ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Colorado State football will cap the 2017 season against Marshall in the New Mexico Bowl Saturday, concluding what has been a historic year for the program.
While there is no denying that the Rams fell short of the ultimate goal of winning a Mountain West Conference Championship, players and coaches spoke of the importance of finishing the season on the right note and winning the New Mexico Bowl for the third time in ten years Thursday.
One day after signing a three-year contract extension, head coach Mike Bobo expressed that his goal from day one has been to build a perennial championship contender. The program did not accomplish this feat in 2017, but Bobo knows that winning postseason games is crucial for CSU as a whole.
If the Rams are going to get a to a place where they are competing for league titles on a yearly basis, they cannot afford to overlook opponents like Marshall. Especially when considering CSU has lost three straight bowl games, including a loss to Idaho in the Potato Bowl (2016) and Nevada in the Arizona Bowl (2015).
Bobo explained that the best and most consistent teams in the country never overlook their opponents.
“I think we have a tendency, in today’s world, to kind of do that and think the games are played on paper,” Bobo said. “They are not played on paper (though). They are played in the preparation and how you get ready. Then you still have to go out and earn that victory that day.”
With their reputation on the line, senior quarterback Nick Stevens likes the focus his team has possessed over the last two weeks. Between finals, football and the festivities associated with bowl games, there have been a great deal of outside distractions, but the team has handled the situation appropriately.
“It was definitely nice to have a little bit of time off. I think it was a recovery period for us,” Stevens said.
The Murrieta, Calif. native explained that the players were able to have some time off while the coaches were out recruiting; but once they were back in practice, the team had a business mindset and was ready to get back to work.
Stevens also stressed that players this year are hungry for a victory. In years past, some of the players may have been focused more on having fun vacation, rather than winning a football game, but this year has been different.
“I think we have a different mindset this year,” Stevens said. “The mindset this year is that we are locked in and ready to win a game… Obviously there are times where you are able to have fun and have a good time, but the mindset and attitude has been great. We are not focused on anything but winning the game.”
The game will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and will be televised on ESPN. The Rams will be competing for a sixth consecutive victory in Dreamstyle Stadium.
Collegian sports director Justin Michael can be reached at email@example.com or Twitter @JustinTMichael.