Zahlmann: The Rams now have a chance to turn their season around

Luke Zahlmann

The Colorado State football team that trotted onto the field against the University of Arkansas was different.

Whether it was the defense keeping the game manageable, or the offense coming through in late-game situations to capitalize on their stops or even the blessing of God as suggested by coach Mike Bobo following the game, the team was different.

Ad

Once down 27-9, the Rams came all the way back, scoring 25 unanswered points and showing signs of the team that many anticipated would take the field this season.

The defense still faltered at times, allowing chunk plays that had the Razorbacks driving down the field quickly while the running game was only able to churn out 40 rushing yards in the entire game, tilting the time of possession in the visitors’ favor. 

But the team survived.

The offensive line, after struggling to keep K.J. Carta-Samuels clean for much of the first half, tightened up, while redshirt junior Preston Williams made multiple plays that swung the entire game on its head.

Williams finished with 12 catches for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the contest with game-high totals across the board in receiving. 

Preston Williams catches a touchdown
Preston Williams catches a touchdown during CSUs second half comeback against the Arkansas Razorbacks. (Joe Oakman | Collegian)

A former five-star recruit, Williams shined in his national appearance against the SEC foe. With the press box featuring several scouts, as well as former Broncos’ safety Steve Atwater and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in attendance, Williams put himself on the map. 

Former Washington transfer Carta-Samuels once again made his case to lead the Rams. In a game that featured the best and worst of the signal caller, he came out of the contest with nearly 400 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The offense came together and showed flashes of the unit that nearly came back against the University of Hawaii two weeks ago. 

As the game ticked on, the momentum swung in the Rams’ favor, creating an atmosphere of inevitability to the comeback victory.

The entire crowd, or what was left of it, was on their feet as the Arkansas fans wavered, with their cheers becoming inaudible for much of the latter portion of the game.

Ad

After a loss in the Rocky Mountain Showdown where the Rams were embarrassed in front of their largest crowd of the season and a home-opening loss to the Rainbow Warriors, the Rams’ season was hanging in the balance.

A loss against Arkansas, with a trip to Florida looming, would have sunk the Rams’ hopes of having another bowl-worthy season. Heading into the meat of their conference schedule at a 0-3 mark, with a fourth loss likely, the Rams would have been forced to kiss their season goodbye.

Adversity aside, CSU went from being the laughing stock of the nation, with a featured spot in the ESPN Bottom-10 list, to a team that can compete, even if it is only for a week.

Going forward, the Rams appear to have the confidence to turn their belief in themselves into reality. With the school’s first home win over an SEC opponent in their history, the Rams gave themselves a chance to reset.

If nothing else, CSU heads to Gainesville, Florida with a little bit of momentum, something that would have been non-existent had their week following the Showdown not been productive. With several players calling each other out indirectly for a lack of mental toughness, CSU abruptly changed course Saturday night.

The next step is turning their single win into a streak, with the opportunity coming Sept. 15 against the Gators. 

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