Rams motivated to secure bragging rights against Air Force

Justin Michael

Colorado State football returns home Saturday for an in-state matchup with Mountain West foe Air Force. Led by head coach Troy Calhoun, the ten-year leader of the Falcons, Air Force comes into the game having won two of the last three matchups in the series. 

Michael Gallup hauls in a touchdown reception from quarterback Nick Stevens against the University of Nevada on Oct. 14, 2017. (Tony Villalobos May | Collegian)
Michael Gallup hauls in a touchdown reception from quarterback Nick Stevens against the University of Nevada on Oct. 14, 2017. (Tony Villalobos May | Collegian)

Overall, the home team has won the last five games in the interstate matchup, but the Falcons lead the all-time series 33-21-1 and hold a 22-15 series lead since the Ram-Falcon trophy was introduced in 1980.

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The trophy is traced back to former CSU ROTC commander Shelly Godkin and goes to the winning team each year. After watching the Falcons take the trophy following a 45-42 victory in 2016, senior quarterback Nick Stevens would like to see it stay in Fort Collins this season.

“It’s especially tough when you have it and they come over to your sideline to take it away,” Stevens said.

Along with looking to secure the Ram-Falcon trophy, CSU is looking to establish dominance over their conference rival and lock down bragging rights for the next year.

“It’s not about revenge or anything like that but we should have won that game last year,” senior wide receiver Michael Gallup said.

Gallup explained that despite putting up a gaudy 13-catch performance for 213 receiving yards, he places a lot of the blame of last year’s loss on himself for fumbling on the final play of the game. That being said, the conference’s leading receiver also acknowledged that 2017 is a new year and a new chance for the Rams to prove they are the team to beat in the Mountain Division.

“Air Force is a tough opponent,” Gallup said. “They think that they are harder than everybody else because they are in the Air Force Academy, so they do a bunch of stuff before we are even up. I mean they just think they can play football better than we can, but they can’t so we need to go out and prove it.”

Junior running back Izzy Matthews added that the Air Force rivalry is one of his favorite series’ to play in. As a physical runner, Matthews embraces that the game is typically incredibly gritty and looks forward to the smash-mouth, 1980’s style football. 

Colorado State Running Back Izzy Matthews runs towards the end zone during the third quarter of action in Albuquerque against the University of New Mexico. The Rams defeated the Lobos 27-24 to become bowl eligible. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)
Running back Izzy Matthews runs towards the end zone during the third quarter of action in Albuquerque against the University of New Mexico. The Rams defeated the Lobos 27-24 to become bowl eligible.
(Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

“It’s going to be a grind of a game, not air it out with long touchdowns for them and for us,” Matthews said. “It’s going to be four to five yards a pop, real old school and honestly that is the kind of back I am, so I think that is why I enjoy this game the most.”

After scoring a touchdown in last week’s victory over the Lobos, Matthews has found the end zone in each of CSU’s four conference games this season. Dating back to last season, Matthews has scored a rushing touchdown in 11 straight conference matchups.

In his career against the Falcons, Matthews has totalled 18 attempts for 68 yards and one touchdown. His partner in the backfield, senior running back Dalyn Dawkins, has also faired well against the Academy in his career. In 2016, Dawkins finished the loss with 14 carries for 103 yards.

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Dawkins currently ranks ninth all-time in career rushing yards with 2,541. The third-year starter needs 41 yards to pass Oscar Reed (1965-1967) to move into the next spot.

The Air Force game will kickoff at 1 p.m. Saturday in the on-campus stadium. CSU is 3-0 at home in 2017 and the Rams have won 19 of their last 23 games in Fort Collins dating back to Nov. 14, 2015.

Collegian sports director Justin Michael can be reached by email at jmichael@collegian.com or Twitter @JustinTMichael.