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Colorado State Rams vs. New Mexico Lobos Preview and Prediction

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The New Mexico Lobos will host the Colorado State Rams in a key battle in the Mountain West Conference's Mountain Division on Friday night. Head coach Bob Davie's Lobos are coming off of a disastrous performance in a 38-0 loss to Fresno State, while Mike Bobo has the Rams firing on all cylinders offensively — leading the division and sporting an undefeated record in conference play.

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Colorado State at New Mexico

Kickoff: Friday, Oct. 20 at 10:15 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN2

Spread: Colorado State -6.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Can the Lobos slow down the CSU passing attack?

Colorado State's Nick Stevens-to-Michael Gallup connection is one of the most lethal quarterback-receiver combinations in the country. Stevens is among the nation's leaders in nearly every passing category that matters, and having an NFL-caliber talent like Gallup to rely on doesn't hurt matters. The Lobos gave up nearly 300 yards and three scores through the air in their loss to Fresno State last weekend. If they come out soft against the Rams, this one will be over in a hurry.

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2. New Mexico's run game

One way to limit the damage Colorado State can do through the air is to limit their possessions. The Lobos can do that by leaning on their solid rushing attack to shorten the game. They had a tough time getting anything going on the ground in the loss to Fresno State, a failure that was reflected in the final score. They need to do better right from the start if they hope to upset the Rams. They could certainly use another big game from running back Richard McQuarley, who exploded for 179 yards and five scores against Air Force a couple of weeks ago.

3. Colorado State's linebackers

The Rams have a couple of solid defenders roaming the field in linebackers Evan Colorito and Josh Watson. Both are big, physical defenders who are very good against the run. Their performances will be key to stopping New Mexico's rushing attack. If they are on their game, it should be smooth sailing for Colorado State. If they struggle and are unable to free themselves up to make plays against the run, the Lobos have a shot.

Final Analysis

If this game wasn't on a short week and in Albuquerque, Colorado State might be favored by double digits. The Rams are simply the more talented team at pretty much every position, and Mike Bobo is one of the hot young up-and-coming coaches in the game right now. Look for Bobo to take full advantage of displaying his team under the Friday night lights, as the Rams come out and jump on the Lobos early. This will be a statement game from Colorado State to show the nation that the Rams belong in the conversation of elite Group of 5 teams in 2017. Michael Gallup dominates in this one and the Rams roll.

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Prediction: Colorado State 41, New Mexico 17

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, Bleacher Report and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

(Michael Gallup photo courtesy of Colorado State/Abbie Parr)