|CSU vs SDSU Photo Slideshow|
Starting slow and ending hot is the style the Rams have employed when playing their Mountain West Conference competitors in 2005. Until Saturday that type of play was efficient enough to give the Rams a shot at finishing second in the MWC.
SDSU proved to be too tough for a miraculous Ram comeback, as they outplayed CSU to take a 30-10 victory at Hughes Stadium Saturday.
A crowd of 25,411 watched as the Rams could muster only 89 total yards offensively in the first half, while senior quarterback Justin Holland completed just nine of 16 passes for 45 yards. Down 20-3 at halftime, the Rams we're booed into the locker room, then welcomed back for the second half by what seemed like 15,000 fewer Ram fans.
The Rams poor play mixed with an increasingly freezing wind contributed to thousands of Ram fans splitting early.
Slow starts have been an issue the Rams (5-5 overall, 4-3 in the Mountain West) have tried to address. As evident against the Aztecs (4-6, 3-4), nothing has worked.
"We can't depend on a comeback win every time," said senior tight end Matt Bartz. "That's just not the way football is played. We've had some real good things happen to us this year, some miraculous victories, but I'd much rather win by four touchdowns going away."
Early personal fouls by the Rams allowed the Aztecs to keep a drive alive, which led to the game's opening score. The Aztecs went on to dominate the Rams, especially the CSU passing attack, most of the game.
The Rams came out in the third quarter riding sophomore running back Kyle Bell. Bell, along with a few Holland-to-David Anderson connections, brought the Rams back to within 10 of the Aztecs. The Rams missed two opportunities to tie the Aztecs when freshman place kicker Jason Smith missed a 26-yard field goal and junior cornerback Robert Herbert dropped an interception he could have scored on.
Missed opportunities and inconsistencies on offense made it too difficult for the Rams to complete another second half comeback.
"We haven't been as consistent as we'd like," said head coach Sonny Lubick. "We got some touchdowns early in the year on long passes, but as a coach you'd like to see that consistency. It hasn't been there."
"Today's not the day I'm going to look back on for fond memories, but it was part of my whole career," Holland said. "I enjoyed my time here and I love this stadium, but we just didn't win today."
The Rams still have a shot to become bowl eligible with a win at UNLV Saturday. Even if the Rams can pull off their sixth victory of the season against the Rebels there's no guarantee the Rams will be chosen for a bowl since BYU and UNM became bowl eligible with wins Saturday.
Ram fans will want to root for BYU to beat Utah this weekend, because if the Utes win they will also be bowl eligible. If both the Rams and Utes win there will be two teams fighting for one bowl birth.