When the Utah State football team meets Colorado State on the gridiron on Saturday, it will be the 70th time the Aggies and Rams have clashed.
CSU leads the all-time series 36-31-2, but the Aggies won in convincing fashion last season, 31-19 in Fort Collins. This time around, USU has a 1-game lead over Colorado State in the Mountain West standings, though both are chasing Boise State.
“We’re in the middle of the Mountain West race and who knows how this thing is going to unfold here in the next couple of weeks,” USU head coach Matt Wells said. “We’ve got a 12-day stretch here where we’ve got to give everything we’ve got from both a coaching standpoint and a player standpoint. This is a big game against Colorado State.”
Sitting at 6-5 overall and 4-2 in MWC play, the Rams have beaten opponents behind a balanced offensive attack that features Garrett Grayson under center and Kapri Bibbs in the backfield.
Grayson and Bibbs have combined for 43 touchdowns this season and more than 4,000 yards of offense.
“He has mobility, he has escapability, and he’s a very accurate throwing,” Wells said of Grayson. “You can tell by a lot of the stuff that they do, the audibles and double counts, that he’s got a really good feel. I’m sure Coach (Dave) Baldwin has him very schooled up in what they’re doing. They’re very comfortable with what his abilities are right now. To flip on the tape and see Garrett as I have over the last few weeks, I’m impressed with his performance.”
In their most recent game, a 66-42 win over New Mexico, the Rams piled up 649 yards of total offense. Grayson threw for 302 yards and three touchdowns, while Bibbs ran all over the Lobos for 291 yards and six touchdowns.
“He’s a back that runs with great vision and great balance, and has homerun speed at the end,” Wells said. “You can tell on tape that guys have a lot of trouble getting him down. It will be a big challenge for our defense, not only the front seven, but the secondary as well.”
Wells said Bibbs production forces opponents to play the run, which allows the Rams’ receivers to get open.
“It’s just play-action,” Wells said. “Anytime you’ve got a running back that has been that productive and you scheme up movement passes and play-action passes and shot passes that are the same as in the run game, that helps the receivers get open.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Colorado State has had its share of struggles. The Rams are ranked 94th nationally in points against having allowed an average of 31.5 points per game to opponents.
CSU has also allowed 450.5 yards of offense per game — 103rd in the country — but Wells said not to let the numbers be deceptive.
“They’ve played well and have stuck around in games,” Wells said. “They’ve made some opportunistic turnovers and things like that on their defense. Basically, it comes down to us, as we talk about in our offensive room. It’s all about us and what we do and how we do it. We’re going to have to execute and play really well and at a very high level to win the game Saturday.”
Kickoff between USU and CSU is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at Romney Stadium.