The Weber State Wildcats had twice as many players drafted into the NFL last spring than CSU.
Although the score was only two players (Paul and Pat McQuistan) to one (David Anderson), Weber State still won – something that would shock the city of Fort Collins if it happened again Saturday when the two teams face off for the Rams’ first season-opener at home since 1997.
Saturday marks the second time the Wildcats and Rams will play each other, the first being a 31-7 CSU victory at home in 2003.
Weber State, picked sixth in the Big Sky Conference preseason coach’s poll, is one of 122 teams in NCAA Division I-AA football this season.
The difference between I-A and I-AA lies in the number of scholarships allotted for each team: 85 and 63 respectively.
Football is the only collegiate sport with a I-AA classification.
WSU owns a 3-36 record against NCAA Division I-A opponents, with two of the wins coming against Nevada in the early ’90s.
WSU’s most recent game against a Division I-A opponent was a 55-17 loss at Fresno State last season.
However, Head Coach Sonny Lubick is sure not to underestimate his opponent.
“If I could maybe equate it to something, it’d be like going into a chemistry test or history test,” he said. “You got to look at it with a pretty damn good attitude or you’ll flunk it.”
The coach Lubick will be matching up against is former Utah Head Coach Ron McBride.
McBride coached the Utes from 1990 to 2002 and recorded a 4-6 mark against the Rams.
“It will be nice to see him, I haven’t really seen him since he left Utah,” Lubick said. “I have a lot of respect for what he’s done as an assistant as well as a head coach.”
Further linking the two teams is the misfortune of losing a starting running back.
WSU senior running back Zach Hall was scheduled to be the Wildcats’ starting running back until he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon earlier this fall.
And, like CSU’s Kyle Bell, Hall will spend this season watching his team from the sideline.
Life without Bell will officially begin for CSU on Saturday. Junior quarterback Caleb Hanie said his presence will be missed.
“Without Kyle in there, I don’t want to say it changes the game plan, but it changes the feel of the game,” Hanie said.
Offensive coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt says he expects the Wildcat defense to be very aggressive.
“McBride’s style is a close defense that will get up in your receivers’ faces,” he said. “We’ve got to get the run game rolling and if it’s tight coverage, then we got to go over the top.”
Hanie also said he expects to see some fireworks out of the Rams passing game.
“I think we’ll definitely try to go deep,” he said.
Sean Star can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.