GAME NOTES: A couple of teams searching for their third win of the season
clash in Fort Collins this weekend, as the Colorado State Rams entertain the
UNLV Rebels in Mountain West Conference action.
If nothing else, the Rebels have to be happy about the fact that their two
wins thus far have come against conference opponents. Last weekend, the team
managed to snap a five-game slide with a 35-7 triumph over New Mexico at home
in Las Vegas. It was just the second time this season that the Rebels held an
opponent under 24 points as they matched their entire win total from last
season (2-10) and 2010 (2-11).
The Rebels are seeking back-to-back wins in the same season since late 2008
when the program conquered both New Mexico (27-20) and Wyoming (22-14) at home
in a span of five days.
As for the Rams, they entered the 2012 campaign on an eight-game slide before
posting a 22-17 win against rival Colorado in Denver in the opener. Since then
the squad has lost all but one of eight outings, the one win being a 42-27
decision over Hawaii late last month. Last weekend, CSU was thumped by Wyoming
on the road in conference play, 45-31.
UNLV posted a 38-35 win in last year's meeting with CSU, the team's only
league victory in seven tries in 2011, but still the Rebels trail in the all-
time series, 13-6-1.
Bradley Randle led the assault for the Rebels last time out as he ran for 113
yards and two touchdowns and also caught a 17-yard scoring pass as the team
easily took care of visiting New Mexico by four touchdowns. Randle was part of
a running attack that generated 241 yards and three scores, as Tim Cornett
delivered 107 yards and one TD on nine runs of his own.
Nick Sherry completed 17-of-27 for 289 yards and two touchdowns and was picked
off twice, with more than half of his passing yards being produced by Devante
Davis who caught seven balls for 145 yards and a TD.
Defensively, the Rebels forced UNM to punt on its first four possessions, then
forced a turnover on downs and watched the sixth possession by the Lobos end
as the first half came to a close. The squad did give up a total of 307 yards
on the ground, but all of that action barely made a dent on the scoreboard.
Because UNLV's run defense was abused a bit by the Lobos, the team now ranks
112th in the country in stopping the run, allowing 222.7 ypg. The pass defense
is only slightly better (237.4 ypg), which is why the Rebels are last in the
conference and 103rd nationally with 460.1 ypg permitted overall.
Considering how many quarterbacks have been filtered through the Rebels over
the past decade or so, it is nice to see Sherry making a significant
contribution as he moved into eighth place on the school's since-season
passing list with 2,290 yards through 10 games. With his effort against the
Lobos, Sherry is also tied for 10th all-time for the most 200-yard passing
games at the school with six.
The Rams, under first-year head coach Jim McElwain, were caught up in a high-
scoring affair with Wyoming last Saturday afternoon in the annual border war,
but in their case 31 points were not nearly enough to get the squad into the
win column on the road in Laramie. Under the direction of their third
different starting quarterback, the Rams registered a hefty 512 yards on just
58 plays, but were slowed by 10 penalties for a loss of 76 yards.
Conner Smith tried to keep hope alive as he converted 13-of-23 passes for 326
yards and two touchdowns, while being sacked once and having a pass picked
off. Garrett Grayson also made an appearance as he converted just three of his
nine pass attempts for 61 yards and a pick. Thomas Coffman made an impact with
his four catches which turned into a game-high 146 yards and a score.
Even though Smith has completed 66.1 percent of his passes over the course of
three appearances, he's not the answer the Rams are looking for at quarterback
since he has just three TDs against four INTs. Perhaps somewhere down the line
when the rest of the offense is geared towards his strengths, but for now the
signal-caller is just trying to get the Rams through the season.
A bigger issue for CSU, just as it was last season, is trying to put together
an offensive line that won't completely collapse under pressure and right now
that continues to happen as the team ranks eighth in the conference and 100th
nationally with 2.89 sacks allowed per game.
The Rebels might not be the most sound team in the MWC, but at the moment they
have to be considered the favorite here as the Rams are still unsure about
what is happening at quarterback.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNLV 27, Colorado State 23