CSU Rams (1-4, 1-0 MW) vs. Utah State (2-4, 1-1)
When/where: 5 p.m. Saturday, Canvas Stadium
TV/Radio: CBS Sports Network/1600 AM, 98.1 FM
Line: Utah State -11.5, 45.5 over/under
Weather: 62 degrees, mostly cloudy
What to know
Pooler time: After a spotty — but winning — performance from Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi in Reno, coach Jay Norvell is handing the keys at QB over to Fort Collins native Giles Pooler. The former Rocky Mountain High prospect is more of a pocket passer than a run threat, a wrinkle that could improve the potential for a steadier pass game. On the flip side, it also figures to put pressure on a leaky offensive line to hold up for longer periods. (Starter Clay Millen is expected to be cleared to return next week.)
Speaking of pressure: The Rams have given up an average of 6.0 sacks per game to FBS opposition this season. Since 2003, a span of 20 seasons, only one FBS team — Akron in 2021 — has given up more than 5.2 per game against fellow FBS programs. Fortunately, the Aggies come into Canvas Stadium third from last in the Mountain West in sacks per game, at 1.17.
Kicking vengeance: Remember how this matchup ended in Logan late last October? Yeah, we tried really hard to forget, too, but it’s burned into our brains. According to FootballOutsiders.com’s efficiency metrics, Utah State boasts the 33rd-best special teams units in the country, while the Rams rank 109th. Here’s hoping we never have to come back to this stat at any point during the game itself.
Portal blues: With fifth-year senior defensive lineman Devin Phillips reportedly leaving the team this week, CSU could have as many as five players who’ve hit the transfer portal since Aug. 1. According to On3.com’s portal tracker, only one MW school has seen more players depart during that span — Boise State, with six.
CSU C George Miki-Han vs. Utah State DT Hale Motu’apuaka: The Rams’ redshirt freshman helped limit the Wolf Pack to only one sack last week in Reno; Motu’apuaka, a senior from Hawaii, tops the Aggies with two sacks in four games.
CSU RB Avery Morrow vs. Utah State LB AJ Vongphachanh: The Aggies defender has three fumbles either forced or recovered over his last 26 appearances for USU. Morrow’s ball-security concerns (one lost fumble) helped to keep Nevada in the game last Friday.
Sean Keeler, sports columnist: Utah State 28, CSU 21
Saints forgive us for typing this, but if the Rammies want to get a win streak going, they’ve gotta be a little less about the Air Raid and more about The Daz. The Aggies roll into FoCo 10th in the Mountain West in rushing yards allowed per game (201) and yards allowed per carry (4.73). If Avery Morrow has another 168-yard game in him and can hang onto the ball, CSU might hang around.
Matt Schubert, deputy sports editor: Utah State 21, CSU 13
Yes, the Rams won last week, but they did it with their offense producing a grand total of three points. With another new quarterback playing behind a shaky offensive line, it’s hard to envision the CSU offense doing much against Utah State, either.