When Fresno State is running the ball: Running back Dwayne Wright is currently ranked sixth in the nation in rushing with almost 150 yards per game. Wright is the best running back that the Rams will face all season and will give CSU a good idea how the rest of the season will go. If the Rams are able to hold Wright under 100 yards, then CSU will almost certainly come out on top. If Wright gains his average then the Rammies are in trouble. Wright will more than likely finish near 200 yards rushing against the Rams undersized defensive line.
Advantage: Fresno State
When Fresno State is passing the ball: Quarterback Tom Brandstater is the biggest question mark coming into the game. Brandstater, who has thrown both three interceptions and three touchdowns this season, will be facing a Rams defense that has been able to get a consistent pass rush from its front seven. The biggest weakness of the Rams pass defense is their ability to cause interceptions. Last season through three games, CSU had four picks, while this year the defense has only generated one. The defensive backfield must force at least two turnovers for the Rams to have a chance.
When CSU is running the ball: The previous six words make it seem like CSU will be running the ball Saturday, however, that is likely not to be the case. CSU has had trouble rushing against teams like Weber State, let alone teams with the caliber of Fresno State. Fresno State’s front line is anchored by defensive tackles Louis Leonard and Jason Shirley, who both tip the scales at a lean 330 pounds. CSU must find a go-to running back in this game to be set on one for conference play. Look for Nnamdi Oheari to be this back.
Advantage: Fresno State
When CSU is passing the ball: Caleb Hanie has played well as starter this season, however he has only thrown one touchdown this season, a red-zone strike to Kory Sperry against Colorado-Boulder. Hanie’s completion percentage is a sharp 70 percent this season and Fresno State has yet to cause an interception this season. Fresno State’s cornerbacks should be overlooked however, with both Damon Jenkins and Marcus McCauley being second-year starters.
Prediction: Fresno State is at home, is coming off a stinging loss to Washington, and has more experience playing big games. CSU is also hungry, but Fresno’s ability to run the ball will be the reason the Bulldogs will walk out of its stadium with a W.
Final Score: Fresno State 27, CSU 17