Itâ€™s usually thought of as a game that comes after a very emotional game and is followed by another marquee game.
And thatâ€™s exactly how Saturdayâ€™s game against San Jose State sets up to be for the CSU football team.
The Rams (3-1) are coming off an emotional comeback, double-overtime win over Utah State and are facing what on paper appears to be an overmatched opponent.
SJSU is 1-3 on the season, giving up 31 points per game while only scoring 17.
And with a bye week for CSU followed by No. 4 Boise State visiting Fort Collins, the Rams must keep focus to prevent a loss that would steal all momentum that has been gained with early season success.
â€œWhat we do usually is when we win we take Saturday to Sunday,â€ safety Ivory Herd said. â€œThen thatâ€™s it. Put it behind us and get ready for the next game.â€
Coach Steve Fairchild has felt that in the past two years (both 3-9 seasons) his teams havenâ€™t done a good enough job of moving on from the past week, win or lose.
Early returns on the 2011 season have encouraged him that that has changed.
â€œWe were able to move past the CU game and get a win,â€ Fairchild said. â€œNow itâ€™d be nice to get another one. If you can get two or three and then have a setback and then win two of three, at the end of the year thatâ€™s where you want to be.â€
The Rams returned to the practice field on Tuesday to start preparing for SJSU. There was less hitting than most practices, but an upbeat atmosphere was prevalent throughout the drills.
â€œTheyâ€™ve obviously suffered losses,â€ Herd said of SJSU. â€œBut theyâ€™re close losses. Taking a team like that for granted, you canâ€™t do that. We see that, so thatâ€™s why we normally prepare for every week and weâ€™re going to take this game like weâ€™re playing the best team in the nation.â€
Fairchild knows that the records of the two teams could easily be drastically different.
If New Mexico had been able to score late in week one from inside the CSU red zone and if Utah State hadnâ€™t muffed a late punt, the Rams could easily be 1-3.
Likewise, SJSUâ€™s record could easily be flipped after they lost games against UCLA and Nevada in the fourth quarter.
Fairchild knows that while his team is improved, there is still no room for a poor performance.
â€œI think our veteran players are smart enough to know this game we canâ€™t just show up,â€ Fairchild said. â€œIn fact weâ€™ll have a hard time this year unless we improve each time we go out and practice.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.