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BOISE, Idaho — The Colorado State football team was dealt a harsh dose of reality on Saturday night when it was outmatched in every aspect of a 37-24 road loss at Boise State.
Any jovial feelings that were looming from the Rams’ victory in the Rocky Mountain Showdown a week before were soon replaced with the sobering realization that their climb through the Mountain West may be a more daunting task than originally thought.
The Broncos made sure that point was driven home in the conference-opener, tearing apart CSU’s defense with 676 yards and holding the Rams to a mere 10 points heading into the game’s final quarter.
CSU was unable to develop any sort of rebuttal on both sides of the ball. Boise State running back Jay Ajayi, who finished with 280 total yards and three touchdowns, was faster than every member of the Rams’ defense. He knew it, they knew it, all 34,910 in attendance knew it as the roar from the crowd at Albertsons Stadium erupted every time he found open space on the blue artificial turf.
“He’s a big, strong guy and I give a lot of credit to him. Like I said, it’s on us to get him down and tackle him,” linebacker Aaron Davis said after the game.
After quarterback Garrett Grayson connected with Steven Walker for a 24-yard touchdown pass to bring CSU back to within three points late in the first quarter, the Rams’ offensive production came to an abrupt halt.
The rushing game that yielded 266 yards against CU-Boulder was held to just 28 while challenging Boise State. Running back Dee Hart, who had a breakout performance in week one, led the Rams with 16 yards on the ground.
“I think they took it to us pretty good. They handled us and my hat’s off to them,” head coach Jim McElwain said. “I certainly wish we could get another piece of them, to be honest.”
The 13-point margin of defeat suggests a less-severe handling than the game that was really dominated on Boise State’s end, thanks to the silver lining that was Grayson’s performance.
Grayson began to chip away at his team’s 27-point deficit in the fourth quarter. He added two late touchdown passes, one to Joe Hansley and the other to Jasen Oden Jr. from 55 and 7 yards out, respectively. He threw two interceptions, but still managed to rack up a career-high 434 yards by connecting on 31 of his 58 pass attempts.
“All I know is at the end of the day, I’d rather play like I did last week and win a football game than put up those yards like I did this week and lose,” Grayson said. “A loss is a loss in my book, so I don’t really care what I did.”
Saturday’s result put both the Broncos and Rams at a 1-1 standing this season. However, it will give Boise State the edge in the event a race for the Mountain division ends in a tie-breaking scenario. Utah State, which is also expected to be a contender, shares the same record.
Next up, the Rams will play their home-opener against UC Davis at 1 p.m. next Saturday.
“There’s a reason they’re Boise State. There’s a reason why they’re the top dog of the conference, and have been for the last 5-10 years,” Grayson said. “At the end of the day, you just need to tip your hat to them. They’re a hell of a team.”
Collegian Sports Reporter Quentin Sickafoose can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @QSickafoose.