Three Keys with Keegs: Boise State at Colorado State

Keegan Pope

Colorado State (2-3, 0-1 Mountain West) and Boise State (4-1, 1-0 MW) face off in a key matchup at Hughes Stadium Saturday. The Rams, coming off a loss to Utah State last Saturday, will look to get their season back on track against a Broncos team that recently re-entered the top-25 polls. 

When the Rams and Broncos face off Saturday, look out for these three key matchups:

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Colorado State wide receiver Rashard Higgins vs. Boise State cornerback Donte Deayon 

Coaches and players always preach about the importance of going “best-on-best.” That’s exactly what they’ll get when Higgins and Deayon face off Saturday night. Higgins is returning consensus All-American and a likely finalist for the Biletnikoff award. Deayon is a two-time Jim Thorpe Award (given to the nation’s best defensive back) candidate and is second all-time on the Mountain West’s career interceptions list. Along with safety Darian Thompson, Deayon gives Boise State one of the best secondaries in the country. They will have their hands full with CSU’s wide receiver group and Higgins in particular. 

Colorado State offensive line vs. Boise State front seven

If CSU has any shot to beat the Broncos Saturday at Hughes Stadium, its offensive line will have to come up huge. Boise State’s defense is among the best in the nation, especially against the run, and CSU knows that very well. The Rams could only muster 28 yards last year in CSU’s loss 35-24, and the Broncos are even better against the run than they were a year ago. If CSU can run the ball effectively, they might be able to set up quarterback Nick Stevens in the play-action passing game. If not, it will be a very, very long day for the Rams’ offense. 

Boise State running back Jeremy McNichols vs. Colorado State red-zone defense

There hasn’t been a better running back near the end zone this season than McNichols. Despite averaging just 4.6 yards per rush and 76 yards per game, McNichols is tied for second in the FBS with 10 rushing touchdowns. CSU’s defense hasn’t been great in the red zone, ranking 79th in the FBS. Boise State’s offense will be able to move the ball against CSU, but if the Rams can hold the Broncos to field goals, they’ll give themselves a lot better shot to win.

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