Pregame Light Show Dazzles, CSU Doesn’t
By: Nick Baker
The Border War returned to Fort Collins on Friday. Colorado State debuted their new stadium effect, a dazzling light show in CSU’s first night-game of the year. A brisk October night made for great game conditions, mid-50-degree weather and no significant weather. 32,125 attended this Tackle Cancer game, despite CSU’s somewhat disappointing home games earlier this season.
A Wyoming offense that has struggled to put up points (averaging 15.5 a game) came to town, taking on a Colorado State defense that has been porous to say the least (allowing 37.8 point per game). On the other hand, an explosive CSU offense (25 PPG) faced off against a solid Wyoming defense (25.5 PPG allowed). The clear story in this one was weak vs. weak on one front and strong vs. strong on the other; which unit will step up?
Collin Hill made news leading up to the game as it was announced K.J. Carta-Samuels would be benched, and Hill would be the new starting QB in his place. With high hopes looming, Hill took the field for his first drive and the team went three-and-out with an abysmal -11 yards. In his first few drives the redshirt-sophomore looked uncomfortable and wasn’t helped by the rushing attack that finished the first quarter with -7 yards and finished the first half with a total of -12.
The first blood was drawn with 11:27 left in the 2ndquarter, as Cooper Rothe nailed a 30-yard field goal to give Wyoming a (3-0) lead early. Though CSU allowed points, one may argue that the drive was a success for them, as Wyoming was very close to scoring. A holding penalty and Ellison Hubbard’s tackle for loss left Wyoming with not choice but to kick. After an offense-less first quarter, keeping a touchdown off the board was crucial for the Rams.
To end the first half, kicker Wyatt Bryan missed a 53-yard field goal to potentially tie the game. Collin Hill was 14-23 for 123 yards, Matthews, Kinsey Jr. and McElroy combined for -12 rushing yards and Preston Williams led all receivers with 5 catches for 66 yards. CSU’s offense totaled eight first downs but couldn’t convert any of their drives into points. Wyoming’s quarterback was just 2-4 for 33 yards but dazzled on the ground carrying the ball 10 times for 60 yards. Nico Evans also rushed efficiently with 12 totes for 47 yards.
Wyoming started the second half explosively with 4 straight rushes for 26 yards but stalled out on CSU’s 31… until Damion Dickens’ hands to the face penalty set the Cowboys up for a 14-yard touchdown pass from Chambers to Nico Evans. With 11:08 left in the 3rdquarter the Rams trailed 10-0.
With just over 7 minutes left in the third quarter, safety Marcus Epps hammered Hill while he threw, resulting in an (Defensive Tackle) Ravontae Holt interception. After a review it was ruled a fumble, either way it was Wyoming’s ball on CSU’s 24 yard-line. The drive resulted in a Sean Chambers 8-yard TD run to give Wyoming a commanding (17-0) lead.
Just two minutes later Cassh Maluia intercepted Collin Hill, giving Wyoming the ball on CSU’s 48. The interception wasn’t all Hill’s fault though, as it was tipped up by the receiver. And then… One play. One Touchdown. Nico Evans followed up the pick with a 48-yard touchdown, putting Wyoming up (24-0).
With just over a minute left in the quarter Colorado State finally got on the board with a 15-yard Marvin Kinsey Jr. rush. Ironic, after the poor rush attack up till that play that CSU would score their first points off of a run. After this drive CSU’s runners had 18 attempts, for 9 yards.
Wyoming followed up CSU’s touchdown with a long 9 play drive, taking up over four minutes to go 47 yards, and kick a 45-yard field goal. At (27-7), CSU needed to make something happen, and quick. The 12 minutes left on the score board were just enough to inspire hope, but the offense’s lack of explosion all but neutralized that hope.
That hope did contribute to a scoring drive however, as Marvin Kinsey Jr. brought it in for another rushing TD, this time a ten yarder. CSU’s offense was efficient, driving 74 yards on 7 plays in a minute and a half. Ten minutes and thirty-one second remained.
Tyree Mayfield all but executed that hope, with a 43-yard touchdown reception from chambers with a little under 8 minutes left in the game. Mayfield’s first catch of the ball game was a big one. A twenty-point Wyoming lead loomed large. This is where Collin Hill would really be put to the test.
On CSU’s next drive, Strong Safety Andrew Wingard was flagged for targeting. The play went under review, and the call was reversed. Why was this included in the recap? The fans. At this moment, Wyoming’s were actually louder than Colorado State’s (who had mostly left at this point. Less than a third remained). CSU’s drive came to a 4thand 9 on Wyoming’s 26 yard-line, and the team went for it. The pass fell incomplete, but a pass interference in the end zone resulted in a 1stand 10 on the 11-yard line for the Rams. Collin Hill capped off the drive with a one-yard TD rush, making the score (21-34).
CSU stopped Wyoming, took over on offense driving to make this two-possession game a little closer. Antonio Hull had different plans, intercepting the ball, and all but ending the game with 3:18 to go.
Can I say I was surprised? Honestly, yes. I expected at least a close game, and despite CSU losing by just 13 points, I felt like much more of a blowout than that. Collin Hill ended the day with 333 passing yards, which looks good until you reailize that was on 34 completions and a whopping 54 attempts, and combine it with his two interceptions and fumble lost. The run game got better- and I cringe to say better, but totaled a 20 yard net gain at the end despite Marvin Kinsey Jr.’s stat line of 5 carries for 24 yards. Preston Williams finished with 10 catches for 126 yards, Bisi Johnson with 5 for 56, and Kinsey had 9 for 47. If only there was even the tiniest threat of a rush attack, CSU’s offense would be lethal.
The failure to defend against the run continued as well, allowing two, yes TWO, hundred yard rushers and a net of 291 yards on the ground. Nico Evans shined with 28 touches for 176 yards and two total TDs, and QB Sean Chambers carried 22 times for 101 yards and a score.
Going into their second bye-week, Colorado has some big improvements to make. If they’re lucky, they can steal one or two wins in there final three games and their fans might stick around past half time in the final home game versus the currently ranked Utah State.
For more, follow Nick on Twitter @thebakernick, and listen live to KCSU’s sports show Monday-Thursday from 7-9pm.