FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A spark from a sophomore running back and a refocused offensive line revitalized Colorado State's rushing attack Saturday at Hughes Stadium.
Kyle Bell rushed for a career-high 183 yards on 33 carries and his first career touchdown to propel Colorado State to its first win of the season, a 42-21 victory over Nevada.
It was the most rushing yards for a Rams running back since Henri Childs had 237 yards against BYU in 2001.
The Rams had averaged just 77 yards rushing in their first two games, but piled up 257 in the victory. CSU (1-2) scored touchdowns on its first three possessions for an early 21-0 lead.
"We knew what we had to do coming in," Bell said. "We finally got a chance to get in a flow in the game, and that's something we lacked in the first two games."
Bell had more yards — 87 — in the first quarter than he had in the Rams' first two games combined.
"Kyle's in such good condition that he could have played another quarter, and that's a tribute to him," Colorado State head coach Sonny Lubick said. "He was just a workhorse in there."
Colorado State quarterback Justin Holland threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns to give the Rams a balanced attack against the Wolf Pack (1-2). He threw touchdown passes of 26 and 23 yards to Johnny Walker and George Hill respectively on the Rams' first two possessions.
Walker finished with a career-high 120 yards and one touchdown.
"The credit's got to go to the offensive line," Holland said. "I can't emphasize how important running the ball is to our team. It makes it so much easier for me to run the offense. We knew it was there all along, and the coaches told the o-line all week we were going to run the ball and we did."
The Rams offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage all game, paving the way for 480 yards of total offense.
"Today was all about execution and focusing," center Albert Bimper said. "We tried to be physical and put guys on the ground."
The Rams' third touchdown, a 2-yard run by Tristan Walker, came one play after David Anderson blocked Justin Bergendahl's punt and Zac Bryson recovered it on the 2-yard-line. It was Colorado State's first blocked punt since 2001.
Colorado State's early momentum ended when Kevin Mack missed a 27-yard field goal late in the first quarter. Nevada capitalized with a 12-play, 80-yard drive to cut the Rams' lead to 21-7 on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Rowe to B.J. Mitchell.
Late in the third quarter, Bell fumbled at the Rams' 43. On the next play, Kyle Sammons caught a 43-yard touchdown pass from Rowe, cutting CSU's lead to 21-14. It was as close as the Wolf Pack would get.
After his fumble led to a Wolf Pack touchdown, Bell then put Colorado State up 28-14 early in the fourth quarter with his first career touchdown, a 1-yard run. The Rams added a six-yard touchdown reception by tight end Matt Barts and a 40-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Damon Martin on an end-around.
WYOMING 24, MISSISSIPPI 14: At Oxford, Miss., Corey Bramlet threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns to help Wyoming beat Mississippi.
Wyoming (3-1) beat the Rebels 37-32 last season in Laramie.
Bramlet finished 17-of-33, and Wynel Seldon added 124 yards rushing and 78 receiving, including a five-yard touchdown run.
The Cowboys rolled up 383 yards of total offense and forced Ole Miss into four turnovers, spoiling Mississippi coach Ed Orgeron's home debut.
The home loss was the most lopsided since a 27-7 loss to Southern Mississippi in 1983. The Rebels had won 24 of the previous 26 games in Oxford against nonconference opponents.
The Rebels (1-2) struggled offensively. Quarterback Robert Lane was ineffective in replacing injured starter Michael Spurlock, who broke the middle finger on his left hand in last week's loss to Vanderbilt.
Spurlock played in the second half, but was unable to rally the Rebels past the Cowboys. Spurlock finished 5-of-14 for 83 yards and a touchdown. Lane was 7-of-15 for 37 yards and turned the ball over on three consecutive series to open the third period.
With the score tied, Jovan Bouknight scored on a 29-yard screen pass from Bramlet with 50 seconds remaining in the first half for a 13-7 lead.
Wyoming took a 16-7 lead on a 53-yard field goal by Deric Yaussi, after Luke Chase recovered a fumble by Lane on the opening play of the second half.
The Cowboys went up 24-7 on a 4-yard touchdown pass to Wade Betschart with six seconds remaining in the third period after Ole Miss punter Will Mosely mishandled the snap and managed to lose eight yards on a punt.
Spurlock threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Mike Espy with 1:33 left.
SAN DIEGO ST. 52, SAN JOSE ST. 21: At San Diego, Kevin O'Connell threw a career-high four touchdown passes as San Diego State won its first game of the season.
O'Connell, a sophomore, completed 23 of 29 passes for a career-best 271 yards as the Aztecs (1-3) rebounded from last week's 27-6 loss at No. 8 Ohio State.
Robert Ortiz caught first-half TD passes of 25 and 18 yards as San Diego State took a 28-14 halftime lead over the Spartans (1-2).
San Diego State, which avoided losing its first four games of the season for the second time in four years, had 301 yards of offense in the first half. O'Connell was 16-for-20 passing in the first half for 213 yards.
The Aztecs finished with 513 yards of total offense.
Patrick Perry scored for San Jose State on runs of 7 and 2 yards, both in the first quarter, and Chad Bozzo hit Rufus Skillern with a 27-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth period.
The game was tied at 14 after one quarter as each team scored on its first two possessions. O'Connell connected with Ortiz on a 25-yard touchdown pass and Perry scored from seven yards out. O'Connell then hit Jeff Webb with a 33-yard scoring pass. Perry tied the score again, scoring from the 2.
Lynell Hamilton also scored in the first half for San Diego State on a 4-yard run.
O'Connell's last touchdown pass went 2 yards to Lance Louis. Darren Mougey threw a 23-yard touchdown to DeMarco Sampson and Brett Sturm added a 44-yard interception return for a touchdown.
UTEP 21, NEW MEXICO 13: At El Paso, Texas, Joe Fleskoski returned an interception 68 yards for a touchdown and Nate Draughon recovered a blocked punt in the end zone as UTEP struck for two quick third quarter scores in a win over New Mexico.
The Miners (3-0) took control in a span of less than 3 1/2 minutes in the third quarter.
With New Mexico (3-1) driving midway through the period and the crowd of 50,425 mostly UTEP fans on edge, Fleskoski picked off Kole McKamey's pass at the Miners' 32, broke to the sideline and went in untouched with 8:33 left in the third.
On the ensuing kickoff, New Mexico's Marcus Smith had trouble fielding the ball and was tackled at the Lobos' 10.
The Miners, aided by a couple of offside penalties against New Mexico, forced a punt and Chris Francies blocked Tyler Gaus' kick. Draughon fell on the ball near the back of the end zone and the Miners had turned a 10-7 deficit into a 21-10 lead.