Certain days of the year make Fort Collins one of the most entertaining places to live in the country.
I’m talking about the days with events such as the free Bohemian Nights concerts that pull names as big as Steve Miller Band, and the days when world-class cyclists roll into town to hit the finish line of a stage on the week-long USA Pro Challenge race through Colorado.
This college town’s unique flavor and honest nickname Fort Fun stem from the many days something is going on you just can’t miss. Tour de Fat is annually one of those events, and so is the CSU football team’s home opener. Since both were held within hours of each other this weekend, Saturday took the name Fort Fun to a new level.
After parading around Old Town in an entirely too baggy vintage Scottie Pippen jersey, a friend and I settled down at Silver Grill Cafe for a late breakfast. We were seated by a window. As we waited for our food, we watched a man outside carrying a red solo cup dressed in nothing but a black afro wig, sunglasses and boxers decorated with hearts turn around and begin to dance, shaking his stuff for everyone on the other side of the window.
The crazy thing was that this spectacle really didn’t even surprise anyone that much. How many places on Earth would behavior like this be considered even slightly normal? The list has to be short. I’m grateful to live in a town with events like Tour de Fat that allow just about everything out of the ordinary to fly.
Another question: How many places on Earth can one go straight from a scene involving thousands of people playing what looks to be a game of drunken dress-up on bicycles to a Division I football season opener at a stadium packed with one’s fellow students that features a stunning mountain view? Once again, the list has to be short.
It is hard to determine what people were more pumped for Saturday: the drunken bicycle costume parade, or the Rams marching onto Sonny Lubick Field for the first time in over eight months. Celebratory cheers were common at both. For me, at least, and I assume many others, the Rams stole the city-wide show Fort Collins put on Saturday, and I think I’d be lying to myself if I said the 65-13 result in favor of CSU had nothing to do with that.
A Rams win always makes it more enjoyable for us students, but the game Saturday involved some elements that upped the fun factor more than usual. With a first-year head coach and a sophomore quarterback replacing the leading passer in school history, the Rams were under plenty of pressure to prove the new era is in good hands. Saturday was Mike Bobo’s and Nick Stevens’ first meaningful chance to show they can be the guys to continue taking CSU football in the direction Jim McElwain and Garrett Grayson began mapping.
Both Stevens and Bobo, along with all of the other Rams on both sides of the ball, came through. The defense showed that it can thrive under Bobo’s new expectations on the second play of the game with a fumble recovery touchdown. Another turnover later on an interception plus 16 tackles for losses made CSU’s defense look up to par.
And Stevens shined individually, really making full use of what looks to be a receiving core that can live up to its hype. By hitting five different targets for touchdowns and throwing for 289 yards, Stevens’ first start as a sophomore looked better on paper than Grayson’s two-touchdown, 173-yard performance against CU in the season opener his sophomore year. This is a guy with the potential to blossom into a three-year starting quarterback.
With what will likely be the realest team the Rams face all season coming to Hughes this Saturday in Minnesota, they have another opportunity to prove they can be a big part of what keeps Fort Collins fun in the fall.
Collegian Assistant Sports Editor Sam Lounsberry can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @samlounz.