Rams refuse to overlook FCS opponent

Colin Barnard

Colorado State Football head coach Mike Bobo watches his team during the second quarter of the Rocky Mountain Showdown on Sept. 1, 2017. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

The Colorado State football team will look to rebound from last week’s loss to Colorado with a home matchup against Abilene Christian this Saturday.

As well as representing the school’s heritage with the annual Ag Day game, the matchup is the one and only instance that CSU will play a team belonging to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Though the FCS is a step below the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in which the Rams play, Abilene Christian may offer a tougher test than most schools of their caliber.

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The Wildcats welcome first-year head coach Adam Dorrel after his recording-breaking stretch at Northwest Missouri State. In his six years as a head coach, Dorrel won 76 of 84 games and three FCS Division II national championships. His .905 winning percentage is the highest mark of any active coach in college football.

CSU head coach Mike Bobo understands the importance of treating this like any other game.

“This is a tough football team who’s got a lot of skill on offense, got a quarterback who can run around and make plays, defense that’s very athletic,” Bobo said. “So we’re probably coaching as hard as we’ve coached all year for this week.”

In ACU’s week 1 loss to fellow Mountain West foe New Mexico, the Wildcats were competitive for the entire first half, entering the break trailing by a touchdown. Although the final score may not reflect it, Bobo was impressed with what he saw from ACU in the first game.

“They played New Mexico very well,” Bobo said. “They look athletic. They’re a spread offensive football team that likes to throw the ball around a lot.”

At the helm of the Wildcats’ offense is junior quarterback Dallas Sealey. Last year, the dual-threat quarterback threw for more than 2,700 yards and 19 touchdowns while adding 381 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

Surrounding him is a roster littered with FBS experience. Overall, the Wildcats have nine players who previously played for a FBS team. Five of those players played for a team in a Power Five conference. CSU senior defensive lineman Jakob Buys recognizes the athleticism and talent throughout the team.

“Their wide receivers are good, they’re quick,” Buys said. “I think they’re similar to what we just faced (against CU). Their running backs are fast, wide receivers are quick. I think it’s going to be a tough matchup for us.”

As a team that does not get the attention that Power Five schools do, Colorado State understands the fire that can come from being overlooked. It’s something that Bobo and company are keeping in mind heading into the matchup with ACU.

“We don’t like to be looked down on when people talk about us, and I think it’s the same with teams like Abilene Christian,” Bobo said. “Their talent level is just as good as ours…it’s going to be a tough football game for us.”

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After the matchup with ACU, the Rams will turn their attention to current No. 1 Alabama. With such a daunting task ahead of them, it could be easy to overlook this week’s matchup and begin preparing for the Crimson Tide.

However, Bobo refuses to let what lies ahead get in the way of preparing for this weekend.

A lot of times people think you’re going to change the game plan. It doesn’t matter our opponent, we’re going to game plan the same way,” Bobo said. “We have to get ready for this game. We can’t let what happened Friday night (against CU) or us playing the No. 1 team in the nation in two weeks affect anything. Our preparation needs to be on Abilene Christian and that’s what I expect and that’s what I think our players are going to know what I expect.”

Collegian sports editor Colin Barnard can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or Twitter @ColinBarnard_.