Broncos visit Colorado State Saturday aiming to move closer to Mountain Division title

Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien looks for a receiver during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Colorado State in Boise, Idaho, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

The Boise State football team can take a huge step towards securing a spot in the Mountain West title game Saturday when they visit Colorado State.

The Broncos have three games remaining in the regular season and wins in two of them will guarantee them a Mountain Division title. Winning Saturday night would eliminate the Rams from contention and move Boise State that much closer to locking up its first division title since 2014.

Boise State (7-2, 5-0) and Colorado State (6-4, 4-2) meet at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night at CSU Stadium on the CBS Sports Network.

Boise State is 6-0 all-time against Colorado State since joining the Mountain West in 2011, including three wins by an average of 31 points in games played in Fort Collins. But the Rams opened a new stadium in 2017 and will debut new ‘state pride’ uniforms against the Broncos on Saturday.

The Broncos have won five games in a row and would seem like a near lock to win some combination of two games from their remaining schedule of at Colorado State, at home against Air Force and at Fresno State. But don’t tell that to the players, who say they are thinking about nothing but Saturday’s game against the Rams.

“We just have to ignore all that,” senior running back Ryan Wolpin said. “Coach talks about it all the time. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. We still have some games left that are really important so we can’t get ahead of ourselves. This is the most important game because it’s the next game.”

A win against Colorado State Saturday would put Boise State in position to clinch a spot in the title game on Senior Night at Albertsons Stadium next Saturday against Air Force.

For much of the season it appeared like Saturday’s game would determine the winner of the Mountain Division, but consecutive losses to Air Force and Wyoming the past two weeks dropped Colorado State two games behind the Broncos with just three to play.

Wyoming and Air Force are both still alive in the division race as well, but would need the Broncos to lose two of the final three games to get back in the picture.

Boise State’s young defense will get quite the test Saturday against one of the top offenses in the country. Colorado State ranks 16th in the country in total offense at 483.6 yards per game and is 26th in passing yards at 286.5 per game. Both stats rank No. 1 in the Mountain West.

The Rams have the impressive quarterback-wide receiver combo of Nick Stevens and Michael Gallup, which coach Bryan Harsin said might be the best duo in college football.

Stevens ranks No. 9 in the nation in passing yards (2,865), 11th in passing touchdowns (22) and 19th in passing yards per game (286.5). Gallup leads the nation in receiving yards (1,196) is No. 2 in receiving yards per game (119.6) and No. 7 in receptions per game (7.6).

“Gallup is a special player and Nick Stevens has played really well,” Harsin said. “They’ve been explosive on the offensive side.”

Said defensive coordinator Andy Avalos, “We’re definitely going to have our hands full with those two.”

Boise State’s offense has been clicking lately as well. The Broncos’ best two offensive games have come the past two weeks in which they put up 41 points against both Utah State and Nevada.

The Broncos have been tabbed as five-point favorites by oddsmakers in Las Vegas, which may be a bit light considering the 31-point average margin of victory the past three times they’ve played Colorado State on the road.

After stumbling down the stretch the past two seasons and missing out on the Mountain West championship game, the Broncos are back in the position again. Three games left. Two wins needed. And it starts Saturday against the Rams.

“We just take it one game at a time,” Boise State running back Alexander Mattison said. “We know this is the next game. This is the biggest game for us right now. We’re just taking it one game at a time, one opponent at a time. As long as we keep attacking it that way, we’ll do well.”

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