Zahlmann: CSU football’s head coach has a lot riding on this showdown

Luke Zahlmann

Coach Mike Bobo, going into his fourth Rocky Mountain Showdown, has a lot riding on a victory, including the perception that he is unable to compete in rivalry games.

Consistent losses to the University of Colorado as well as Wyoming, Boise State, and even Air Force have left the coach with an ugly record of 2-10. As the sample size has grown, so has the moniker that his teams cannot win the big games.

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Bobo also understands that the pressure and noise can only be alleviated by victories in large matchups. The final score is the true example of a team.

“You put a lot into this game,” Bobo said. “It means a lot to our fan base and our alumni… obviously (a win) would help with momentum. You never know how one win is going to change a team.”

Last year only built on losses as the Rams went 0-4 in the rivalry matchups on their schedule, outscored by a good margin. The lopsided nature of the losses was made worse when the Rams played the Broncos in the confines of their newly-minted stadium and held one of their largest leads of the season.

The Rams went on to blow the lead, eventually losing the matchup 59-52 in overtime during the waning hours of the night. The home team was outscored 35-17 in the second half, allowing Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien to throw for 331 yards and four touchdowns. On top of the air attack, Alexander Mattison rushed 242 yards on only 23 carries with a trio of touchdowns.

The game was one of the glaring blemishes on the CSU football brand under the tutelage of Bobo and served as a catalyst for the firing of Marty English.

In search of a change, Bobo hired John Jancek to reform the defense in hopes of juxtaposed results this season. That decision, though questionable so far, is only in its infant stages.

In his first game at the helm of the defense, Jancek had a rough first showing.

Against Hawaii, the Rams had one of their worst showings in years. They allowed 617 total yards and only forced a single turnover. The total included a whopping 30 first downs.

The game proceeded a period where Bobo was forced to be away from the team for 10 days due to numbness in his feet, diagnosed as peripheral neuropathy after a hospital stay. The lengthy stay included a procedure that forced Bobo into a walking boot.

Despite the absence, Bobo refused to use his leave as an excuse.

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“It was unfortunate… there’s no opportune time for that,” Bobo said. “We still had chances to play well (against Hawaii). (My absence) does not cause us to hold.”

Bobo has chosen to avoid any excuses in his career at CSU and has stated multiple times leading up to the showdown that the talk of his lack of success in rivalry games is on him. He realizes the nature of a win-loss orientated job and embraces the results, positive or negative.

Health concerns have already caused Bobo to shift away from his usual routines, limiting the coaches’ ability to impact the team. Forced to coach from the press box, Bobo’s unintentional lack of health is not the only reason he should be given a break.

Recruiting and player motivation has been at a high level at all times under the former Georgia coordinator.

The Rams under Bobo are a better team for the present and the future, but another loss may tip the scales out of his favor in the eyes of those outside the program.

Collegian Sports Director Luke Zahlmann can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @lukezahlmann.