After dropping their previous two games, the CSU Rams (4-6, 2-4 MWC) are ready to get back on track this weekend for Senior Day as they host New Mexico (4-7, 2-5) in the final home game of the season.
The New Mexico Lobos come to Fort Collins touting the conference’s second best rushing offense, as well as the best pass defense in the MWC.
CSU head coach Steve Fairchild chimed in on New Mexico’s main rushing threat, senior Rodney Ferguson, who has never fumbled the ball in his career.
“He’s a tremendous player. He’s got good size, he can run and he is extremely productive,” Fairchild said. “We’re going to have to gang up and get him contained or otherwise it’ll be a long night. He’s had a tremendous career.”
The Rams lead the all-time series with New Mexico 31-23, but the past two meetings have been tough for CSU, as the Lobos have kicked game-winning field goals in both contests. But unlike the previous two meetings, this game means more than just trying to win on Senior Day.
CSU is trying to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2005 and to do that they will have to win on Saturday as well as next week at Wyoming.
Senior kicker Jason Smith said he would love to get the chance to knock off New Mexico the same way they’ve defeated CSU the previous two seasons.
“It would be awesome,” said the senior from Centennial. “I haven’t yet had the opportunity to try for a game winner. I’ve had a few that were late in the game that put them out of reach, but it’d be fun. It’s the kind of thing that as a kicker, you prepare for that forever.”
The lone game-winning field goal CSU kicked this year was by freshman kicker Ben Deline against Sacramento State while Smith was injured.
The Rams bowl hopes seem to be embraced by the entire team, but New Mexico will be trying to play spoiler in their final game of the season. This season is the first since 2000 that the Lobos have not won six games.
Senior linebacker John Clark said the Rams are just taking it one game at a time.
“I like our chances,” said Clark, who has 15 tackles and a forced fumble on the season. “You always hear the old cliché, ‘you take it one game at a time,’ but I think that’s what this team is doing. You hear a couple of guys talk here or there about going to a bowl game, and I think it’s on everyone’s mind, and it’s everyone’s goal, but then again, the biggest game of the season is this weekend.”
Kickoff is set for noon and will be televised on The Mtn. Fans can receive buy-one-get-one-free tickets at the McGraw Athletic Center box office if they bring a can of Mountain Dew by closing time today.
Football beat reporter Matt Stephens can be reached at email@example.com.