After a two-year hiatus, the real Rocky Mountain Showdown is back.
The state’s biggest college rivalry returns to Invesco Field at Mile High after the last two games in Boulder were decided by a total of six points.
“We’ve played well the last two years, we’ve had some good battles. I think (the players) are fired up,” said offensive coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt about Saturday’s game. “They love that venue. I think it’s good for the state, good for everybody.”
The team has good reason to be excited about the game’s venue, posting an even 3-3 record against Colorado-Boulder in Denver.
Head Coach Sonny Lubick was discontented with the switch to Boulder the last two years.
“I don’t know how they could screw that up,” the coach said.
Lubick added there is more money to be had for both teams when the game is played in Denver.
After winning the Mountain West Conference and playing in a bowl game, beating CU ranks as the Rams’ top priority.
When asked what a win against CU this weekend would mean, junior wide receiver George Hill responded, “Man, I don’t even know. It would mean so much.”
The teams opened the season last week in completely opposite ways.
While Lubick said he paid no attention to CU’s loss to Montana State on Saturday, he did admit there could have been a worse scenario for the Rams heading into arguably the season’s biggest game.
“At least they didn’t win by 50, that would have scared me,” Lubick said.
With a win, CU could possibly salvage what has been so far a horrible start to the Dan Hawkins era in Boulder.
With a loss, CU is headed straight toward a disastrous season.
Lubick said he is fairly familiar with Hawkins and his system.
“I’ve always followed Boise State because of course I’m a Montana guy,” Lubick said.
Saturday is also a chance for the Rams to prove themselves against a team not named Weber State.
The Showdown is notorious for posting big scores from both teams. If the Rams plan to do so, they must improve on what was a less than impressive showing from the running game last week.
Sophomore Gartrell Johnson III will get his second career start, with sophomore Michael Myers and senior Nnamdi Ohaeri figuring to get carries also.
Hammerschmidt said Ohaeri, the team’s leading rusher, has transitioned back to offense well.
Lubick added Ohaeri is certainly capable of handling the transition.
“One thing about Nnamdi, we can assume he’s got good intelligence; he got into UCLA.”
However, the running back can only do so much without production from the offensive line.
“We don’t care who’s running the ball,” said offensive line coach Darrell Funk. “The way I look at it, it’s all on us.”
Players were not available for comment after practice Thursday for the second consecutive day.
To catch the game, tune into College Sports Television or the Outdoor Life Network at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Staff writer Sean Star can be reached at email@example.com.