Colorado State's defense inspires conference title run

Colorado State's veteran defensive line is among the toughest in the Mountain West -- and the country, writes Adam Rittenberg.

Updated: October 5, 2006, 2:28 PM ET
By Adam Rittenberg | Special to ESPN.com
The blueprint for great defense requires contributions from reliable sources and unexpected ones. Colorado State has received both this season.

Led by a defense that ranks fifth nationally (233.2 ypg) -- tops among non-BCS teams -- the Rams are off to their first 3-1 start in four years.

Coach Sonny Lubick had high hopes for a veteran defensive line, and so far the unit has not disappointed. Tackles Erik Sandie and Matt Rupp each have two sacks for the Rams, who rank 15th nationally with 3.25 sacks per game. End Jesse Nading, a preseason All-Mountain West Conference selection, ranks fifth on the team with 17 tackles.