Ahh, Utah, Utah, Utah.
Let’s not get into why our state is better than theirs (we have liquor stores, a professional football team, and baseball team, and hockey team, and more than one religion). It’s just Hate Utah Week. Or we could call it the Border War to our Left.
There’s a big game over there for our football team on Saturday at the University of Utah. The Rams are on the road for the sixth time this year, this being the first time in conference. The Utes ride a four-game losing streak into the game and would love nothing more than to break that against the team that kept them from second place last year.
Then five days later, CSU hosts defending league champ-BYU, which, like Utah, isn’t playing the way many predicted.
A short week, that’s for sure, but the Rams must knock off both these Utah teams to set up a big showdown with Air Force on Halloween. Not that we’re looking ahead, or anything.
But the volleyball team’s games against the Utah teams this weekend are even bigger.
BYU tonight, No. 16 Utah tomorrow. Annually, these are the two toughest Mountain West teams CSU plays, and always plays right after the other. For obvious reasons, the two schools travel together, so while the Rams face BYU tonight, Utah’s up north with Wyoming. They switch for Saturday night.
Coaches always say they won’t let their team look past a team and try to prepare for the better one they’ll face the game after. While that may all be well and true, the players aren’t oblivious.
The football team has two games before it sees Air Force, but players and coaches are lying if they tell you they haven’t noticed the Falcons’ impressive run so far. After their game Saturday, of course they’ll watch Air Force beat Notre Dame. What else is there to do in Utah?
And the volleyball team must beat BYU tonight to keep its league record unblemished going into the Utah game. But when you have the No. 16 team in the nation coming to town the next night, you’re not completely focused on the team in front of you. It happens.
So Utah is the only ranked Mountain West team, but its not even leading the Mountain West because CSU is. Winner of this match obviously has a leg up in the race for the Mountain West championship.
The Utes have one league loss already, to San Diego State. When CSU played SDSU earlier this year, it fell behind two games to none early on, then responded to win the next three and the match. The Rams haven’t been stopped yet.
But for you Ram volleyball faithful, the thought of a comeback like that stirs some pent-up emotions. In the MWC Championship match last year, it was CSU who jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. And it was Utah who then rattled off three straight wins to capture the title.
You could say CSU has revenge on its mind. But it will tell you it has BYU on its mind. At least tonight, anyway.
Regardless, big games with Utahans are all around this week. We already have a better state. This week will show who has the better school.