eight wins. But Colorado State is stingy when it comes to giving the ball away. The Rams are tied for eighth in the nation for the fewest giveaways (12), and they have only eight since losing the season opener to Colorado. If the Rams can play keepaway, they’ll win.
“That’s the key for them,” Bobo said. “They create confusion.”
WEAKNESS IN THE RIGHT PLACE
Colorado State has not been overly strong on defense. It’s 60th in yards allowed (404.1 ypg) and 61st in points allowed (27.8 ppg). The Rams’ rush defense, no doubt slightly inflated playing in the Mountain West, is a weak spot, allowing 213.1 ypg (99th). But their pass defense allows 191 ypg (21st) and should test Idaho, which is 103rd in rush offense but 60th in passing.
“We’ve somewhat faced that offense this year, the formations,” Rams linebacker Kevin Davis said. “They’re very common in what we’ve played against this year. I don’t think there's much of a change. Maybe a little bit more pass than usual, but we’re ready to go.”
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Idaho vs. Colorado State
▪ Time: 5 p.m. Thursday
▪ Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf), Boise
▪ TV: ESPN (David Neal, Matt Stinchcomb, Olivia Harlan)
▪ Radio: 630 AM, 96.5 FM, 730 AM
▪ Tickets: Available at the Albertsons Stadium ticket office and at ticketmaster.com
▪ Vegas line: CSU by 15
▪ Coaches: Idaho, Paul Petrino (fourth year; 14-33); CSU, Mike Bobo (second year; 14-11)
▪ 2016 records: Idaho 8-5, CSU 7-5
▪ Bowl records: Idaho 2-0, CSU 6-9
▪ Series: CSU leads 4-3 (won last meeting 36-34 at Fort Collins, 2010)
▪ Kickoff weather: Low 20s and partly cloudy, with light wind and a 5 percent chance of snow
▪ 9 a.m.: Albertsons Stadium ticket office opens
▪ 2-5 p.m.: Tent Village/Fan Fest, Simplot Fry Feed, Albertsons Stadium west parking lot
▪ 2-5 p.m.: Tent Village/Fan Fest, FitOne Family Field Day, Caven Williams Sports Complex
▪ 3:30-4 p.m.: Tent Village/Fan Fest, Battle of the Bands, Albertsons Stadium west parking lot
▪ 3:30 p.m.: Albertsons Stadium gates open
▪ 4 p.m.: Pre-game activities, Albertsons Stadium