The CSU football team insists that it didn’t overlook the Idaho Vandals.
But the Rams (3-2, 0-1) returned from Idaho with the nasty taste of a 31-29 loss in their mouths and staring into the face of a more daunting schedule –/east, non-conference games a thing of the past.
The Rams face the two remaining “top three” of the Mountain West Conference in back-to-back weeks beginning with Utah for homecoming this weekend and No. 10 TCU the next.
“With Utah and TCU coming up, we’ve got to be ready,” senior cornerback Nick Oppenneer said.
Sandwiched between games against BYU and Utah, the contest against Idaho (4-1, 1-0 WAC) may have proved to be a classic trap game.
“We weren’t looking ahead,” head coach Steve Fairchild said.
The Idaho game made for two straight losses for the Rams and with the tough schedule ahead, the 3-0 start the team started the season with may become a distant memory.
“Four-and-one would have sounded amazing,” Oppenneer said.
The offense had another strong effort Saturday, producing 436 total yards and jumping out to a 20-10 lead at halftime, but the Rams let go of too many points.
Sophomore kicker Ben Deline had an extra point blocked and missed a 50-yard field goal attempt. Running back John Mosure was stuffed at the goal line on a two-point conversion try late in the game and senior receiver Rashaun Greer dropped a would-be touchdown pass.
“It’s hard to be perfect, but that’s what you strive for,” Quarterback Grant Stucker said.
Stucker continued his strong play as of late, passing for 297 yards and four touchdowns, but threw one interception in the final minute of the game, which sealed the victory for the Vandals.
Although the offense has made great strides in past weeks and the defense is finding its depth, particularly at linebacker, Fairchild said CSU needs to improve if the team plans on competing in the top-heavy MWC.
“We are a long way from being the type of football team CSU wants to have,” he said.
With two losses in a row, the Rams plan on improving in all facets of the game to avoid spinning into a losing tailspin.
“I have to get us playing better,” Fairchild said.
Football beat reporter Stephen Meyers can be reached at email@example.com.