Colorado State Rams
QB Nick Stevens
Colorado State’s senior quarterback leads the FBS in passing yards with 980 and has taken only two sacks through three games. In the Rams’ two games this year against Power 5 opponents, Stevens has completed 58 percent of his passes and thrown for three touchdowns and three interceptions. He was named to the All-Mountain West Second Team in 2015, his last full season as the starter. He lost the starting job last year to true freshman Collin Hill, but regained it when Hill suffered a season-ending knee injury in October.
WR Michael Gallup
After playing two seasons at junior college, Gallup transferred to Colorado State in 2016 and made an immediate impact, catching 76 passes for 1,272 yards and 14 touchdowns en route to First Team All-Mountain West honors. He was named to this year’s Preseason All-Mountain West team and has proven to be an even bigger part of the offense than he was last year, with 26 catches through three games. His 304 receiving yards rank fourth out of all receivers on the 129 teams in the FBS. Also, Gallup earned 16 varsity letters in high school (four each in football, basketball, baseball, and track & field)
LB Josh Watson
Watson, a redshirt junior, has never missed a game in his collegiate career, having played in 29 straight games for the Rams. He recorded 10 or more tackles in five games last year and finished the year with 90 tackles, the second-most on the team. Of those 90 tackles, 7.5 were for loss, which ranked third on the team. He is tasked with filling the void vacated by Kevin Davis, who recorded 100+ tackles in each of the last two years, but has since graduated. So far, Watson has been up to the challenge. He leads the team with 25 tackles, 10 more than any other player, and has led the team in tackles in all three games.
C Jake Bennett
Colorado State’s other Preseason All-Mountain West honoree, Bennett was also put on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, given annually to the best center in college football. The Rams’ offensive line gave up only one sack per game last year, which ranked eighth in the country, but lost three starters in the offseason. Colorado State has also dealt with injuries along the offensive line to begin this season. Bennett provides some welcome stability, having started 29 straight games. He also played left guard during his sophomore year, so coaches could lean on his versatility in a pinch.
Alabama Crimson Tide
RB Bo Scarbrough
The running back who rushed for over 450 yards in the Crimson Tide’s final four games last season has been a shell of himself so far in 2017. Granted, Scarbrough is coming back from off-season surgery and has only carried the ball 21 times, he still has yet to break out. He is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry, and his longest run of the season was a mere nine yards. Alabama has a bevy of running backs to choose from, but expect Scarbrough to receive a bulk of the attempts Saturday against the Rams’ defense, which is allowing just under 120 yards per game on the ground this season.
RT Matt Womack
Last weekend was one to remember for Womack. The redshirt sophomore warranted SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors after an impressive game against Fresno State, in just his second game as a starter. Womack has been in a battle for that coveted right tackle spot with Jedrick Wills, but has received the majority of first team reps at the position this week in practice and after his performance against the Bulldogs, he will be expected to do the same against the Rams.
CB Anthony Averett
After recording his first interception of the season last Saturday against Fresno State, Averett was awarded defensive player of the week honors by the Alabama coaching staff. The senior cornerback will have to bring his A-game once again this weekend against a pass heavy Colorado State offense and a group of talented wide outs led by Michael Gallup. Even though Averett is mostly praised for his cover skills, he has proven he can be a factor in the tackling department, as well. Averett is currently second on the team in tackles, behind only Ronnie Harrison.
DT Da’Ron Payne
This is the matchup you need to watch Saturday: Da’Ron Payne vs. Colorado State’s Jake Bennett. Both players are regarded as one of the best in college football at their respective positions and Payne has a lot to prove after a slow start to the season. He has yet to record a tackle for loss, but his size and dominance requires a multitude or double teams. Expect Payne to come out on Saturday with a great mindset, and don’t be surprised to see him stop the Colorado State ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage more than once.