Analysis: CSU sings same old song in 41-17 blowout loss to San Diego State

Keegan Pope

Colorado State wide receiver Joe Hansley, left, attempts to make a one-handed catch during the Rams' 41-17 loss to San Diego State. (Abbie Parr/Collegian)
Colorado State wide receiver Joe Hansley, left, attempts to make a one-handed catch during the Rams’ 41-17 loss to San Diego State. (Abbie Parr/Collegian)

Same story, different week.

Like so many other times this year, Colorado State simply couldn’t get out of its own way Saturday afternoon against San Diego State. Penalties, turnovers and mental errors doomed the Rams in what could have been a pivotal win over the Aztecs, who came into Saturday’s game as the only undefeated team in conference play.


Instead, the Rams turned the ball over four times, committed seven penalties, and were beaten by a San Diego State passing offense that came into the game ranked No. 119 in the FBS in passing offense. CSU’s defense, which held the Aztecs’ potent rushing attack to just 69 yards in the first half, was gashed time and time again in the second half while allowing the Aztecs to rack up 207 rushing yards in final 30 minutes to salt away a 41-17 victory and move to 6-3 overall and 5-0 in the Mountain West.

“Same song, different verse for this season,” CSU head coach Mike Bobo said after the game. “You can sit here and say we’re unlucky, but that’s what teams do that lose ball games.  (We) turn the ball over, (we have) missed opportunities and we can’t stop the run. If you can’t run the ball, you can’t stop the run and you turn the ball over, that’s a recipe for not having success.”

Running back Jasen Oden Jr. fumbled at the goal line on what looked like a missed call by the Mountain West refereeing crew early in the first quarter that would’ve tied the game at 7. Quarterback Nick Stevens started the game 7-for-7, but was intercepted twice in his next three passes, both of which killed promising drives where CSU moved into San Diego State territory. The latter of the two came with just eight seconds to play in the first half with CSU driving at the SDSU 48. Rather than possibly taking a 13-10 lead into halftime, the Rams went into the locker room trailing 13-10 after a 54-yard field goal from Aztecs’ kicker Donny Hageman. 

“I think we could have had points on that drive,” Stevens said after the game. “It wasn’t a guarantee because we weren’t in field goal range yet, but we at least had a shot to score a touchdown or field, and at the very least not give them any points. That was a huge play, and that was a mistake on my part.”

San Diego State dominated from there, breaking off runs of 64 and 46 yards in the second half, while intercepting Stevens once more and returning it for a 55-yard touchdown. A game that seemed within CSU’s reach at the half quickly turned in Halloween horror show, with fans exiting left and right. The already-abysmal crowd of 18,125 was reduced to less than 1,000 by the time the third quarter ended. 

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Photos: Abbie Parr

Coming into Saturday’s game, CSU ranked No. 122 out of 128 FBS teams in turnover margin, ahead of just Eastern Michigan, Hawaii, Virginia, Maryland and Central Florida. The Rams are likely to fall even further down the list after giving the ball away four times while not being able to create a single takeaway.

“It ain’t fun when you lose, and it ain’t fun when you lose 41-17,” Bobo said. “We’ve got to figure it out. We might just take a knee three times and punt, and see if we can’t turn it over and win a ball game. I don’t know what we’re going to do – I’ve never had this many turnovers in my life.”

CSU now turns its attention to interstate rival Wyoming, who ranks slightly ahead of the Rams in turnover margin, coming in at No. 108 in the FBS. The Cowboys (1-8, 1-4 Mountain West), are coming off a 58-27 road loss to Utah State, and will host the Rams at War Memorial Stadium on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.


Collegian Senior Sports Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.