Keys to the game: CSU football faces Florida Gators in bid for second straight SEC football upset

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Less than two weeks ago, CSU football had one win over an SEC opponent in program history.

Can the Rams turn it into three all-time with back-to-back SEC wins?

Colorado State University, fresh off a home win against Arkansas, plays Florida (1-1) at “The Swamp” at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Here’s a look at keys to the game as the Rams (1-2) look for another upset.

Bring the swagger back

CSU spent the first two weeks of the season looking like a team scared to make mistakes. In turn, the Rams played slow, sloppy  and paid dearly.

Last week, the Rams had a whole different confidence, “belief” was their word. Whatever it was, even when Arkansas made big plays to build a 27-9 lead in the second half, CSU didn’t flinch.

It was a big change from the first two weeks and last season, when the Rams failed to make big plays when needed in big games.

This team has lots of players from the South who grew up watching SEC football. After beating Arkansas last week, the Rams are playing with house money.

A loss is expected, Florida is a 20 ½-point favorite. Momentum doesn’t carry much weight, but the confidence from the big comeback over Arkansas should allow the Rams to at least play loose.

Find a run game

Confidence going into the game is all well and good, but what does CSU need to do from an X’s and O’s standpoint to threaten the upset?

CSU’s offense is completely built on the pass so far this season. K.J. Carta-Samuels is second in the nation in passing yards (1,102) and Preston Williams is second in receiving yards (391). CSU has less than 300 rushing yards this season.

Florida gave up more than 300 rushing yards in a home loss to Kentucky last week, but don’t look for a comparison with CSU. Kentucky’s Benny Snell is an all-SEC running back while CSU’s offensive line has struggled mightily.

But the Rams would be well-served to have at least a small dose of run game to keep the defense honest.

Carta-Samuels and Williams will look to connect often. Defensive emphasis on stopping Williams could open chances for Warren Jackson, Bisi Johnson or Cam Butler to win one-on-one battles and make significant plays.

Hold strong on D

Florida’s offense has struggled for years as the Gators haven’t found a star player at quarterback. Feleipe Franks is completing 53 percent of his passes for 225 yards per game.

But CSU’s defense has struggled, allowing 38 points per game even after the big fourth-quarter effort last week.

More: Emerging CSU football star Emmanuel Jones a hidden gem from SEC territory

The Rams can’t be expected to light up the scoreboard against Florida’s big, athletic defense.

CSU’s defensive unit still gave up yards and a couple big plays against Arkansas, but the Rams also had interceptions on the first Arkansas drive of the game and another late in the first half. They kept the Razorbacks from moving the ball late in the game to secure the comeback.

A positive number in the turnover category is vital in the upset bid.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

►Who: CSU (1-2) vs. Florida (1-1)

When/where: 2 p.m. Saturday, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Florida

►Watch/listen: Watch on SEC Network (Comcast Ch. 432/706 HD, DirecTV Ch. 611, Dish Network Ch. 408). Listen on KARS (FM 102.9) and KDCO (AM 1340 and FM 104.7)

►Facebook live pregame show: Join Coloradoan reporters Kevin Lytle and Kelly Lyell at 1 p.m. Saturday on Facebook for a look at the matchup and their thoughts on the game

►Twitter updates: @Kevin_Lytle, @KellyLyell

►Game-day weather in Gainesville: Mostly sunny with a forecast high temperature of  95 degrees. Chance of precipitation 10 percent

►Coaches and records: CSU is coached by Mike Bobo, who is 22-20 in four seasons. Florida is coached by Dan Mullen, who is 1-1 in his first season at Florida and 70-47 in 10 seasons overall.

►Betting odds: Florida is favored by 20 ½ points

Submit questions for weekly CSU mailbag to KevinLytle@coloradoan.com or by tweeting @Kevin_Lytle.

Source : https://www.coloradoan.com/story/sports/csu/football/2018/09/14/keys-csu-football-florida-football-sec-football-game/1295633002/