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
“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.”
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
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
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
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
“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.”