Mountain West foes will meet on Saturday evening when the Colorado State Rams take on the New Mexico Lobos at University Stadium. Colorado State is coming off a strong effort in a 32-14 win over the San Jose State Spartans last weekend as a 3.5-point home favorite to improve to 2-3 (1-0 MWC) on the season. New Mexico enters the weekend at 2-4 (0-2 MWC) after getting crushed 31-7 by the No. 24 San Diego State Spartans on Saturday as a 19.5-point road underdog.
This is a one-sided series historically with Colorado State holding a 42-25 advantage all time over New Mexico. The Rams have won 10 straight against the Lobos including a 35-21 victory in Albuquerque in the most recent meeting back in 2019.
Colorado State's turnaround continues in conference openerIt seemed like things were going to quickly come unraveled for Colorado State after it lost to FCS South Dakota State and lowly Vanderbilt to begin the year, but the Rams have played well over the last three games including a comfortably win over reigning Mountain West champions San Jose State in the conference opener last weekend. Jaylen Thomas ran it in from one yard out following a dominant opening drive to give Colorado State the lead while Ty McCullouch added a 60-yard touchdown reception early in the third, and six field goals from Cayden Camper throughout the game proved to be enough otherwise.
Todd Centeio had an outstanding game under center, completing 19 of 23 pass attempts for 232 yards and a touchdown while adding six rushes for 37 yards. A'Jon Vivens racked up 114 yards on 31 carries, while star tight end Trey McBride reeled in six catches for 60 yards. It was a dominant performance all around, as Colorado State finished with a 449-267 advantage in total yards while forcing three San Jose State turnovers.
"The plan to win for us, is five steps," head coach Steve Addazio said to Colorado State's official website. "Play great defense, run the football, no turnovers, great in special teams, because that's a field-changing thing, and score in the red zone. That's our plan to win. But it starts with playing great defense."
Colorado State is 3-2 against the spread, and has covered in each of its last three games after the horrendous start to the year including a competitive loss to the No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes as a 24-point underdog three weeks ago. Overs are 2-3 for the Rams after last weekend's game narrowly went over the low betting total of 44 points.
The overall offensive stats still aren't pretty for the Rams, who are averaging 22.4 points and 385.4 yards per game this season. Colorado State's defense has generally done a good job, holding opponents to 22 points and 328.8 yards per contest.
Centeio has turned things around nicely after a slow start, completing 95 of his 160 attempts overall for 1,039 yards and five touchdowns to one interception while adding 54 carries for 203 yards and a score. McBride is going to be one of the first tight ends off the board in next year's NFL Draft, having caught 42 passes for 458 yards and a touchdown. Dequan Jackson leads the Rams defense with 47 tackles including six for a loss, plus one sack.
Leading rusher David Bailey has missed the last two games with a leg injury and is questionable for Saturday. Wide receiver Dante Wright has been out with a knee injury since recording 10 catches for 146 yards in the first two games of the season, and it's unclear when he will return. Backup quarterback Matt Valecce (lower body) and defensive back Linwood Crump (upper body) are out for the season.
New Mexico has no chance against ranked foeThere have been some positives this season for New Mexico, which has already matched its win total from each of the last two years, but the Lobos were outclassed last weekend by undefeated San Diego State. New Mexico's offense got shut out on the night, with the team's only points coming late in the third quarter on Ray Leutele's 15-yard scoop and score to make it a 17-7 game, only for the Aztecs to march down the field quickly for a touchdown on the next drive to seal things.
Terry Wilson struggled to get much going through the air, completing 13 of 25 passes for 127 yards and an interception before going down late in the fourth quarter with an elbow injury. Aaron Dumas had a nice game with 11 carries for 77 yards in a standout performance on a tough night for the offense. New Mexico was limited to 193 yards of total offense overall, while the Aztecs went for over 200 on the ground.
“We did some (good) things in spurts, but still not good enough,” said second-year head coach Danny Gonzales to the Albuquerque Journal about his sputtering offense. “We’re playing with enough opportunities on defense, but we’re not capitalizing on offense. … We gotta make plays.”
New Mexico is now 0-6 against the spread, as its only two outright wins are from games it was a massive favorite against FCS Houston Baptist and rival New Mexico State. Overs are 2-4 for the Lobos after last weekend's contest didn't quite make it to the low betting total of 42.5 points.
The Lobos need a spark offensively, as they are third from the bottom in the nation in scoring at 15.2 points per game on an average of 282.7 yards per contest. New Mexico's defense has done a decent job, allowing 27.5 points and 347 yards per contest.
Wilson has completed 99 of 172 pass attempts for 1,054 yards, seven touchdowns and four interceptions while adding a rushing touchdown, although is yet to return to practice after dislocating his non-throwing elbow. Dumas is now the team's leading rusher with 57 carries for 284 yards, while Luke Wysong is the top receiver with 19 catches for 218 yards. Joey Noble is turning in a strong season to lead the Lobos defense with 40 tackles including 9.5 for a loss, three sacks and one pass breakup.
If Wilson can't go, the Lobos will turn to freshman CJ Montes, who has attempted one pass in his career. The quarterback room is further shorthanded as Isaiah Chavez hasn't appeared this season due to a concussion after attempting 28 passes a year ago. Second-leading receiver Emmanuel Logan-Greene didn't play against San Diego State and his status is unknown. Senior linebacker Reco Hannah will return to the lineup on Saturday after recovering from knee surgery.
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Even though the Rams have played better over the last three weeks, there are still a lot of red flags for an offense that was pushed around by the likes of South Dakota State and Vanderbilt earlier in the season. This has all the makings of a low-scoring slugfest where neither team is able to build much of a lead, and New Mexico's defense will at least keep things within single digits at home here.
The Rams managed some good results in recent games, but still rank in the sub-100 range nationally with 4.8 yards per play, and while Centeio is coming off a fantastic performance against San Jose State, he hasn't shown an ability to do anything that consistently in his career. Colorado State scored a total of two offensive touchdowns in the wins over Toledo and San Jose State with both victories coming thanks to a combined 11 field goals plus a punt return score, which isn't a sustainable way to keep winning games let alone cover a double-digit spread on the road.
New Mexico has some good playmakers on the defensive front to bother the limited Rams offense and has allowed a totally respectable 5.1 yards per play on the season overall. The Lobos have been undone by a tough schedule since winning their first two games and will look better at home on Saturday night against a beatable Colorado State team.
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These are two very limited scoring offenses as is, and the injury report isn't helpful for either as the Lobos' quarterback play will be a complete question mark if Wilson can't go with an unproven freshman Montes coming in. Colorado State also has to be worried about being too one-dimensional with its leading rusher Bailey out, and the absence of top receiver Wright puts way too much pressure on McBride to carry the offense himself.
The Rams defense has been an above-average unit since the season opener and ranks seventh in college football with a 10.34% sack rate, which can cause a lot of trouble for an inexperienced quarterback on the other side. All signs here point to a defensive struggle between two teams that have trended towards unders this season so far.