Fort Collins, the big game is this Saturday; will you be there?
Colorado State football has a chance to make history this weekend when they play Mountain West foe Boise State on Sonny Lubick's Field at Hughes Stadium.
The Rams, hot off back-to-back MW wins for the first time since 2002, look to earn their first win over the Broncos since Boise joined the conference. A victory would push CSU over .500 for the first time this deep into a season under Jim McElwain and set the team up needing two wins in their final four contests to make a coveted bowl.
But it won't be easy; Boise State has been the class of the conference for a few years now and they've blown Colorado State out the last two seasons by a combined score of 107-27.
“So if you're a guy that's been involved in that, do you show up and say, 'Gosh, not this again?'” McElwain asked of his team coming into this crucial contest. “You know what happens when you get taken out (to the) backside of the woodshed is your Dad's going to beat the heck out of you. So, now, we've got to play this team in blue that is going to come and take us outside the woodshed because they did before.”
Knowing it'll be an uphill climb, physically, but maybe more importantly, mentally, McElwain challenged his team. “Let's face it, we lost this game. Who do we play next? Who do we play after Boise? OK, let's talk about Nevada.”
“That to me is the question; Do we show up?” Coach Mac continued. “Based on history, we don't belong on the field with these guys.”
But it must be noted that neither of these teams are who they were last year or the year before.
The last two teams from Boise went a combined 21-3, this year's Broncos squad is only 5-3, losing 37-20 to BYU last Saturday. And Colorado State rarely won the last two seasons, now they're 4-4 and hungry for more.
“It's interesting, because this isn't the same team that showed up the last two years, our team,” said McElwain. “Meaning, they're different. They care about each other. They understand what it means to go compete.”
But, will it mean CSU can put together a win against a hungry and confident Boise State team?
McElwain continued and said while Colorado State can't control what Boise does, the Rams have to focus on themselves. Be it preparation this week in practice, their mindset while reviewing film and the way they come out and play this Saturday evening; Coach Mac stuck to his mantra that it's not about the other team, it's about what CSU does.
Realistically, if the Rams can come out and play like they have the last month, they'll have a great shot.
Kapri Bibbs is running the rock with a passion and purpose, scoring three touchdowns per game in CSU's last three wins. It all starts up front, where the Rams offensive line has been physically dominant as the season has worn on, opening up holes for Bibbs as well as Donnell Alexander. And when Garrett Grayson throws the ball, he's got talented receivers in tight ends Kivon Cartwright and Crockett Gillmore as well as wideout Rashard Higgins.
Defensively, CSU's showed flashes of brilliance. DeAndre Elliot's take-away interception and Max Morgan's 73-yard fumble recovery touchdown last week were both big plays that swayed the momentum in the Rams favor. And Shaquil Barrett has been a disruptive force in teams' backfields all year long.
Interestingly, McElwain noted that he was quite unhappy with the team's lack of effort on special teams last weekend and that this Saturday's game could come down to special teams play.
We'll all know how well the Rams prepared, how much they focused and how ready they are to play when the game kicks off at 6 p.m. MT Saturday. Of course, it would be a boost to CSU's chances if a loud and proud Rams crowd showed up, so make sure you get down to the stadium, Fort Collins.
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. Follow Rich on Twitter (@RichKurtzman) for all your CSU Rams news and opinion.