Nov 032002
Authors: Reed Saunders

Ten games into the season, the CSU Rams are right where they want to be.

CSU is perfect in conference play (4-0), the only Mountain West team to hold that distinction, and controls its own destiny on the road to what would be their second Mountain West title in three years.

If the Rams win their remaining three games, not only would they earn a berth in the Liberty Bowl Dec. 31 as conference champions, they would also do something never before accomplished in the school history: go undefeated in conference play.

Dating back to the days when CSU had no conference affiliation, no

Ram team has ever finished a season with zero conference defeats.

“I don’t think that’s on our minds just yet,” said Joey Cuppari, CSU’s senior wide receiver, following a 31-12 victory over Air Force. “We can’t really afford to leap ahead like that and start thinking three games down the road. It’d be a great honor and an awesome accomplishment for this group of guys, but we have a lot of work yet to do and we all realize it.”

The Rams won’t have to begin work for a little while. They have a well-deserved off week this week, their second of the season, before traveling to face San Diego State on Nov. 16.

The Aztecs (3-6, 3-1 MWC) are the only real challengers left in CSU’s quest for the conference title. Should the Aztecs win Saturday at New Mexico, San Diego State will have a 4-1 conference record and a shot at the conference crown if they beat CSU.

CSU has no intentions of giving up a shot at the conference title without a fight.

“We’ve said all along that winning the conference was our top priority,” head coach Sonny Lubick said after the Air Force game. “So far we’ve played like it. I’ve been impressed with how our team has shown up the past couple of weeks. But San Diego State is playing very well. We’ll rest up this week and then have to rise up to the occasion next week.”

San Diego State was 3-0 in conference going into last weekend, where the Aztecs looked bad from start to finish in losing to BYU in Provo, 34-10.

Losing at New Mexico on Saturday in Albuquerque would not only dash the Aztecs’ title aspirations, but would also make them ineligible for a postseason bowl berth.

San Diego State isn’t the only Ram opponent remaining with a bowl berth hanging in the balance. If either New Mexico (4-5, 2-1 MWC) or UNLV (4-5, 2-2) loses more than one of their remaining games, their bowl dreams will be dashed as well.

“That’s something we have to be careful of because those teams are hungry to get to a bowl,” Lubick said. “We haven’t had a problem taking teams seriously thus far in the season though and I doubt we’ll start taking any opponent lightly now.”

Quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt echoed his coach’s feelings. “We’ve got three tough opponents to go out there, and we can’t overlook anyone,” said Van Pelt following the Rams’ victory over Air Force. “Right now we’re riding high, we’re going to go into our bye week, get some rest in our bones and just take on our next three opponents one at a time.”

-Edited by Jon Ackerman and Josh Hardin

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