Colorado State did exactly what it was supposed to Saturday afternoon.
Against a Savannah State team who has lost 22 consecutive games, the Rams dominated from start to finish, destroying the Tigers 65-13 in head coach Mike Bobo’s debut as head coach. SSU, who many consider to be the one of the worst team playing football at the Division I level, opened the game with two consecutive mishandled shotgun snaps, with the second resulting in a fumble recovery by CSU linebacker Kevin Davis in the end zone to put CSU up 7-0.
The onslaught was on from there. CSU would score two more touchdowns and connect on a field goal to take a 24-0 lead – at the end of the first quarter. In the first half alone, the Rams totaled 392 yards and six touchdowns. First-year quarterback Nick Stevens picked apart Savannah State’s secondary, tossing four touchdowns to four different receivers in the first 30 minutes.
“It was good to start off with a score on defense,” linebacker Kiel Robinson said. “KD (Davis) was there to recover, and I was ready to recover it, but it’s kind of amazing to start off with a play like that. It’s huge to score first and then come out and get a 3-and-out the next series. It boosted our momentum sky high and any of the nerves we had just went out the window.”
Despite four turnovers, and a mental lapse by wide receiver Jordon Vaden, who dropped the ball at the 1-yard line after a 99-yard kickoff return, Bobo was pleased his first win as head coach, which also doubled as the win No. 500 for the CSU football program.
“Overall, both sides of the ball played well, but the turnovers on offense are the one thing we’ve got to correct,” Bobo said. “One of them was just poor ball security, and the others were some protection issues that we’ve got to get cleaned up. Any time you turn the ball over four times, you’re not going to win many games. Defensively, we tackled well and we played hard.”
As a whole, CSU’s defense finished with six sacks, 16 tackles for loss and came away with two turnovers. Senior defensive end Martavius Foster recorded the first three sacks of his career, and redshirt freshman Josh Watson proved why coaches were high on him during fall camp, totaling nine tackles, including three for loss. What stood out most to players on both sides of the ball was their ability to keep their foot on the gas from start to finish, which was no more apparent than on freshman Izzy Matthews’ 37-yard touchdown run on the second-to-last play of the game. The Rams opened the game with a touchdown, and closed it with one, too.
“That’s one thing Coach Bobo always talks about, is never getting complacent,” senior safety and captain Kevin Pierre-Louis said. “If you start letting off the gas, then that’s when the other team starts building some momentum. Today we did a good job of not letting them find that momentum. We’ve got a lot to work on, and we’ll go in the film room after we celebrate this win for 48 hours. After that, we’re moving on to the next opponent.”
Colorado State’s next opponent may be its toughest matchup of the year, when Minnesota comes to Hughes Stadium next Saturday. The Golden Gophers, who finished second in the Big Ten West Division last season, are coming off a 23-17 home loss to No. 2 TCU Friday night.
Collegian Senior Sports Reporter Keegan Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.