The Sweep

SI.com's All-American Blog Team

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Colorado State must keep Fresno State punt returner
Rashad Evans under control.
Todd Davis/Icon SMI

Fresno State (7-5) vs. Colorado State (6-6)
Dec. 20, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN


Reason To Watch: If this were the regular season, you probably wouldn't tune in. The Rams needed to win their last two games to even get to six wins and become bowl eligible. Fresno State went from being ranked No. 21 and having slim BCS hopes to finishing with a ho-hum 7-5 record after losing three of their last five (and giving up at least 38 points in each of those defeats). But hey, watching it still beats dealing with masses of humanity at the mall on the Saturday before Christmas, doesn't it?

Keep An Eye On:
The Bulldogs' return game vs. a Rams return defense that's been more than willing to give up yards. Fresno State is seventh nationally in punt returns behind Rashad Evans (14.1 yards per return) and 17th in kickoff returns, led by A.J. Jefferson (29.3 ypr), while Colorado State ranks 107th in punt return defense and 112th in kickoff return D. Fresno State could consistently have a short field for Tom Brandstater and Co. to work with.

Did You Know?: Colorado State and Fresno State are vying for game trophy that's a 20-inch piece of handcrafted Zia Pueblo pottery decorated with Pueblo symbols, the bowl and team logos and images of football players, a deer, mountain lion, buffalo and eagle. The game MVPs get leather shields.

Final Analysis: The Rams are excited to be anywhere this postseason, while this is a major drop-off from what Pat Hill's Bulldogs envisioned. Colorado State was picked to finish eighth in the MWC, but Steve Fairchild has led the Rams to their first bowl since 2005. Colorado State's offense closed strong, averaging 29.6 points per game in its last five games behind 1,000-yard rusher Gartrell Johnson, who had four 100-yard games during that stretch. The Rams should keep the momentum going against a Bulldogs team that may just be happy to see this season end.

The Pick: Colorado State 28, Fresno State 20

(SI.com's NFL draft guru Tony Pauline breaks down which prospects to watch in this bowl game.)

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