Following their 31-24 road victory against Nevada on Saturday, Colorado State is the only team with five wins in the entire Mountain West conference, and they’re also the only Mountain West team to receive AP votes.
Head coach Jim McElwain’s squad found themselves in the “honorable mention” category of the nation’s AP top-25 rankings. With three votes, the Rams are tied with North Dakota State for 38th in the nation, an impressive feat for the streaking Mountain West power.
“I would do cartwheels if I could, I’m just not athletic enough,” McElwain said on Monday. “But I think that’s kind of neat that people are starting to take note of what we’re building and the direction we’re headed. That’s a real positive.”
But it should be no surprise that this team is receiving some attention. The team’s week one win against CU was impressive to the nation’s voting committee and the win over Boston College made most completely forget about the loss to Boise State. Saturday’s win over Nevada, however, is what catapulted the Rams in the rankings.
Nevada entered the game with similar circumstances as Colorado State. The Wolf Pack had beaten a Pac-12 team earlier in the season (Washington State) and they had barely lost to Boise State (51-46). The Rams knew that if they could beat the Wolf Pack in Reno, they could beat the best teams in the conference.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about that victory,” McElwain said. “How we won at BC on the road, our offense had to go score on the last play of the game. And you want to talk about the complete team, now our defense had an opportunity to win it at the end of the game.”
While Charles “Big Chuck” Lovett scored the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter against Boston College, Rams junior cornerback DeAndre Elliot finished off the Wolf Pack with a fourth-quarter game-ending interception.
It’s been big performances from players like Elliot that have gotten the Rams wins and AP votes. Through six games, Rams quarterback Garrett Grayson has played exceptionally well (currently 14th in passing yards) and Rashard Higgins has been on fire (776 yards, 10 touchdowns).
It’s certainly a joyous time for Rams football, but McElwain and his players know that they must forget about what they have done and start to think about what they’re going to do next. With Utah State (4-2) coming to town this Saturday, the Rams will have to work hard to correct whatever mistakes led to a near-comeback from Nevada, and McElwain embraces that challenge.
“I’m excited as heck about this week because we get another opportunity to play a great football team that won our side last year,” McElwain said. “(Utah State) is a team that’s playing really, really good; a team that obviously knows how to get the ball back, force you to punt it; an offense that’s clicking with some great playmakers and the different way they get these guys the ball.”
The Rams are heading into their contest with Utah State with a full head of steam, especially since they haven’t lost a game since Sept. 6. But what is perhaps more exciting for the Rams is what will happen after their game against Utah State.
If the Rams win, will CSU students and fans get to see their team nationally ranked for the first time in over a decade? Will the Rams have a shot at a bigger, better bowl game?
They will just have to wait and see.
Collegian Sports Reporter Steven Jacobs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @steven_jacobs_.