One week after the most lopsided defeat of the season against No. 8 Utah, CSU will take on last place New Mexico at home on Saturday with hopes of remaining in the quest to become bowl eligible.
The Rams (2-6, 1-3 MWC) have played well at home this year, losing only once to No. 4 TCU in early October and averaging nearly 30 points per game at Hughes Stadium.
New Mexico (0-7, 0-3) has yet to win a game this year, giving up a total of 44.1 points per game while averaging less than 14 offensively.
The only team to score less than 30 points against the Lobosâ€™ defense was New Mexico State on Oct. 9.
Despite showing no signs of slowing down opposing offenses, CSU coach Steve Fairchild does not plan on taking the New Mexico defense lightly.
â€œI think their front plays hard,â€ Fairchild said. â€œI think they have some experience in the secondary, and they seem to know their scheme. Itâ€™s not the most complex scheme, but they know it and play it well. Theyâ€™re very sound and make very few mistakes.â€
Common problems through CSUâ€™s losses this season have come when the running game has not been able to produce.
Last Saturday, the Rams gained a total of 28 rushing yards on 1.2 yards per carry, in turn, leading to only six points.
Part of the struggles on the ground comes from seeing three different starting running backs at this point in the season after junior Raymond Carter was sidelined with a knee injury.
â€œYou got to do what you got to do sometimes,â€ said running backs coach Anthoney Hill. â€œObviously, you would like to have one guy, if that works best for your team, to be the starter and do his thing, but some teams, thatâ€™s just not the case. I donâ€™t know if thatâ€™s the case with this team or not.â€
Senior Leonard Mason did a brilliant job in Carterâ€™s place, putting together two consecutive 100-yard performances until being benched last weekend for freshman Chris Nwoke.
â€œWe got multiple guys that can play and when thatâ€™s the case, I donâ€™t think it matters too much who starts,â€ Hill said.
At this point, Fairchild said he is unsure who will start against the Lobos.
Carter is expected to see some action based on his week of practice.
â€œIâ€™m real anxious, itâ€™s never fun sitting out,â€ Carter said. â€œI just remained patient about it and tried to get healthy, so Iâ€™m happy to be back on the field this Saturday.â€
Offensively, the Lobos feature a true freshman quarterback in Tarean Austin, who likes to play both through the air and on the ground.
Austin remains a work in progress passing the ball, throwing four interceptions to only two touchdowns this season with a completion percentage barely above 50.
Fairchild looks at New Mexico and sees a team that resembles something familiar.
â€œThey remind me a little bit of us earlier in the year, they flash at every spot,â€ Fairchild said. â€œOffensively, they have some skill and they make some plays. Theyâ€™re one of those teams that are ready to put it all together.â€
The game will kickoff at 4 p.m. and the game can be seen on The Mtn.
Football Beat Reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.