FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Something has to give today in Hughes Stadium when Colorado State hosts BYU.
Either CSU's defense, ranked No. 2 in the league, will slow down the high-flying Cougar offense, or BYU's balanced attack will mark its territory just as it has done against half the league so far this season.
The Cougars (6-2, 4-0) and Rams (4-4, 1-3) play today at 4:30 p.m. The game will be televised live on The mtn.
A third notion in this matchup is that CSU's Caleb Hanie will throw a lot of bombs at the Cougar secondary, hoping for home runs to make up for a lack of Ram running attack. How will the Cougars respond?
Last year the Ram defense struggled. Teams ran at will against them and they yielded chunks of yardage. Today, however, CSU's defense ranks behind Wyoming, as best in the league, allowing just over 275 yards per game, 15th in the NCAA.
"Defensively they've improved," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said.
"I see a more confident group, and their scheme is almost identical to what we've seen in the past. They play with a different aggressive nature from what I've seen before. Teams have a difficult time running the football against them."
There is an interesting matchup situation in CSU's defensive statistics — the Rams have faced at lot of rookie or freshmen quarterbacks in league play including New Mexico's Donovan Porterie, Wyoming's Kartsen Sween, UNLV's Rocky Hines.
Today, they'll face BYU senior John Beck, who just made the final five on the list for the 2006 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.
Said Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry this week: "Beck throws as well as (Ty) Detmer. He's an athlete. He scored twice on ad-lib plays when he shot it like a basketball."
The Cougar offense ranks No. 6 in the NCAA, and its passing game ranks No. 4.
Offensively, the Rams are without the services of Kyle Bell, one of the MWC's top rushers a year ago. Bell injured his right knee before the season began. This has forced the Rams to go to the air with Hanie leading the way. He has a pass efficiency rating of 137.7.
"The (CSU) offensive perspective, where I spend most of my time, is that they throw the ball well," Mendenhall said.
"The running game has certainly been acknowledged in the past and has been a part of the championships that they have won. The schemes are similar, but the yards-per-rush are quite lower than what is has been before, and so that is why they might have lost a little balance from the years before."
Cougars on the air
BYU (6-2, 4-0) at Colorado St. (4-4, 1-3)
Today, 4:30 p.m.
TV: The mtn.
Radio: 1160AM, 102.7FM