It all comes down to Game 12 for the CSU Rams in terms of bowl eligibility.

Considering how poorly Colorado State played last year—going 3-9 with arguably the worst offense in the nation—it’s amazing to see how far they’ve bounced back this year.

Head coach Jay Norvell must be credited for this turnaround, which has his Rams sitting at 5-6 currently, needing a win over Hawaii (4-7) tomorrow to become bowl eligible.

It wouldn’t just mean bowl eligibility in Norvell’s second year; that alone would be a big win for him. But it would also be the first time the CSU Rams made a bowl game since 2017 under Mike Bobo. Sitting at 3-6 after nine games, Colorado State needed to win three straight games to become bowl eligible. They beat San Diego State and Nevada, and have Hawaii left to complete that trio of wins.

First, CSU Rams need to beat Hawaii on Saturday

Yes, with a win or loss tomorrow, this is still a solid second season for Norvell. A two-win improvement is something to be proud of, and his offense has dramatically advanced, scoring basically double what it did last year.

But, taking care of business and beating Hawaii would be a great little cherry on top for Colorado State.

Hawaii has regularly been a pushover in the Mountain West, and the Rams have beaten the Rainbow Warriors in eight of the last 10 meetings between the two programs.

However, Hawaii did beat Air Force 27-13 two weeks ago, so there’s no chalking this one up to a win for CSU.

The good news for CSU Rams fans is the green and gold matches up well with Hawaii.

The Rainbow Warriors are 109th in scoring offense (20.9 PPG) and they’re dead-last in rushing yards per game (69.8). That’s good news for Norvell’s defense because they’re 97th against the run game, giving up 167.7 yards per contest.

Hawaii does have a solid passing game, however, as starting quarterback Brayden Schrager has thrown for 3,222 yards with 25 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Wait, is this the only game in history in which both starting quarterbacks are named Brayden?

Anyway, CSU’s Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi is enjoying a nearly identical year, with 3,143 yards, 20 TDs and 15 INTs. But, the Rams offense is scoring nearly a touchdown more per game (26.3 PPG) than their opponents, and Hawaii gives up a whopping 32.9 points per game, which is 113th.

One thing BF-N needs to do tomorrow is take care of the ball. On top of the 15 picks he’s thrown, Fowler-Nicolosi has lost four fumbles, too.

If the Rams can win the turnover battle against Hawaii, that’ll certainly help their cause. Offensively, the CSU Rams should be able to run with relative ease, whether that’s Avery Morrow, Vann Schield or both. But the Rainbow Warriors pass defense is actually pretty stout, at 37th in the country (205.8 yards, 22 TDs allowed). Still, Fowler-Nicolosi has to get Tory Horton and Dallin Holker—among others—involved. A touchdown reception tomorrow for Holker would set the single-season record for the Rams.

Defensively, Colorado State should be able to shut the run game down, making Hawaii one-dimensional. The home team does have two top-tier receivers, too in Steven McBride (942 yards, 8 TDs) and Pofele Ashlock (751, 9).

Colorado State – Hawaii kicks off at 9 p.m. MT and will be broadcasted by Spectrum Sports. Watch the game on your phone by downloading the Team1 Sports app and search for Hawaii Football.

Currently, there are 19 teams alive for 14 spots, but four play today

Per Brett McMurphy, there were 22 teams alive for 14 spots starting on Black Friday morning.

However, at the time of this publishing, there are now only 19 teams alive for 14 spots because CMU—led by former Rams head coach Jim McElwain—lost 32-11 to No. 23 Toledo. Also, TCU lost 69-45 to No. 13 Oklahoma. Then, Nebraska lost 13-10 to No. 20 Iowa.

That number is important because there is a possibility the Rams beat Hawaii and are still left out of a bowl game. That could happen if there are more than 14 teams eligible after Saturday and CSU gets overlooked.

However, things are trending toward “win and you’re in” with those 19 teams alive.

Rams being projected to many different bowls

Colorado State has been projected as a bowl team for weeks, even when they were 3-6.

Now, at 5-6, the destinations have changed but even more publications have the Rams in a bowl game.

Here are some:

  • FOX Sports has CSU playing in the Boca Raton Bowl (Dec. 21) against Georgia State.
  • Athlon has CSU playing against Texas State in the Frisco Bowl (Dec. 19), and 247sports agrees.
  • USA TODAY projects the CSU Rams playing in the Myrtle Beach Bowl (Dec. 18) against Appalachian State.
  • Finally, Yahoo! Sports has Colorado State playing in the Cure Bowl (Dec. 16) versus Bowling Green.

But again, the CSU Rams must first take care of business quite late Fort Collins time in Hawaii.