Oct 022003
 
Authors: Joelle Milholm

It has been five years since CSU left the Western Athletic

Conference to join forces with eight other teams to form the

Mountain West Conference.

Many of those old conference foes have not faced the Rams since

and the rivalries have been long forgotten, except for one with

Fresno State.

“We have played them the last two years and it still feels like

a conference game,” quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt said. “Fresno

State has been a rivalry because we have similar teams and we are

both fighting for national recognition. Out of any California team,

this is our rival.”

Similarities

The parallels between the programs are a major reason why good

football games happen when the teams meet.

Both are looking for national recognition, but will only get it

with years of success.

Both are in mid-major conferences that can’t compare to

super-powers like the Big 12.

Both are overshadowed in their own states by bigger, more known

teams like Colorado and UCLA.

Colorado State-Fresno State games still contain just as much

emotion and intensity even though they are non-conference

games.

When Van Pelt was asked if this week’s game means more than the

average non-conference game he replied, “Of course it does.”

Roots of the rivalry

Fresno State first played Colorado State in 1940 and won

28-0.

The rivalry got its start over 50 years later when the teams

faced each other again in 1992. Meetings between the two became a

common event until 1997 and Colorado State won four out of the five

games.

Although that was the last year they would see each other in

conference action, it was not the last year of intense, gridiron

battles. The Bulldogs have won the last three games, including a

27-24 overtime victory in 2001.

Revenge on Rams’ minds

Last year on Oct. 4 (the same day the teams meet this year),

Fresno State once again edged out Colorado State 34-32.

The Rams made a 16-point second-half comeback, but were stopped

short when they failed to score on a two-point conversion attempt

in front of 38,336 people at Bulldog Stadium and a national

audience on ESPN2.

“Both of the last meetings were good games, but we came out on

the short side of the stick,” Van Pelt said. “We want to get

revenge, especially since this is my last shot at them.”

No matter how big the rivalry gets, there is still a mutual

respect between the teams.

“When I got here in 1997 after they beat us 41-3, my statement

was I hope someday we can look like that football team,” Fresno

State head coach Pat Hill said in a press release. “I thought

Colorado State was the ship to follow and we have tried to pattern

ourselves after them.”

Four of the nine CSU-Fresno games have been decided by fewer

than four points and another close game is expected this year.

“Fresno State has another good football team,” Colorado State

head coach Sonny Lubick said. “Their only two losses were to top 10

teams (Tennessee and Oklahoma).”

Fresno State is not looking at Colorado State’s 2-3 record as an

indicator of how good this years squad is. History has proven that

the Rams show up to play against the Bulldogs, and Fresno State

knows it.

“The last two games with Colorado State have been big time

football games,” Hill said. “I expect we’ll see Colorado State’s

best performance of the year. We are going to have to go in there

and play very, very well to win this game.”

 

 

 

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