This weekend the Cougars will head down to Albuquerque, New Mexico to take on the Colorado State Rams in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl on Saturday at 11:00 A.M. This is the first bowl game in 10 years for the Cougars (6-6, 4-5 PAC-12) and the first since 2008 for the Rams (7-5, 5-3 MW) so this is something both teams have been looking forward to for a few years.
The Rams are led by running back Kapri Bibbs and quarterback Garrett Grayson while the Cougars are led by quarterback Connor Halliday and safety Deone Bucannon. Both the Rams and the Cougars have not had the most success in previous seasons but both schools hired new head coaches last season and are headed in the right direction.
The Colorado State Rams offense is led by their strong running game with over 2,600 yards rushing by the team it is very obvious what their strengths are. Kapri Bibbs leads the team in rushing yards with 1,572 yards on 254 carries and 28 touchdowns while Chris Nwoke and Donnell Alexander wrap up the rest of the top 3. Nwoke has 398 yards on 101 carries and 2 touchdowns while Alexander has 397 yards on 34 carries and also has 2 touchdowns.
The ground game is the rams go-to but their passing game isn’t bad either. Garrett Grayson is the Rams signal caller and has racked up 3,327 yards on 266 of 428 passing and 21 touchdowns. Most of Graysons passes are going to freshman Rashard Higgins who has 795 yards on 64 receptions and has 6 touchdowns. Grayson has also thrown 10 interceptions this season.
The rest of the targets for the Rams include WR Joe Hansley, TE Crockett Gillmore, and TE Kivon Cartwright. Hansley has 557 yards on 48 receptions with 1 touchdown, Gillmore has 533 on 43 receptions with 2 touchdowns, and Cartwrightt has 411 yards on 25 receptions with 6 touchdowns. 6 other players have a touchdown this season.
The lineman for the rams are one of their bigger strengths and is anchored by 6-4, 300-pound center Weston Richburg. Richburg is accompanied by 6-5, 294-pound Mason Hathaway, 6-3, 300 pound Brandon Haynes, and 6-5, 310-pound Ty Sambrailo. The beef and size of the Rams is going to be one issue that the Cougars might have issues with especially with the loss of Kalifitoni Pole who was sent home from New Mexico on Wednesday due to academic issues.
The Rams are scoring 35.3 points a game.
The Rams defense is led by linebacker Shaquil Barrett who leads the Mountain West and is 3rd in the nation in sacks with 12 so far this season. The second closest to Barrett is Cory James who has 6 sacks this season. Barrett is joined by leading tacklers Max Morgan, 66 solo/63 assisted, and Aaron Davis 58 solo/55 assisted. Both Morgan and Davis are the only ones on the team with over 100 total tackles, the third most tackles on the team belongs to Barrett who has 74 total tackles.
As for the Rams rankings in the FBS on defense they are 48th in rushing defense giving up an average of 152.2 yards per game and has given up 16 touchdowns on the ground and averages just under 4 yards per rush. As for passing, the Rams are ranked 109th in passing yards allowed having given up 265.4 yards per game through the air with an average of just under 8 yards per attempt and 12.6 yards per completion. The Rams have given up 27 touchdowns through the air.
When it comes to scoring on defense, the Rams are 78th in the FBS with 46 total touchdowns given up. In the red zone the Rams are ranked 59th on defense allowing their opponent to score 34 out of 41 red zone appearances. 13 rushing touchdowns and 11 passing touchdowns. The Rams are ranked 80th in total defense, which is 11 spots worse than from the end of last season. The Rams have allowed 5,428 yards on defense this year.
Trent Mathews, the Rams interception leader, has tallied up 4 interceptions this year while 5 other Rams have 1 interception as well. The Rams are positive in the turnover margin this year with 19 gained turnovers, 9 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries, and 17 lost turnovers.
Barrett is also the teams tackle for loss leader with 20.5 tackles for a loss for a total of 98 yards. The player with the second most tackles for a loss is Cory James who has 10 tackles for a loss for 47 yards.
The Rams are allowing 28.6 points a game this season.