Just two wins from bowl eligibility with four games remaining in the schedule, CSU controls their own destiny when it comes to postseason play. A .500 finish would make CSU football bowl eligible for a fourth consecutive season, but the Rams need to aim higher.
With two conference losses, the green and gold will not be competing for a Mountain West Championship this season. That being said, CSU can still finish the season with a bang by finishing at least 7-5. Winning six games would get the job done, but honestly most .500 bowl games are a joke and at this point. The fans should expect more from CSU football.
Even in the previous three seasons, the Rams finished at least one game above .500. With the schedule remaining (Fresno State, Air Force, New Mexico and San Diego State), the expectation for this season needs to be to match the standard that has been set.
CSU should be favorites in the next three games and a trio of victories would certainly be huge before the Rams have to travel to SDSU for their toughest game of the season. Considering the rollercoaster that this season has been, finishing with at least seven wins would be impressive for this young Rams team and it is not inconceivable that they can do it.
On both sides of the ball, the Rams are battle tested and have faced adversity all season. Over the past couple of games, we have seen this unit come together and play some truly fantastic football under extremely tough conditions.
After starting the season with a quarterback controversy, it would not have been surprising to see this season spiral out of control, but under Collin Hill we began to see the big play potential that a Mike Bobo offense has. When Hill went down, Nick Stevens returned and has arguably put together a few of the best starts of his career.
The offensive line and running backs are performing at an elite level and an extremely young defense, although inconsistent, has really stepped up to keep the team in ballgames. The way this team has performed over the past month, it is obvious that they have the talent to compete with anybody in the Mountain West, which is why fans need to expect more than a .500 finish.
If it was 2013 and the Rams were coming off of a 4-8 finish, I would understand getting excited for a 6-6 season, but at this point the expectations are more in line with competing for conference championship and with that not likely in the cards, a strong close to the season and a respectable bowl appearance is the next best scenario for CSU football.
The reality is a bowl game is a bowl game, no matter the record and obviously if the Rams do finish .500 and get a bowl bid, they should accept it. Realistically the bowl bid they would receive at 7-5, may not even be a whole lot different than it would be at 6-6, but the principle is what matters.
A lot about CSU football has improved over the last half-decade and even more is going to change when the Rams move into the on-campus stadium in 2017, but the program is still a long way from being a national name like Boise State. Finishing above .500 and making a fourth consecutive bowl game would be another step in the right direction for this program.
Collegian sports reporter Justin Michael can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @JustinTMichael.