Colorado State Fresno St Football

Colorado State quarterback Patrick O'Brien drops back to pass against Fresno State during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Fresno, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 26 2019.

Quarterback

Neither Colorado State’s nor Wyoming’s starting quarterback started this season under center. Redshirt sophomore Tyler Vander Waal has had an up-and-down season since taking over for an injured Sean Chambers. CSU’s Patrick O’Brien, however, has been the model of consistency. Since assuming the starting role from Collin Hill (knee injury) partway through the Rams’ game at Arkansas, O’Brien has thrown 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. The Nebraska transfer has helped keep the Rams’ offense humming to the tune of just under 31 points per game.

Advantage: Colorado State

Running back

When Colorado State running back Marvin Kinsey Jr. was suspended from the team last month, most figured their rushing attack would struggle. That has not been the case, though, as Marcus McElroy filled in admirably with 199 yards and three touchdowns over the past three contests. Both backfields figure to be thin, as UW’s Xazavian Valladay (knee) was held out of practice earlier this week, but is likely to play. Trey Smith and Titus Swen, however, are still likely to be out. This matchup is about the starters, and the edge goes to Valladay, given his recent consistency (four consecutive 100 yard games).

Advantage: Wyoming

Wide receiver and tight end

Wyoming’s tendency to run the ball over throwing it is well documented. Because of that, UW’s three leading receivers have a combined 48 catches. Colorado State’s Warren Jackson has 63 receptions by himself, while Dante Wright has 52. Volume of passes thrown is, as always, part of the story. But CSU’s receivers are as good as it gets.

Advantage: Colorado State

Offensive line

Wyoming welcomes Alonzo Velazquez and Zach Watts back to the starting lineup this week, which should provide a boost for a unit that was already performing well, despite a shuffling of bodies. UW averages 219.6 yards per game on the ground and has surrendered just 13 sacks (tied for 15th nationally). Colorado State has had issues protecting the passer, having given up 25 sacks this season.

Advantage: Wyoming

Defensive line

Despite not having a player with more than 6½ sacks, Wyoming is tied for 19th nationally with three sacks per game. CSU is middle-of-the-pack in that department, tied for 59th. Wyoming also features a superior run defense, and UW’s big guys up the middle play their part in that department, as well.

Advantage: Wyoming

Linebacker

UW’s Logan Wilson is the best linebacker in the Mountain West, plain and simple. He is not alone in the middle of the defense, though, as Cassh Maluia, Chad Muma and Keyon Blakenbaker are prolific in their own right. CSU’s run defense is among the worst in the country, and much of that is a result of play from the defensive line and linebackers.

Advantage: Wyoming

Secondary

As bad as their run defense is, the Rams are that good against the pass, ranking 17th nationally (184.5 yards per game). Now, much of that is because teams try to run against Colorado State early and don’t feel the need to air it out; CSU’s opponents have thrown the 13th fewest passes in college football this season. That being said, Wyoming ranks 120th in pass defense and allows 282.1 yards per game for a reason: they have been prone to breakdowns in coverage, as was evident last weekend at Utah State.

Advantage: Colorado State

Special teams

CSU’s Ryan Stonehouse is among the best punters in the country. That’s no disrespect to UW’s Ryan Galovich; Stonehouse is just really that good. Wyoming’s Cooper Rothe and Colorado State’s Cayden Camper have both had struggles with field goal accuracy this season. CSU’s Anthony Hawkins ranks ninth nationally in kickoff return average (28.6 yards per return); Austin Conway ranks ninth in punt return average for the Cowboys. This one is about as close to a wash as possible.

Advantage: Push

Final score: Wyoming 24, Colorado State 20

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