All thatâ€™s left to play for is pride.
After falling to the San Diego State Aztecs Saturday night, the CSU Rams (3-7, 2-4 MWC) were knocked from postseason consideration. With only two games remaining, the teamâ€™s focus now turns to its home finale against the Brigham Young Cougars (4-5, 3-2) this Saturday.
Coach Steve Fairchild said his team will approach the final two weeks no differently despite the certainty that the Rams will not be bowl eligible.
â€œWe will play the same way. Our approach throughout the week is always the same,â€ Fairchild said. â€œI think our kids and our coaches are very excited about the chance to go against BYU.â€
It will be the last time the Rams face the Cougars as Mountain West Conference opponents, as BYU will become a football independent beginning in the 2011 season. Fairchild expressed dissatisfaction with BYUâ€™s decision to leave the conference but said he looks forward to playing the Cougars one last time.
â€œIt seems like weâ€™ve been playing BYU forever around here,â€ Fairchild said. â€œI think itâ€™s a shame about what went on in the offseason, but thatâ€™s out of our control. It is one last time to play them, and I know our program is excited about the opportunity.â€
Quarterback Pete Thomas, who will be playing the Cougars for the first and last time on Saturday, said the offense will need to exhibit some balance in order to win its fourth game.
â€œEver since the Idaho game, I feel like weâ€™ve done some good things on offense,â€ Thomas said. â€œWeâ€™ve gotten balance in three games this year, in our three wins.â€
A CSU win Saturday would give the Rams a 4-1 record at home this season, with the lone blemish coming in early October against No. 3 Texas Christian. Meanwhile, the Cougars havenâ€™t won a game on the road all season, a trend the Rams would like to see continue for another week.
Senior linebacker Ricky Brewer wants to leave the CSU–BYU rivalry on top.
â€œItâ€™s added incentive that this is the last game against them,â€ Brewer said. â€œWe can make history. We want to beat them and beat them soundly.â€
In order to beat BYU, the Ramsâ€™ defense will have to do its best to bottle up junior running back J.J. Di Luigi, who can challenge teams with his running and pass catching ability.
In nine games, Di Luigi has led the team in rushing and receiving, gaining 681 yards and six touchdowns on the ground and another 362 and one score through the air.
Saturdayâ€™s kickoff is scheduled for noon and can be seen on The Mtn.
Assistant Sports Editor Joel Hafnor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.