It's going to be a reunion of sorts December 20th down in Las Vegas, as the Utes will take on the Colorado State Rams in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. Utah and CSU were conference mates for years, before Utah bolted the Mountain West Conference for the greener grass of the Pac-12.
The Utes last took on Colorado State at Rice-Eccles Stadium, October 23rd, 2010, and routed the Rams 59-6. The Utes racked up 648 yards as Jordan Wynn threw for 321 yards and 3 touchdowns. Collectively, the Utes ran for 220 yards, and were lead by Sausan Shakerin who had 80 yards on 4 carries.
Utah is 55-22-2 all-time versus CSU, and dominated the most recent years of the series.
CSU is coming off of a 10-2 regular season, and were 6-2 in the MWC. CSU is QB'd by Garrett Grayson, who was the MWC Offensive Player of the year. Grayson was the conference leader in passing yards (3,779), passing yards per game (314.9), touchdowns (32), passing efficiency (171.3) and total offense (312.8).
Grayson was throwing to all-conference 1st team wide receiver Rashard Higgins. Higgins had 1640 yards receiving on the season, and should prove to be quite the matchup versus Eric Rowe and company.
In the backfield at running back is Dee Hart, a 1200 yard running back this season, and a member of the 2nd team all-conference offense. Hart was a transfer from Alabama, where coach Jim McElwain came from to coach CSU.
CSU is a formidable offensive squad, ranking 8th overall in passing in the country. Defensively, CSU is ranked in the top-25 in points allowed, but only have one player on the all-conference team - linebacker Aaron Davis.
CSU's losses on the season came to Boise State (37-24) and Air Force (27-24). The big story for CSU going into the bowl is the loss of head coach Jim McElwain, who has been hired by Florida to be the Gators new head coach, something Utah fans can relate to. CSU will be coached by Dave Baldwin in the bowl, the teams offensive coodinator. Baldwin was the OC at Utah State under Gary Anderson for two years.
While not a sexy matchup, it will be a good test for the Utes, and it will be a little fun to match up against a former conference rival.
The Las Vegas Bowls kicks off December 20th at 1:30pm MT, and to top it off, the Utah Men's Basketball team will be playing UNLV later that night in Sin City. Tickets are on sale now, so go to utahutes.com and get you tickets for both games!