There is a popular thought around the Colorado State Ram community that Mr. Kapri Bibbs is going to run up, over and around the Washington State defense tomorrow. I’ve been looking into the numbers and I’m here to tell you that won’t happen in this game on Saturday. If the Rams are going to win this game, they’ll have to do it in the air.
Washington State has made a much better effort this season against the running backs they have faced (and man have they faced some good ones). There’s no doubt they finally have the Pac-12 caliber talent to compete against backs like Tyler Gaffney, Bishop Sankey, Marion Grice and Ka’Deem Carey. The problem is that there are some monster offensive lines in the Pac. In fact the conference only has 5 teams in the top 66 in overall rush defense. That’s mostly due to the fact that the conference also supplies us with 7 offenses that rank in the top 60 in rushing.
The Cougs gave up over 180 yards on the ground per game this season good for only 85th overall. Thus, the reason for the CSU confidence bar being so high in the run game. I’d be shocked if CSU goes for triple digits combined in this game.
Bibbs is averaging over 120 yards per, good for 13th nationally. While that’s a huge number for a back in today’s NCAA, the Cougs have faced four running backs this season that are averaging better, Gaffney, Sankey, Carey and Auburn’s Tre Mason. Sankey and Carey did their thing but the other two were largely ineffective (though it should be noted that Cory Grant did carve up WSU in the Auburn game). Still, if you think this defense is scared of Bibbs, think again.
All those above numbers are misleading as it relates to this contest, based on the competition involved. Bibbs did his damage on some of the softest defenses in the country:
- Cal Poly is an FBS team.
- UTEP, Air Force, New Mexico and Nevada all rank in the bottom 10 nationally in overall rush defense.
- Wyoming, San Jose State and Hawaii are bottom 20.
- Colorado and Tulsa are bottom 30.
- That only leaves Utah State at 10 and Bama at 11 and Colorado State scored a combined 6 points in those games. That’s right, 6.
That puts Washington State as the 3rd best rushing defense the Rams have faced this season. Don’t be surprised if this isn’t the shootout you thought it might be. I’m giving CSU 24 points in a 34-24 defeat but even that might be generous. The Cougar defense is better than the numbers indicate and as big as the Rams have seen front to back outside of Alabama. Even this experienced CSU line will struggle against Wazzu, write it down.
Auburn scored 31, Arizona scored 17, Washington scored 27 and Stanford scored 55 in a landslide second half, for reference on those other top running backs I mentioned earlier. I’m not saying that Bibbs isn’t an awesome running back, I’m sure he is. It’s just that Washington State will be ready for him, the question is can they stop Garrett Grayson through the air as well?