CSU Rams vs. Washington State football: How to watch, predictions, storylines

Colorado State (3-9 in 2022) vs. Washington State (7-6)

When/where: 5 p.m. Saturday/Canvas Stadium

TV/Radio: CBSSN/1600 AM

BetMGM Line: Wazzu -11, 55.5 over/under

Weather: 91 degrees, partly cloudy

Five storylines

Offensive line overhaul: A year after giving up the most sacks in FBS (59), CSU coach Jay Norvell overhauled the Rams’ offensive front, with senior center Jacob Gardner surrounded by transfers. How quickly those new pieces gel will likely determine if Year 2 of the Norvell era is a success. Consider the Cougars the perfect test. Of the seven players named to the preseason All-Pac-12 team, two are edge rushers — Brennan Jackson (12 tackles for loss, 6 sacks in ’22) and Ron Stone Jr. (4, 2).

Good on good: The matchup to watch on Saturday night (provided CSU QB Clay Millen has time to throw) is Wazzu cornerback Chau Smith-Wade, a Denver native who went to high school in Chicago, against CSU wide receiver Tory Horton. Both were preseason all-conference selections this year, and both could end up playing on Sundays.

Shoot your shot: The Rams rarely shy from scheduling tough nonconference opponents, and this year is no different with two Power 5 matchups on the schedule (Wazzu and CU). This will be only the fourth time, however, that they have been able to get a Power 5 team to visit Canvas Stadium since it opened in 2017. CSU won two of the previous three, knocking off Oregon State (58-27 in ’17) and Arkansas (34-27 in ’18) in the Mike Bobo era, and losing to Vanderbilt (24-21 in ’21) with Steve Addazio on the sidelines.

More to come?: The biggest elephant in the room? The fact that this soon could be a conference game. With Stanford and Cal now set to join the ACC in the fall of 2024, it appears to be only a matter of time before the Pac-2 (Oregon State and Washington State) forge some sort of alliance with the Mountain West. Adding a little spice to that storyline: MW Commissioner Gloria Nevarez will be in attendance Saturday night in FoCo. Wonder why that might be?

Colorado connection: The Cougars have made a habit of plucking talent away from the Centennial State, including Pomona’s Max Borghi in 2018 and two recruits from 2023 (Vista Ridge’s Brandon Hills and Fountain-Fort Carson’s Tai Faavae) on the current roster. Erie senior defensive lineman Jackson Cowgill is pledged to be the next. With Washington State about to lose its Power 5 status, will that pipeline close up?


Kyle Newman, sports reporter: Wazzu 28, CSU 24

The Rams lead in the first half and keep it respectable in the second half but don’t quite have the gel yet, even if the O-line is improved. A promising performance that comes up short when the offense sputters out in the fourth quarter.

Matt Schubert, sports editor: CSU 20, Wazzu 17

Few things are more predictable than a Pac-12 program falling flat on its face when it’s forced to visit a Mountain West school’s stadium. That will be happening here, thanks to a salty Rams defensive effort.

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