CSU vs. UNLV football preview

Emmett McCarthy

Colorado State can take another step toward being bowl eligible, and also send its seniors off with a win, Saturday in the final home game of the season at Hughes Stadium.

In the Rams’ way is UNLV, led by first-year head coach Tony Sanchez. The Runnin’ Rebels entered the season with low expectations and their record hasn’t given us reason to think otherwise. But, a closer look at the games reveals an inspired team that has played up to opponents’ levels on several occasions.

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UNLV isn’t exactly taking the conference by storm, but neither is CSU. The Rams’ task this week is a slight step up from last week’s Border War win against Wyoming. Here’s what CSU can do to win on senior night:

Balance the offense

The Rams have been run heavy as of late, and who can blame them? It’s been working well, even last week when the train, better known as Jasen Oden Jr., was out with an arm injury. Dalyn Dawkins seized the opportunity, running for 140 yards, and Izzy Matthews did his part as well, with two rushing touchdowns. CSU has three talented backs who all provide different skill sets. And, UNLV knows it. The Rebels will load the box, so now it’s time for the Rams to get back to passing. The receiving corp was supposed to be CSU’s greatest strength this season. This week would be a good time to remind folks that one of the best receivers in the nation, Rashard Higgins, still dons the green and gold.

Make them quit

Mike Bobo took his foot off of the pedal a bit last week against Wyoming after taking a commanding lead in the first half. That was fine against a weaker team like the Pokes, especially when Bobo had already said that the goal was to eliminate turnovers at all costs. But, UNLV is not the same pushover that Wyoming was. The Rams have led in eight of nine games this season. If they get an edge at home, they need to keep piling on and never look back.

Avoid the flags

The Rams are one of the most penalized teams in the nation. CSU averaged 80.4 penalty yards per game, which is more than 121 FBS schools (out of 128). Even in the win against Wyoming, the team managed to rack up 10 penalties for 101 yards. Flags brought back a 75-yard touchdown run by Deionte Gaines, as well as a 47-yard punt return by Joe Hansley. CSU got the turnover issue corrected last week; next up is the flags. The Rams should be the better team, so the key is not beating themselves.

Collegian Sports Editor Emmett McCarthy can be reached by e-mail at sports@collegian.com and on Twitter @emccarthy22.