Utah State (2-4) at Colorado State (1-4)
Kickoff: Saturday, 5 p.m. MDT
Venue: Canvas Stadium, Fort Collins (36,500 capacity)
TV: CBS Sports Network
Livestream: CBS Sports Network Live
Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM
Series: Utah State is 36-39-2 all-time against Colorado State, including 16-19-1 record on the road. The Aggies have won the last three meetings in the series and have won six of the last nine games played against the Rams.
Weather: Mostly cloudy with temperatures in the low-60s at kickoff, with a 0% chance of precipitation and winds (8 mph) out of the northeast.
For Utah State: The Aggies are 2-4 overall coming off a potentially season-changing victory against Air Force. Utah State had shown signs of life in the weeks prior to the win over the Falcons, in losses to UNLV and BYU, and put together its most complete game of the season last weekend.
For Colorado State: The Rams are 1-4 on the year, with losses to Michigan, Middle Tennessee, Washington State and Sacramento State, but just recorded their first win of the season, against Nevada, last weekend. Colorado State has struggled offensively all year, but held the Wolfpack to just two touchdowns in the win.
What to watch for
Has Utah State turned its season around? Has Colorado State done the same? Both the Aggies and Rams started the year in less than stellar fashion, combing to go 1-8 prior to last weekend, before winning games against Air Force and Nevada, respectively.
With new starting quarterback Cooper Legas under center, Utah State’s offense has played the best it has all year, and while statistically the Aggies aren’t world beaters on offense — nationally USU ranks No. 61 in rushing offense, No. 104 in passing offense — they have quietly improved to become a middle of the pack team — or better — offensively in the Mountain West Conference.
Defensively, Utah State remains one of the best in all of college football at creating tackles for loss — now tied for No. 26 overall with 41 total TFLs, an average of 6.8 per game — but has struggled against the run (ranked No. 119 nationally in rushing defense) while being solid against the pass (ranked No. 34 in passing defense), though those numbers haven’t made the Aggies anything better than a middle-of-the-road defense in the MW.
For as bad as Utah State was early this season, Colorado State was worse and remains in the bottom third in the MW in nearly every statistical category, offense or defense.
The Rams have lost at least 13 players to the transfer portal since the beginning of the season, per The Coloradoan’s Kevin Lytle, many of whom were key contributors or expected to be.
On offense, Colorado State has scored the fewest touchdowns of any MW team (eight total), and as a result has the worst scoring offense in the league. The Rams have the worst total offense too, averaging just 244.4 yards per game.
It doesn’t get better on defense, either, as the Rams rate last in the MW in passing defense (giving up 250 yards through the air per game) and are a mid tier team — No. 7 — against the run, giving up 153 yards per game.
Cooper Legas, QB, Utah State: Colorado State head coach Jay Norvell expects multiple quarterbacks to play for his team, as injuries have wrecked havoc on an already inexperienced quarterback room.
Utah State, meanwhile, appears settled with Legas.
In four games played this season, Legas has thrown for 443 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.
Since taking over as Utah State’s starting quarterback, though, Legas has been dynamic, throwing for 403 yards and all four of his touchdowns, while also rushing for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
Legas has completed nearly 70% of his passes since taking over as the Aggies’ full-time quarterback and USU’s offense has improved by leaps and bounds with him under center in the shotgun, recording season-highs in points scored, touchdowns and yards of offense in the win against Air Force.
“They’re (Colorado State) going to come in with a lot of confidence. They got over the hump. They found a way to win, so we know we’re going to get their best shot, we’re going to get the best they’ve got.” — Utah State coach Blake Anderson
“This (Utah State) is a hard playing team that is getting better. They won a big game this weekend. Have had some issues, have had to play different quarterbacks, but they won a really important game last week against Air Force and seem to have found themselves.” — Colorado State coach Jay Norvell
Utah State is on the road again next Saturday, Oct. 22, and will travel to Laramie, Wyoming to take on the rival Cowboys in the “Battle for Bridger’s Rifle.” Colorado State will stay home the same weekend and host Hawaii that Saturday afternoon.
Utah State schedule
Aug. 27 — Utah State 31, UConn 20
Sept. 3 — No. 1 Alabama 55, Utah State 0
Sept. 10 — Weber State 35, Utah State 7
Sept. 17 — BYE
Sept. 24 — UNLV 34, Utah State 24
Sept. 29 — No. 16 BYU 38, Utah State 26
Oct. 8 — Utah State 34, Air Force 27
Oct. 15 — Utah State at Colorado State
Oct. 22 — Utah State at Wyoming
Oct. 29 — BYE
Nov. 5 — Utah State vs. New Mexico
Nov. 12 — Utah State at Hawaii
Nov. 19 — Utah State vs. San José State
Nov. 25 — Utah State at Boise State
All times MT.