Rams rout Rebels in CSU’s most profound performance of the year

Michael Gallup. Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports

The Rams routed UNLV 42-23 to improve to 4-4 on the season just before their bye week in the in the most convincing win and game of the year from the green and gold.

After narrowly losing to the No. 15 Boise State Broncos — a team CSU has never beaten in six meetings — the Rams rebounded with all the confidence in the world. Nick Stevens was superb, slinging the pigskin all over the yard in Las Vegas. He started the game 7-8 including perfect passes to Olabisi Johnson and Michael Gallup on third downs, and hit Danny Nwosu for a touchdown and the 7-0 lead.

“I totally believe he’ll have some confidence coming off of last week’s game,” Bobo said on Monday of Stevens, and the quarterback proved his coach right.

Then, while Stevens stayed hot – hitting Johnson in stride on a 37-yard pass – Izzy Matthews finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. Izzy scored again two drives later, running downhill and with explosiveness we’ve missed all season long.

“He’s 220 pounds, you know, run like it,” offensive coordinator Will Friend said Monday, challenging the sophomore. “He needs to wear on defenses.”

Finally, Marvin Kinsey Jr. got in on the action too, speeding to the end zone on a 34-yard scamper and just before half he ran another touchdown in and CSU led 35-0 at the break. It was the most complete, most exciting, most entertaining half of football Bobo’s Rams have played all year long. Not just offensively, the defense shut out the Rebels, allowing a mere 72 yards.

But the one challenge Colorado State didn’t live up to was to play a complete game.

Their fantastic first half was followed up by another third-quarter lull which bled into the fourth quarter, allowing UNLV to score 17 unanswered points and jump back into the game. Luckily for CSU, Stevens and Gallup were on the same page on a 36-yard touchdown thrown to the receiver’s back shoulder before he performed two spin moves and scored.

The Rebels put another touchdown on the board but the Rams fought stalwartly enough to win 42-23 and improve to 4-4 on the season.

Colorado State, who converted a mere 34 percent of their third downs on average, started the game a perfect 4-4 on those crucial plays and finished 10-18 (55.6 percent) in the win, Saturday. Stevens, who began the season as the starter, then was demoted and has been promoted back to starter, played lights-out, completing 21-28 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns, progressing through reads and making mostly every throw on the money.

Defensively, CSU forced two turnovers, and though they did turn it over themselves once, that makes only one turnover in the last three games for the Rams.

While they continue to search for that complete game, Colorado State has certainly improved over the course of this season and now a bowl game is certainly within reach as the Rams need to earn two more wins over the course of their four final contests.

This dazzling display of football prowess — albeit, for most of the game, but not all 60 minutes — is a great way to go into their bye week, full of confidence in themselves. Of course, CSU will continue to work hard in preparation of their next game, Saturday Nov. 5 hosting Fresno State at 1:30 p.m. MT, because Coach Bobo’s saved saying is “Never Satisfied.”

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