Undefeated at the midway point of conference play, the Colorado State football team controls its own destiny in the Mountain West.
The team’s performance to this point in the season has garnered some national attention. For the fourth consecutive week, the Rams received votes in USA Today’s Amway Coaches Poll. This week marks the first time all season that CSU is the highest ranked team from the MW in the poll.
Though the Rams still have a steep hill to climb to crack the top 25, their position atop the MW is not unnoticed. Combined with opening the on-campus stadium, housing one of the best receivers in the nation and playing on the ESPN networks on multiple occasions, CSU has found itself in the national spotlight throughout 2017.
For head coach Mike Bobo, it’s a different kind of attention than his team received through his first two years in Fort Collins.
“I say it all the time, you’ve got to ignore the noise outside,” Bobo said. “The first two years, it was ignore the noise of the negativity that we were struggling. At this point of the season, we were fighting trying to get bowl eligible. It’s a little bit different now.”
Despite the success, Bobo understands that his team is far from its end goal, that being a Mountain West championship. There are still plenty of corrections to be made on all three sides of the ball, and that improvement comes on a weekly basis.
“The goal is to win one week at a time,” Bobo said. “Since I’ve been here, and especially this year, we’ve got to focus on what we can control, and that’s getting ready for this week.”
“That’s my job as a coach to get that point across to our assistant coaches, and our assistant coaches to get that point across to our players,” he continued. “That’s our MO of how we operate on a daily basis.”
That preparation may be more difficult than ever as the Rams will be without key contributors for multiple weeks. Safety Jamal Hicks will likely miss the remainder of the season after suffering a broken arm against New Mexico. Wide receiver Olabisi Johnson is expected to miss at least two weeks with a sprained MCL.
However, the Rams are confident that their depth and preparation will allow them to overcome the myriad of injures.
“I believe in this coaching staff, I believe in this program. When we say next guy up, everybody’s prepared,” running back Izzy Matthews said following the game against New Mexico. “As unfortunate as it is, it doesn’t make me blink an eye because I know we have another guy next up that’s gonna come in and do the job just as well.”
Meanwhile, the Rams will continue to handle an increasing amount of national recognition. It’s something they expected coming into 2017. More importantly, it’s something Bobo and the Rams are prepared for.
“I told them that expectations are gonna be bigger this year because of this facility, because of the commitment to athletics, because of the commitment to football,” Bobo said. “I want to be in a place that has high expectations.”
Collegian sports editor Colin Barnard can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_.