WHEN BYU IS RUNNING THE BALL: When the Cougars defeated the Rams last year it was on the strength of their running game, not their fabled passing game. Brigham Young racked up 274 yards on the ground, mainly on the back of Curtis Brown. Brown is back for his senior season and, while his productivity is down from last year, he is still a threat against the Rams. CSU has been decent against the run, holding opponents to a respectable 3.3 yards per carry. This match-up is almost a toss-up, but Brown’s history against CSU may give BYU the edge.
WHEN BYU IS PASSING THE BALL: BYU’s passing offense comes into the game ranked fourth in the nation, averaging almost 300 passing yards a game. Quarterback John Beck is the best offensive player in the Mountain West and if he plays well, there may be no chance for the Rammies. Even though this looks like a daunting mismatch, the Rams haven’t exactly been slouches when it comes to defending the pass this season. The Rams are ranked 14th in the country, but they haven’t been able to avoid key mistakes, such as the coverage mix-ups that gave both Wyoming and New Mexico touchdowns.
WHEN CSU IS RUNNING THE BALL:
Nnamdi Ohaeri was inserted into the lineup to give the running game a fresh look against New Mexico. After his first few carries, it looked as if Ohaeri was the answer to the Rams’ running problems. However, as the game wore on the running holes got smaller, and Ohaeri found himself in the same spot as his predecessor, Gartrell Johnson III. BYU’s linebackers are some of the best in the country, led by All-American candidate Cameron Jensen.
WHEN CSU IS PASSING THE BALL:
Last week’s game against New Mexico was a refreshing departure from the passing output against Wyoming. Caleb Hanie looked sharp for most of the game, going 25 for 40 with two touchdowns; however, a key fourth quarter interception started the New Mexico comeback. Damon Morton and Johnny Walker are coming off good efforts and they will need to repeat those for CSU to have a chance. This is probably the one area where CSU has an advantage.
A lot of things have changed since the last time CSU defeated BYU on Oct. 9, 2003. In that game, CSU traveled to Provo and beat the Cougars 58-13, handing BYU its worse home loss in school history. BYU is now the team looking to stomp its opponents in their own houses. CSU needs all-world performances from its offensive line and defensive secondary to have a chance. BYU has beaten each one of its four conference opponents by at least 14 points this season. Look for this trend to continue.
BYU 41, CSU 24
Sports Editor Mike Donovan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.