Rams eager for another power-five opportunity

Eric Wolf

The week one showdown with the University of Colorado on ESPN was supposed to be a statement game for the Colorado State football program.

The team had an opportunity to go out on national television and show the world that the Rams could play with the big boys in Division I college football, and they certainly thought that they were going to compete.

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Halfway through the first quarter of that game, the Rams surely had made a statement, just not the one they wanted to make.

Saturday, against the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, the Rams have another chance on a big stage.

“It’s a chance for Colorado State to be seen nationally (and) publicly,” coach Mike Bobo said. “As a coach, as a player, an institution, as a fan base, you want to play good football teams and you want your team to stack up well against other teams. As a competitor, it’s a challenge.”

The team knows that the 44-7 drubbing at the hands of Colorado left a lot of people searching for answers from this team.

Some questions were answered when the team rattled off two-straight wins after that loss, but those wins came against teams from Conference USA and the Big Sky. This week, it is the BIG ten.

The University of Texas-San Antonio and the University of Northern Colorado are not statement games for a football program.

For a team eager to show that they can compete with power-five conference schools, Minnesota is the last shot this year.

“(We want to show people) that CSU football is for real and that we can compete. We did not come out and play our best against CU and the whole world saw that,” tight end Nolan Peralta said. “It’s on us to change people’s minds. Its what have you done for me lately in football, and we are going to take it as an opportunity to show the world that we can play with anybody.”

On Monday, Marty English said that this game serves as the best kind of Barometer test for this CSU team. The Rocky Mountain Showdown was supposed to be the ultimate aptitude test for the young Rams, and it was a test they failed, but this team believes it has come a long way since the season opener.

Saturday provides the team with the chance to show just how far that is.

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The fact that this game serves as the first true road game of the season for CSU leaves open the opportunity for an even bigger statement.

Offensive lineman Jake Bennett said that no stage might be bigger for this team than the Rocky Mountain Showdown so he does not expect the team to be overwhelmed by the environment. But it is the first true business trip this team will take this season.

“Going to Minnesota, It’s another challenge at hand,” safety Jake Schlager said. “It’s a good challenge. It is a road challenge for us since we are a younger football team and I think the first true road game will be an experience for us. It will be a good experience to get that under our belt.”

Peralta compared this opportunity against Minnesota to the 2014 season when the team went on the road against and ACC school and beat Boston College 24-21, and then won eight out of their last nine games to close out the year.

“I think it brings the team together as close as you ever get when you go to the different schools and compete at a high level against bigger teams, or against power-five conference teams,” Peralta said. “What we experienced in Boston College really brought us together and really set us on that journey to where we were going that season.”

If the Rams want to change some minds while making a statement and set themselves up on a path similar to that 2014 season, it all starts on Saturday.

It just can’t be the same kind of statement they made on ESPN week one.

Collegian sports reporter Eric Wolf can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Eric_Wolf5