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RENO, Nev. – Strong-armed CSU quarterback Garrett Grayson is going up against one of the worst passing defenses in the nation.

And fleet-footed Nevada QB Cody Fajardo is facing one of the worst rushing defenses in the country.

The stage is set for an old-fashioned shootout Saturday, Oct. 11, at the base of the Sierra Nevada, where Colorado State University’s football team hopes to continue “The Climb” — the motto the team adopted this season — from the depths of the Mountain West. Three years ago, CSU was stuck at the bottom of the conference standings with UNLV and New Mexico after a third consecutive 3-9 season.

COLORADOAN

Keys to victory: CSU must keep Dee Hart, Jasen Oden fresh at Nevada

Now, the Rams (4-1, 0-1 MW) are being talked about as one of the favorites to win a suddenly wide-open race for the Mountain Division and conference titles. That’s what happens when you win four of your first five games on the heels of an 8-6 record and bowl win the previous season.

Coach Jim McElwain, who took over the CSU program following that 2011 season when the Rams went 1-6 in league play, seems to have the program back on track.

“Coming from my first year, and just seeing the changes that Coach Mac has made since I’ve been here, it’s extremely exciting to be part of it,” the senior Grayson said.

The Rams face Nevada (3-2, 1-1) this week, defending Mountain Division champion Utah State (3-2, 0-0) the following week and Wyoming (3-2, 1-0) the week after that. It’s make or break time for what could be the best team CSU has had in more than …read more