The Rams (3-5, 2-2 Mountain West) can't afford any more missteps if they hope to reach a bowl game for the sixth straight season. Colorado State's defensive weaknesses reemerged in a 56-28 loss to Boise State on Saturday. The Rams fell behind by five touchdowns before halftime and ultimately surrendered 472 total yards.
The Cowboys (2-6, 0-4) dropped their sixth straight Mountain West Conference game dating back to last season, falling 24-16 to Utah State on Saturday. Wyoming has scored 70 total points in those six league contests. Four of the losses have been by a margin of eight points or fewer.
Colorado State leads the all-time series 58-46-5. Wyoming has won two straight over the Rams, though, and is looking for its first three-game winning streak in the rivalry since claiming four straight wins from 2009-12.
Wyoming at Colorado State
Kickoff: Friday, Oct. 26 at 10 p.m. ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
Spread: Colorado State -1.5
Three Things to Watch
1. New starting quarterback for Colorado State
For the first time since 2016, Colin Hill will start at quarterback for Colorado State. Rams coach Mike Bobo named Hill the starter this week over senior K.J. Carta-Samuels. Hill replaced Carta-Samuels in the fourth quarter against Boise State and threw for 135 yards and a touchdown on 12-of-14 passing. He led two scoring drives against the Broncos.
Hill originally won the starting job as a true freshman in 2016. He started three games, throwing for 1,096 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions, before tearing his ACL in a 31-24 win over Utah State. The sophomore sat out last season while rehabbing from the injury but tore his ACL again in a pickup basketball game in March. Hill has seen limited action this season, throwing for 288 yards and two touchdowns on 25-of-48 passing.
Carta-Samuels, a graduate transfer from Washington, has totaled 2,172 yards, 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions on 177-of-287 passing in seven starts this season. He was benched against Boise State after completing 19-of-30 passes for 238 yards with a pair of touchdowns and interceptions.
2. Can Wyoming generate any offense?
A promising season quickly went sour for the Cowboys largely because their offense has cratered since beating New Mexico State in the season opener. Wyoming ranks 129th among 130 FBS teams in scoring offense (15.5 points per game) and is 127th nationally in total offense (288.4 yards per game). The Cowboys have been held under 20 points in each of their last seven games.
Continued offensive ineptitude could mean a change at quarterback ahead of Saturday's game. True freshman Sean Chambers replaced redshirt freshman Tyler Vander Waal in the second half against Utah State and looked more capable of moving the chains. Chambers ran for 100 yards on 19 carries and tallied 62 yards on 3-of-5 passing.
Vander Waal earned the starting job in fall camp but has regressed since the season opener. He totaled a season-low 38 yards on 7-of-19 passing against the Aggies. Vander Waal has thrown for 1,044 yards in eight games while completing just 50.2 percent of his pass attempts.
3. Can Colorado State take steps forward on defense?
If there's an antidote for the lifeless Wyoming offense, it may be in the form of a terrible Colorado State defense. The Rams have had to try to light up the scoreboard all season after seeing their defense fail to get stops over and over again.
Slow first-half starts have been the culprit in all five losses this season. In those games, Colorado State has given up an average of 25.4 points before halftime while averaging only 6.6 points over the same stretch. Right now, the Rams rank 110th nationally in total defense (449.5 ypg), and they rank 122nd in scoring defense (37.8 ppg).
New Mexico and Arkansas are the only opponents who have failed to score at least 30 points against Colorado State this season.
This latest battle for the Bronze Boot is likely to feature more intensity than usual. Both teams are desperate to get something positive going before it grows too late. Colorado State has no trouble scoring in bunches, but the Rams can't get stops. Wyoming has a solid defense but a non-existent offense. The Rams look to take a step closer to bowl eligibility with a win over their archrival.
Prediction: Colorado State 27, Wyoming 24
— Written by John Coon, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Coon has more than a decade of experience covering sports for different publications and outlets, including The Associated Press, Salt Lake Tribune, ESPN, Deseret News, MaxPreps, Yahoo! Sports and many others. Follow him on Twitter @johncoonsports.
(Top photo by Aaron M. Sprecher, courtesy of csurams.com)