Colorado State football will travel south down I-25 next week for its third appearance in the New Mexico Bowl in the last decade.
Their opponent, the Marshall Thundering Herd, is a household name due to Hollywood’s telling of the 1970 plane crash that killed 75 people, including 37 Marshall football players.
It is no secret that the Rams came into the 2017 season with Mountain West Championship expectations, so this result is undoubtedly disappointing for much of the Colorado State faithful. When factoring in that CSU was a victory over Boise State away from playing in the conference championship game, this season will definitely be thought of as the one that got away.
However, when considering the other realistic options for bowl appearances, the New Mexico Bowl is far from CSU’s worst option. A quick road trip to Albuquerque, N.M. is significantly more desirable than playing on a frozen tundra in Idaho or subjecting the team to another 12-hour plane ride to Hawaii for a game on Christmas Eve.
Would it have been exciting to see CSU play a team like Houston? Absolutely. However, when considering the game will be competing with holiday festivities and the NFL schedule, the bowl game would not be that great of exposure. Not to mention that the vast majority of the fans and players’ families would not be able to attend the game.
So my message to the diehard Ram fans is simple: embrace Lobo country and enjoy the conclusion of the historic 2017 season.
You have a gorgeous new stadium and other facilities that are improving by the year. You have a football program that is bowl eligible for a fifth consecutive season. You have a head coach that is dedicated to the program as a whole and did I mention the fact that the Rams will be the only Division I football program from Colorado playing in the postseason this winter?
If none of that gets you jazzed, the matchup itself is actually fairly intriguing. Both of these programs are in a similar position after starting the season on high notes and floundering in conference play.
Despite starting the season 6-1 and beating Cincinnati on Sept. 30, the Thundering Herd finished third in the very average Conference USA after dropping four of its final five games, including a pair of losses to UTSA and Southern Mississippi to conclude the regular season.
These teams are also very similar on paper. Both CSU (33.8 points per game) and Marshall (26.3 points per game) have the ability to put big points on the board and will be looking to close out the season with an exclamation point.
The 2017 New Mexico Bowl may not be the Rose Bowl but it should be a fairly competitive football game, so hit the road and support your team one last time this season.
This senior never class has never finished a season below .500 and deserves to go out the right way.
Collegian sports director Justin Michael can be reached at email@example.com or Twitter @JustinTMichael.