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Updated: Saturday, November 16, 2002 8:50 AM EST
NCAA FOOTBALL PREVIEW
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No. 17 Colorado St (8-2) at San Diego St (3-7)
COLORADO ST. RAMS
Colorado St. Rams
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SAN DIEGO ST. AZTECS
San Diego St. Aztecs
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SAN DIEGO (Ticker) -- Last season's 14-7 loss to San Diego State turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Colorado State quarterback Bradlee Van Belt.

With the offense struggling, Van Pelt entered the game in relief and directed Colorado State to its only score. He became the team's starter the following week and has been at the helm ever since.

Van Pelt makes his 20th consecutive start Saturday when the 17th-ranked Rams visit the Aztecs in a Mountain West Conference contest. In his two years as a starter, Van Pelt has led Colorado State to a 15-4 record.

The Rams (8-2, 4-0) took control of the Mountain West race with a 31-12 victory over Air Force in their last outing on October 31. They have reeled off four straight wins since a loss to Fresno State and are the only unbeaten team in the conference.

Colorado State held Air Force to just 250 total yards, while Cecil Sapp rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns, his seventh 100-yard game of the season. The school record is nine, set by Steve Bartalo in 1986.

Sapp has scored 16 touchdowns and, with 1,222 yards, is on pace to break Bartalo's single-season school rushing mark of 1,419, also established in 1986.

At one time, it appeared San Diego State (3-7, 3-2) could contend for a conference title with a losing record. After starting 0-5, the Aztecs began MWC play with three straight wins.

But San Diego State has dropped its last two contests, including a 15-8 setback to New Mexico last week in a game played in 40-mile-per-hour winds. The Aztecs were held without a touchdown, recording a safety and two field goals in the difficult conditions.

The lone bright spot for San Diego State was receiver J.R. Tolver, who had four receptions to set a single-season school record with 87. Tolver is second in the NCAA in receptions per game (8.7) and receiving yards (128.0).

San Diego State leads the all-time series, 12-9, but Colorado State posted a 24-22 victory two years ago in its last visit to Qualcomm Stadium.


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