CSU Rams vs. Washington State: Predictions for Saturday’s game

CSU Rams (0-2) vs. Washington State (2-0); 3 p.m. MDT Saturday, Martin Stadium

TV/Radio: Pac-12 Net/104.3 FM

Line: Wazzu -11, 53.5 over/under

Weather: 64 degrees, mostly cloudy

What to know

Farewell, Part I. Dante Wright ‘s once-promising CSU career came to an abrupt end earlier this week when the senior receiver opted to enter the transfer portal. The move wasn’t entirely surprising given that Wright had become an afterthought (zero catches in 2022) in new Rams head coach Jay Norvell’s offense after piling up 121 receptions for 1,674 yards in his first three years in FoCo. .

Farewell, Part II. Wright wasn’t the only senior to call it a career in FoCo this week, either. Placekicker Cayden Camper, who made a school record 25 field goals last fall, followed Wright out the door after missing his lone field goal attempt through two games this year. It’s unclear which of the two kickers on the CSU roster will take his spot, although Oregon transfer Henry Katleman has been handling kickoff duties.

O-line issues. While those departures sting, they’re far from the biggest concern for a CSU offense that’s struggled to keep Clay Millen upright. The freshman QB has been sacked 15 times through two weeks behind a battered and inexperienced offensive line. Left tackle Brian Crespo-Jaquez suffered a season-ending knee injury prior to last week’s 34-19 loss to Middle Tennessee, and right tackle Dontae Keys didn’t last a quarter. Norvell hinted at changes to come, and they can’t happen soon enough.

New Cougs. A Washington State program once defined by its Air Raid attack has taken on a different identity under new coach Jake Dickert. The ex-defensive coordinator has the Cougars playing salty defense with 18 tackles for loss, seven sacks and five turnovers over two games, with three of those takeaways coming in Wazzu’s 17-14 upset of Wisconsin at Camp Randall.

Key matchups

CSU O-Line vs. WSU front seven. Until CSU gets things figured out up front, the explosive Clay Millen-to-Tory Horton passing combination (255 yards, four TDs) will never reach its ceiling. Going against a Cougars defense that features eight players with at least half a sack, communication will be critical.

WSU QB Cameron Ward vs. CSU secondary. The famed “Coug Raid” offense that was expected to take off under Ward, an Incarnate Word transfer, has struggled with consistency. CSU’s defense showed signs of life holding MTSU to seven points (and two turnovers) in the second half. Did CSU figure some things out?

Predictions

Sean Keeler, sports columnist: WSU 34, CSU 30

Oh, so THIS is what rock bottom feels like? Dante Wright and Cayden Camper fled to the portal rather than endure another rebuild. MTSU just stole your lunch at Canvas Stadium. Pundits are lumping the Rams into their “Bottom 10″ lists … right next to sad-sack CU. It’ll get better, FoCo. Just … probably not this week.

Matt Schubert, deputy sports editor: WSU 20, CSU 17

With an offense that’s produced 41 points combined over two games — defensible when it’s Wisconsin, not so much when it’s Idaho — Wazzu is beatable. Put together an early scoring drive or two, and the Rams can keep this one close going into the fourth quarter. Then, the pressure’s on the Cougs.

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