The Colorado State football team is set for arguably its toughest competition of conference play against Boise State. While the Rams no longer control their own destiny, Saturday’s game is more than just another conference showdown.
Boise State has been the pinnacle of the MW since joining in 2011. In that time, they have won two MW Championships, finished in the top 25 three times and won four bowl games in six appearances.
More importantly for CSU, they have never beaten the Broncos in six previous attempts. CSU and San Jose State are the only two MW teams who are winless against Boise State. For a team desperately trying to move itself into a new threshold, Saturday’s game presents the Rams an opportunity to do just that.
“You never know, but it’s something that we haven’t done here at Colorado State is beaten Boise. So if you go out and you’re able to do that, who knows where that could lead,” head coach Mike Bobo said. “You don’t know until you look back on it. But it’s one of those hurdles that, if you get it done, it could be something program-defining.”
A program-defining moment is not something that you can pin beforehand, as Bobo reiterated. A win in a certain week may be meaningless weeks down the road, or players thought to make a lasting impact on the university could fizzle away.
But given that Boise State is the lone MW team the Rams have failed to beat, there is no denying that doing so would give the program a sort of completion it has never experienced.
For senior offensive lineman Zack Golditch, who has been a part of four losses to the Broncos already, this is the hump they need to conquer.
“It’s something that no one has done at this program, it’s the hump that we’ve got to get over,” Golditch said. “Bodies are starting to hurt a little bit more, you’ve been in it for so long and you kind of just want to relax but you can’t. I think that, if things go well with this team, you move past a hump.”
Senior wide receiver Michael Gallup, who was the first receiver in the FBS to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards on the season, is looking to add another first come Saturday night.
“We ain’t never beat Boise, I always like being the first to do something. We’ve been working as hard as we ever have,” Gallup said. “We don’t control our own destiny anymore, so you might as well go out there and get a win these last two weeks.”
In addition to the hoopla that Boise State presents, the Rams will be the first college from Colorado to wear Colorado-themed uniforms this weekend. Not only have these created buzz throughout the nation, they give CSU players something else to play for.
For hometown guys like Golditch and wide receiver Olabisi Johnson, that cannot be overstated.
“Personally for me, the State Pride is gonna be huge,” Golditch said. “Not just the outcome of the game, but going out and playing my best because now it’s not just about CSU, it’s about the state of Colorado. I think a lot of guys are gonna rally behind that.”
“You’ve got family coming out just to see these jerseys and to see us play in the jerseys, so it’s really cool,” Johnson added. “I can tell just atmosphere-wise that fans are excited, they want to see our jerseys. We have to get a win for them.”
To add to the excitement, the Rams are coming off their most competitive contest against Boise State last season. Trailing by 25 points midway through the fourth quarter, the Rams rattled off 20 unanswered points before ultimately falling 28-23.
While they were unable to complete the comeback, their ability to compete and fight against the Broncos is something this year’s players have not forgotten.
“Even though we didn’t beat them last year, that fourth quarter comeback, everyone was like, ‘Hey, we can really do something special,’” Golditch said.
With so much added distraction surrounding the game, it’s easy for the Rams to lose focus of the ultimate goal. But Bobo understands what’s really at stake on Saturday: the opportunity to do something CSU has never done.
“It’s gonna represent the state of Colorado, not just Colorado State. That’s something that’s really cool for our state,” Bobo said. “But at the end of the day, we’ve got to go play…It’s great that we’re honoring our state, it’s something unique. What would make it even better is if we went out and found a way to win the ballgame.”
Collegian Sports Editor Colin Barnard can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_.