What do you do when everything you’ve got isn’t enough? The CSU football team is in the midst of figuring that out.
At the start of the season, they set out with a goal to make a bowl game. And beyond that, to come away with a victory. To do so, they had to win 7 games, including winning 3 of their final five games.
With their 58-13 victory over Air Force Saturday, the Rams put themselves in the perfect position and are bowl eligible for the first time since 2008. Besides that, they posted the best record the Ram community has seen since 2003.
“We came into this game knowing we needed to score a lot of points to keep up,” senior center Weston Richburg said. “Our defense did a great job of shutting them down and we were able to continue doing what we’ve done most of the season and it was a lot of fun.”
It may not be enough.
Fresno State, the No. 1 team in the Mountain West, went into the final weekend of the regular season undefeated. They were supposed to beat San Jose State, solidifying their bid for a BCS bowl appearance. But, they lost, taking away one of the six bowl slots available to Mountain West teams – not good for the Rams.
Later Saturday night, the University of Las Vegas Nevada pulled off a 45-19 upset against San Diego State, bringing the Rebel’s record to 7-5. Excluding the Rams, MW teams had only to win 6 games in order to be bowl eligible. This means that UNLV was already bowl-eligible before the matchup against SDSU, and the extra win might place them ahead of CSU for a bowl bid.
It seems unfair that the Rams are the only team in the conference required to take 7 games instead of 6 to be worthy of a bowl, but it was the trade the athletic department made in order for the Rams to play Alabama back in September.
So what does this mean for the best Ram football team in a decade? It means crossing fingers, praying and waiting. Seven eligible teams will wait for six slots to be filled. The announcement will come Sunday.
Five out of five MW analysts have the Rams playing in a bowl; two predict the Hawaii Bowl, two the Idaho Potato Bowl, and one has the Rams in the New Mexico Bowl. If someone is going to be left out, most are saying it will be UNLV.
“We want to keep moving forward to the bowl game and win, and send the seniors out right,” quarterback Garrett Grayson said. “I think we’ve put up enough points the past few weeks to get us there.”
However, aside from wins and points, bowl bids also factor in attendance records in order to predict ticket sales as potential profit. CSU’s fan attendance has been dismal this year, which might knock the Rams out of the mix.
Always the optimist, coach Jim McElwain is not letting the pressure of possible disappointment bring him down.
“Our guys played the number one team in the country (Alabama), they have battled, they have dominated some opponents; we have a pretty good football team that a lot of people would like to see. We’ll see what happens.” McElwain said. “That was a heck of a win and a way to go out.”Football Beat Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @c_rasta5.