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Boise State vs. Colorado State Football Prediction and Preview

Todd Centeio, Colorado State Rams Football

Todd Centeio and the Rams look for their first-ever win over the Broncos when the two Mountain West rivals meet in Fort Collins

Perhaps the time has finally arrived for Colorado State. This just might be the year the Rams break their 0-forever against fellow Mountain West division rival Boise State, with the Broncos winning all 10 of the previous matchups.

After all, the perennial conference contenders just aren't themselves this year while the Rams (3-4, 2-1 MW) are on the upswing heading into this Saturday night matchup in Fort Collins.

"We are really excited and locked in to get ready for this game against Boise State … a team that we have never beaten," Colorado State head coach Steve Addazio told reporters. "We've mentioned it to the players. We haven't beaten Boise — that's the high-water mark in the conference. To their credit, they've done it year-in and year-out. They've established that tradition, that watermark. So if you want to build your program, you want to try to get those wins against those premier teams. That's a premier team."

It's a premier team that's seen better years. Boise State is 3-4 overall with the calendar about to turn to November. The last time the Broncos had a losing record this late in the season was way back in 1997. Furthermore, they are just 1-2 in Mountain West play, sitting a surprising fourth in the Mountain Division behind Colorado State, who is one game behind Utah State in the win column for the top spot.

"Everyone knows what the standard is here, whether it's on the road or at home," first-year Boise State head coach Andy Avalos told reporters. "The standard is the competitive nature and the standard we have on the field is that it gives us an opportunity to be successful. And there are a lot of things we have to continue to improve on … We had some opportunities, and we didn't execute."

Avalos hopes the bye week helped the Broncos find their footing. They've had plenty of time to think about the 24-17 home loss to Air Force on Oct. 16 in which they gave up 307 rushing yards to the Falcons and only had the ball for 23 minutes.

Meanwhile, the Rams have additional motivation after losing 26-24 on the road to Utah State last Friday night despite outgaining the Aggies by more than 100 yards (472 vs. 344).

But that was last week. Now Colorado State has a chance to erase a decade's worth of futility against the team that has been considered the class of their conference for even longer.

Boise State at Colorado State

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Boise State -2.5

When Boise State Has the Ball

The Broncos' issues this season start on offense, where the Broncos just haven't been able to run with reckless abandon.

Just how bad has it been? Their 84.3 rushing yards per game rank them 126th among FBS teams. To put it another way, only four teams (Nevada, Bowling Green, Purdue, Mississippi State) are generating less production from their ground game than Boise State.

Injuries to starting running back George Holani (leg) and Cyrus Habibi-Likio (undisclosed) have played a big role in that stumble — and their status is uncertain for Saturday. That's left senior Andrew Van Buren carrying the load, and he's averaging a meager 3.1 yards per carry.

Even if the Broncos get some backfield reinforcements, yards may still be hard to come by against a Colorado State defense that is second in the Mountain West in rushing defense (98.3 ypg).

That puts more pressure on Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier, who will have to contend with a Rams defense that is swarming to the ball. Colorado State is second nationally with 29 sacks, and the defense registered 13 tackles for a loss (for 113 yards) in last week's close loss to Utah State.

If Bachmeier has time, he will likely look for his favorite target, Khalil Shakir. The senior playmaker is in the top seven in the Mountain West in receptions (40), receiving yards (659), and touchdown catches (four). The key for Bachmeier, who has thrown for 1,951 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions, is to not lock in on Shakir solely, as he's bound to draw plenty of defensive attention. The junior signal-caller also needs to make sure he throws the ball away if there's nothing there and the pressure comes so as not to put the Broncos behind the chains according to his head coach.

"The games that we've been successful in we've been able to have game-changing plays," Avalos told reporters.

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When Colorado State Has the Ball

Unlike, Boise State, the Rams have displayed more balance on offense, a reason why they are fifth in the Mountain West with 407 yards per game.

When Colorado State runs, it's workhorse David Bailey, quarterback Todd Centeio, and running back A'Jon Vivens sharing the load. Bailey is the leading rusher (477 yards), and he's shown a knack for getting into the end zone (6 TDs). He's coming off of his best performance of the season, putting up 159 yards on 30 carries against Utah State.

And he should have a chance to improve on his numbers on Saturday. The Broncos' issues with the run extend to their defense. They are second to last in the conference and 111th nationally in rushing defense at 198.3 yards allowed per game.

One indication of the Boise State's struggles is the fact that safety JL Skinner is fourth nationally with 49 tackles. What was supposed to be a solid front seven this season just hasn't materialized. The Broncos have collected 16 sacks in seven games to rank ninth in the Mountain West and are 10th in tackles for a loss per game (five). They do have eight interceptions and have returned one of those for a touchdown, so Centeio needs to be wary when he drops back to pass.

Speaking of the passing game, Centeio's top target is senior tight end Trey McBride, who is tied for ninth in the FBS with 55 catches. He's amassed 637 yards on those, and although he has just one touchdown, the future NFL draft pick is the linchpin for this offense. Junior wide receivers Dante Wright and Ty McCulloch also figure to get some looks from Centeio.

Overall, the senior signal-caller is completing 60.3 percent of his passes for 1,610 yards with seven touchdowns and just two interceptions. He was solid last week (18-for-29, 282-1-1) last week against Utah State and put his team in a position to potentially win the game late by engineering a 73-yard drive that spent used up only 81 seconds on the clock.

But miscommunication on the Rams' sideline resulted in a rushed 42-yard field goal attempt that went wide left whereas Centeio could have spiked the ball to stop the clock.

"They weren't sent, but they went and it created that confusion at the end, which is just a shame," Addazio told reporters. "We really got set up — it wasn't like we weren't set up to kick the field goal. We were set up to kick the field goal, we just didn't strike it. That's what happened at the end there. No one sent them in, but they took off on the field."

Final Analysis

The Rams should be more than motivated for this one. They can draw off last week's shoot-themselves-in-the-foot loss.

And they can drum up last year's ugly 52-21 loss to Boise State that saw them have three blocked kicks returned for touchdowns before halftime.

Combine that with this 0-10 slide against the Broncos, and Colorado State should be plenty fired up.

"We haven't done it," Addazio told reporters of the all-time winless skid against Boise State. "Of course, the players need to know we haven't done it. It would be something that's a great accomplishment, but respect how hard that's going to be because there's a reason that hasn't happened."

With Boise State — finally — struggling this season and Colorado State being competitive in all but one game to this point, throw any and all reasons out the window.

Prediction: Colorado State 25, Boise State 24

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— Written by Todd Saelhof, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sports editor/writer for Postmedia in Canada. Follow him on @ToddSaelhofPM at #CollegeFootballFrenzy.