The Colorado Buffaloes are 7-2, currently ranked No.12 in the college football playoff and control their own destiny to have a shot at a conference championship game. A game they have not played in since their 70-3 dismantling by the hands of the Texas Longhorns and Vince Young in the 2005 BIG 12 championship game.
I grew up a Colorado Buffaloes fan. My father was a diehard black and gold bleeder who would share with me the legends of players like Eric Bieniemy and Kordell Stewart and the magical runs at Folsom in the late 80s and early 90s.
Back then, Colorado football was good, and it was good for the state of Colorado.
In the last five years or so, my personal interest in the Buffaloes has waned significantly. Yes, it is because the program has been dreadful for the better part of a decade, but one also learns to dislike the Buffs after four years in Fort Collins.
Two years ago, the Rams were on the rise, and the fans poured out to support that team. After that 10 win season under Jim McElwain, and from what coach Mike Bobo has done and looks to continue to do, especially with the recruits he’s bringing in, it can be argued that the Rams are on a path towards sustained success.
But now, the Buffs are rolling and Folsom is rockin’ every week. There is a buzz in Boulder that can be felt all the way up the Front Range.
That buzz is not necessarily a bad thing. With the Buffaloes on the rise, so is football in the state of Colorado.
Plenty of Ram fans and Fort Collins residents will look to the South, and the Buff’s success in disgust, but hold the disdain.
Was there ever a more fun time to be a Ram fan, and a football fan in Colorado for that matter, back when the Rocky Mountain Showdown was truly a showdown? Back when two ranked teams, or at least one ranked team, whether that be the Rams or the Buffs, met in the first game of the year coming off bowl trip seasons and aiming to do the same thing again?
Not since NO. 23 CSU’s 42-35 loss in the 2003 Showdown has either team been ranked when the game took place, and neither team has finished the year ranked in the AP poll since 2002.
But, this is no longer the Steve Fairchild or the Dan Hawkins era. Things are changing in the Colorado football landscape.
It’s time for the Rams to take a page out of the Buff’s book. How can they look down on Boulder and shake their heads when 10,000 seats sit empty at Hughes Stadium with a conference opponent in town, even though it might be 1-8 Fresno State?
The Power Five ship has sailed, at least for this year, now all the Rams can do is emulate their neighbors and aim to be the best team in their conference.
Yes, the PAC-12 certainly carries more weight, but doesn’t that make the Showdown all the bigger if and when both teams hold steady success and CSU can knock off a Power Five foe?
Or what about the potential recruits who might completely overlook the state of Colorado because the two most prominent football programs are entangled in mediocrity?
This is no longer the case for either school.
Yes, the Buffaloes are the ones getting all the attention right now, but success brings notoriety, and the Rams could certainly stand to gain some of that.
They got embarrassed week one against the Buffs on national television. But what if they competed with and even beat a CU team that had some PAC-12 titles under their belt?
And hasn’t what CU has done this year make that week one loss look just a little bit better for CSU’s program?
Instead of looking down on Boulder, Rams can look to what a changing landscape in Colorado can bring.
What Ram fans can stand to do is support that movement. To pack Hughes like the Buffs pack Folsom, even if the Buffs are playing for bigger stakes right now.
To join in the return of prominence to college football in the state of Colorado and celebrate the fact that Colorado college football is getting better.
I’m not suggesting that Ram season-ticket holders forgo their on-campus stadium seats for a new plot in Folsom, but instead of treating CU’s “rise” as the worst possible thing that could happen to football in the state of Colorado, start looking at it as something that can help bring Colorado State’s and Colorado’s rise along with it.
Collegian sports reporter Eric Wolf can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Eric_Wolf5