For the first time in six years, the Colorado State football team (1-4, 0-1 MWC) will face back-to-back ranked opponents when it plays the Air Force Academy (4-1, 2-0) in Colorado Springs Saturday.
The Falcons moved into the Top 25 after beating rival Navy 14-6 last week, with their only loss coming at the hands of the University of Oklahoma, ranked No. 6 in the country, on Sept. 18.
This week is the first time Air Force has cracked the Top 25 since 2003, when it started the season 5-0.
The Rams, on the other hand, lost at home against No. 5 TCU 27-0 last week and have the worst rushing offense in college football, averaging 56.2 yards per game.
To make matters worse, starting running back Raymond Carter injured his knee against the Horned Frogs and is expected to miss anywhere from two to four weeks.
Sophomore wide receiver Lou Greenwood remains optimistic that the offense can turn it around.
â€œWe had a tough week last week, I mean thatâ€™s a tough team and weâ€™re not going to play anybody as good as them,â€ Greenwood said. â€œSo I feel like going into Air Force, which has nothing on TCU, we got a better chance offensively.â€
Coach Steve Fairchild was not pleased with the performance of his offense against TCU, and the injury to Carter leaves an open battle for starting running back.
â€œWeâ€™re giving them all reps, you know, weâ€™re still a little inconsistent at that spot,â€ Fairchild said at Wednesdayâ€™s practice. â€œBased on looking at the tape and practice (Wednesday) and (Thursday), weâ€™ll then determine who will start.â€
Likely starters include seniors John Mosure and Leonard Mason, who have experience playing against Air Force.
Defensively, the Rams have a challenge to stop the nationâ€™s top running team, which averages nearly 400 yards a game on the ground.
Falconsâ€™ starting quarterback Tim Jefferson and running backs Jared Tew and Asher Clark lead the way for Air Force, combining for 10 of the teamâ€™s 19 touchdowns this season.
At 6-foot, 217 pounds, Tew takes most of the carries from the Falconsâ€™ triple option look where either the two running backs or quarterback run the ball.
â€œ(Tew) is a big strong kid,â€ Fairchild said. â€œHeâ€™s always going forward and heâ€™s hard to stop. They use him well.â€
Once the primary offense of college football, the option is rarely run today by Division I teams, and without a bye week to prepare for it, the CSU defense has plenty of work to do.
â€œItâ€™s challenging, you only have really one week a year to practice it compared to other offenses,â€ said senior defensive tackle Guy Miller. â€œThe (cut blocking) and stuff like that are hard to play.â€
The Rams have not won in Colorado Springs since Oct. 31, 2002 and have lost four straight games to Air Force, the longest streak since 1983-89.
Kickoff is set for noon and the game can be seen on The Mtn. or listened to on the radio on the Colorado State Sports Network.
Football Beat Reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.