The Weekly Blitz twice in one week? Now that’s what I’m talking about.
Well, as I hope all of you know by now (and if you don’t you should quickly withdraw from the university), the Rocky Mountain Showdown, the annual football game between CSU and CU-Boulder is on Sunday.
This means that whether you’re down in Boulder, at your house or at the bars, there is going to be a lot of eating, drinking and cussing this weekend and everyone and their uncle is excited about it.
Because of this special event, I’m taking the Weekly Blitz in a different direction for this edition.
I know a thing or two about football rivalries. I graduated from a high school in a small Oklahoma town called Jenks. Our high school’s rivalry with Union is ranked by the Sporting News as the number one high school football rivalry in the United States.
It has a lot of official sponsors and even has to be played at the University of Tulsa because neither high school can house the 25,000 fans who want to attend. That’s saying something.
As a senior in 2005 before our big rivalry game, coined the “Backyard Bowl,” I wrote a little “motivational speech” on my personal blog directed to the players, telling them to disregard the fact that our three starting linebackers were injured and that Union was ranked nationally in the top ten.
Honestly, I did it just for fun and I didn’t expect anyone to really see it until one of our coaches apparently read it and printed it off and put it in every player’s locker. After Jenks came away with the victory, scoring the game winning touchdown with less than a minute left by burning one of the nation’s top cornerback recruits (University of Oklahoma’s Dom Franks), I had so many players come up to me just to say “thanks” for writing that blog and tell me what a big role it played in their victory.
For now, I am going to take off my reporter hat, put on my fan jersey, and try to recreate the mind set I was in four years ago.
Hold on, I need to prepare my deeper voice and step to my podium.
Ok, let’s kick this baby off right.
I don’t know about any of you, but I am sick of hearing on a daily basis from all of Buff nation how they’re going to kick Colorado State’s butt again this year; how CSU is inferior in every aspect of the game; how holding the game in Boulder is just another nail in the coffin, and that we, the entire CSU community, shouldn’t even bother to show up.
Sunday is our chance as fans, players and coaches, students and alumni, to show not only our disrespecting brothers in Boulder, but to the entire country, what it means to be a CSU Ram and why we are proud of it.
We didn’t go to CSU because CU wouldn’t accept us. We went to CSU because we made a choice. We wanted to go to the better school.
Now this game on Sunday isn’t going to be an easy one. We’re facing a talented opponent led by a head coach who guaranteed ten wins this season after only five a year ago. Those are high expectations. We could put a big dent in ol’ Dan Hawkins agenda with a victory this weekend.
I’m sick of the disrespect we’re getting, even after this team worked their tails off a year ago and made it to a bowl game and won when CU didn’t even become bowl eligible. Yes, we lost guys like Gartrell Johnson III, Kyle Bell and Kory Sperry, but in their place we have the overwhelming talent of John Mosure, Leonard Mason, Chris Nwoke, Lou Greenwood and Eric Peitz.
The defense lost middle linebacker Jeff Horinek? I’ll raise you Alex Williams with a touch of Chris Gipson.
I dare you to disrespect this team. I dare you to disrespect my school. We have a quarterback in Grant Stucker who was offered a chance to play football at the University of Colorado but made the conscious choice to play for the Rams. Sunday will be his chance to prove what he is made of and why this school, our school, is in no way inferior to CU.
If there is only one thing you take away from all of this, whether you’re at the game on the field, sitting in the stands or behind a television screen, remember this: You are a Ram, and something that I’ve realized is that being a Ram means being connected to everyone at this university in a unique way, something I didn’t know was possible until coming to school here.
Everyone in this community wants one thing on Sunday: a win. This town, this school, this community needs this. And if you think that just because you’re not a player you can’t contribute to a CSU win on Sunday, you’re wrong.
If you’re at the game, yell louder than you ever have. If you’re at home, say an extra prayer that everyone stays healthy. And if you’re on the field, just do what you know how to do: play football and play it well.
But whoever you are and however you contribute, do it with class. As a community, we have a tremendous amount of heart and when it comes to rivalry games, it’s the team who plays with more heart that comes out on top.
We’re all proud to be it, a CSU Ram.
Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at email@example.com.