FACTS & STATS: Site: Spartan Stadium (30,456) -- San Jose, California. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: CSU 0-1, SJSU 1-0. Away Record: CSU 0-0, SJSU 0-1. Neutral Record: CSU 1-0, SJSU 0-0. Conference Record: CSU 0-0, SJSU 0-0. Series Record: Colorado State leads, 3-2.
GAME NOTES: The San Jose State Spartans shoot for their fourth win in the last five games as they entertain the Colorado State Rams in non-conference action at Spartan Stadium on Saturday night.
San Jose State, which closed out the 2011 campaign with back-to-back victories over Navy and Fresno State, dropped this season's opener against local foe Stanford by a mere three points, 20-17, but rebounded by taking out UC Davis with a resounding 45-13 decision at home last weekend.
The Spartans, a squad which isn't due to leave the Golden State until it visits Navy on September 29, currently hails from the Western Athletic Conference but will soon be getting very familiar with Colorado State when it joins the Mountain West Conference beginning next season.
As for the Rams, they began the campaign with a bang, defeating in-state rival Colorado in Denver during their annual matchup, 22-17, to give head coach Jim McElwain a victory in his first outing as the leader on the sidelines. However, last weekend CSU was humbled by North Dakota State, the defending FCS champion and the top-ranked team at that level, in the home opener in Fort Collins, 22-7, an outcome that wasn't expected given how much excitement the team had generated with the win over the Buffaloes.
CSU owns a 3-2 advantage in the all-time series, but it was SJSU that captured a 38-31 win in last year's encounter.
On just the third play of the game last Saturday, CSU quarterback Garrett Grayson hooked up with tight end Crockett Gillmore on a 69-yard touchdown play to put the Rams ahead of the Bison, but after that the Colorado State offense was effectively silenced by the visitors. The hosts ran a total of just 48 offensive plays and maintained possession of the ball for slightly more than 20 minutes as they converted a mere 1-of-10 on third down.
Grayson hit on 13-of-24 passes for 171 yards and an interception and because he was sacked four times, the team's net rushing total amounted to only 72 yards on 24 attempts.
Defensively, Shaquil Barrett was credited with a game-high 15 stops and had the lone sack of the contest for the Rams.
After two games, the Rams are averaging a respectable 3.0 sacks per contest which is good for 23rd in the nation, but when it comes to overall stops in the backfield the program is sorely lacking. Producing just 3.5 tackles for loss per game, CSU is tied for 109th in the country at the moment but that isn't much of a surprise as the group managed to generate just 4.3 TFL a year ago when they were seventh in the conference and 114th nationally.
Despite the win in the opener, the offense for the Rams is still sputtering with an average of only 231.0 ypg, but considering the team had to replace the quarterback that might not be all that shocking either.
UC Davis simply could not contain the Spartans last Saturday as the hosts scored on seven straight possessions in their 32-point route of the Aggies. Running back De'Leon Eskridge scored on three of his 16 rushing attempts, finishing with 130 yards in the onslaught. Quarterback David Fales hit on 23- of-32 passes for 277 yards and a score as well for the Spartans as they generated more than 500 yards of total offense.
But the offense was not the entire story for the Spartans, as Travis Johnson earned himself WAC Defensive Player of the Week honors by tying one WAC and two school records. With four sacks, Johnson matched a program record, while his six tackles for loss also tied for the most in school history and that of the WAC. As a unit, the Spartans notched 12.0 TFL which was the most since the team delivered 14.0 TFL in a loss to Louisiana Tech back in 2008.
Because of their effort at the line of scrimmage and further up the field against UC Davis, the Spartans now rank 12th in the country with 9.5 TFL per game. While it is still early in the campaign, the effort in that department is certainly a positive sign for an SJSU group that was sixth in the conference and 100th in the country last year with 4.67 TFL per game.
In terms of total defense, SJSU is tops in the league and 18th in the nation with only 266.0 ypg allowed and the group's 16.5 ppg permitted is also a strong mark for a team that ranked 86th nationally with 30.3 ppg given up in 2011.
If the San Jose State defense can come anywhere to close to its performances in the first two games, the Spartans should be in line for yet another win this coming weekend over the Rams.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Jose State 27, Colorado State 10Game Date and Time
Saturday, September 15, 8:00 p.m. (et).