San Jose State (2-3) at Colorado State (2-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 12, 3:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hughes Stadium (32,500) -- Fort Collins, Colorado. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: SJSU 1-1, CSU 2-0. Away Record: SJSU 1-2, CSU 0-2. Neutral Record: SJSU 0-0, CSU 0-1. Conference Record: SJSU 1-1, CSU 0-0. Series Record: Series is tied, 3-3.
GAME NOTES: The last team to finally get their Mountain West Conference schedule off the ground this season, the Colorado State Rams settle in against the visiting San Jose State Spartans at Hughes Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Rams have been out of action since being caught in a slugfest versus Texas-El Paso on Sept. 28, a battle that resulted in a 59-42 win for CSU. The victory was the second in the last three outings for a Colorado State team which will now play exclusively against MWC opponents for the remainder of the regular season.
As for the Spartans, they've split their first two Mountain West games and enter the week in fifth place in the West Division of the league standings. Like the Rams, SJSU has just two wins overall on the campaign, the most recent of those coming last Saturday night at Hawaii in a 37-27 final. The victory snapped a three-game slide and was the team's first against another member of the Football Bowl Subdivision.
San Jose State began the 2013 campaign with a 24-0 blanking of FCS foe Sacramento State at home.
Last year, CSU bowed to the Spartans in a 40-20 final, which means the all- time series is now locked at three games apiece.
Trailing by double digits in the first quarter against Hawaii at Aloha Stadium last Saturday night, the Spartans needed a spark to get them moving in the right direction and they eventually found it in David Fales as the quarterback led the squad to the 10-point road win. Just their second victory in five tries on the campaign, SJSU was guided by Fales who threw for 318 yards and three touchdowns, although he did complete fewer than 50 percent of his attempts and was intercepted twice.
Tyler Winston responded with six catches for a game-high 159 yards and a score, while the rushing attack produced another 216 yards and a TD on 55 attempts. Defensively, Christian Tago notched a sack and an interception, while Simon Connette tallied an INT and a fumble recovery.
Despite the efforts of Tago and Connette the last time out, San Jose State is still on the negative side of the turnover ledger, registering minus-0.6 miscues per contest, and that has the group tied for 97th in the country at the moment. Were it not for the shutout against Sacramento State to begin the season, one can only imagine what the scoring defense would look like, currently ranked 80th in the nation with 28.8 ppg allowed.
Obviously, the SJSU offense is heavily dependent on Fales and his 129.90 efficiency rating. One of the most accurate passers in the country a year ago, Fales is hitting on just 56.0 percent of his attempts this season, leading to almost as many INTs (seven) as TDs (nine). Good thing Fales has Chandler Jones (31 receptions, 580 yards, five TDs) or else the season would appear even more dismal for the Spartans.
Outside of the 31-6 loss to Alabama, which considering the Crimson Tide are the cream of the crop again this year really isn't all that bad of an effort, the Rams have been rather solid on offense in 2013. Quarterback Garrett Grayson has been a steady hand in the huddle for the Rams, completing 58.5 percent of his pass attempts for seven touchdowns and just two interceptions. Rashard Higgins may lead the team with 22 catches for 327 yards, but his three TDs are matched by Kivon Cartwright who has just 11 receptions.
Chris Nwoke was thought to be the go-to guy coming out of the backfield coming into the season, but with 300 yards and just a single score on 66 carries he is actually trailing Kapri Bibbs who has landed in the end zone six times on 53 attempts, while averaging close to seven yards per carry.
A couple of knocks against Colorado State has the team allowing 282.6 ypg through the air, 107th in the nation this week, and being flagged for 70.4 yards per game in penalties, also on the high end compared to the rest of the FBS.
However, making a name for himself on the defensive side of the ball is Shaquil Barrett who is second on the unit in total tackles with 39 and by far the top performer when it comes to tackles for loss (12.5) and sacks (6.5), numbers which also place him among the best in the MWC at the moment.
The key to this meeting will be how the secondary for the Rams handles Fales when he starts to attack over the top. If the SJSU signal caller has his way, it could be a long day for Colorado State.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Jose State 34, Colorado State 21
10/09 10:35:14 ET