The CSU football teamâ€™s conference schedule could not start any tougher as they play host to No. 5 Texas Christian University Saturday at Hughes Stadium.
Experts say the Rams donâ€™t stand a chance.
TCU comes to Fort Collins with a top 10 running attack, a Davey Oâ€™Brian watch list player in senior Andy Dalton for best quarterback in the country and a defense ranked 18th in the country with 11 team sacks.
None of those facts are enough to convince CSUâ€™s coaches or players that this game is out of reach.
â€œIf we step out on the field and we donâ€™t believe we can win the game, then itâ€™s already taken care of,â€ said defensive captain Ricky Brewer. â€œSo of course we have to have the confidence to go out there and get it.â€
Any thoughts of an upset are based on a good week of practice, something the players feel has been accomplished following their first win in over a year.
The Rams approach the game with TCU as they would before any other game, but going into battle with a national title contender requires performing at a near-flawless level.
Junior wide receiver Matt Yemm and the offense have made paying attention to the details a priority.
â€œYou want to go as hard as you can every week, but you maybe go a little bit harder, be a little more disciplined, you know? Routes have to be perfect; blocking has to be perfect,â€ Yemm said. â€œEverything has to be perfect if youâ€™re going to beat these guys, so just focus on the little details.â€
Emotions are high for a matchup that could potentially turn the season around after a disappointing start.
â€œI think weâ€™re confident. Everybody feels we took a step forward last week,â€ said CSU coach Steve Fairchild. â€œYou got a ranked team coming here.
This is where you want to be. Weâ€™ve been a ranked team before, and now we have one coming here.â€
An offense that suddenly awakened last week is anxious to show they can sustain their production against a top defensive team.
â€œWeâ€™re really excited to have the opportunity to go against such a prominent defense in the country. Everyone knows that theyâ€™re tough,â€ Yemm said. â€œAnd for the opportunity to get an upset and try to build off some of the momentum we got last week.â€
True-freshman quarterback Pete Thomas will face the best team he has ever seen in only his fifth collegiate start.
â€œItâ€™s going to be a big game, not only for me but the whole team, the whole community. So hopefully we can have a good showing out there,â€ Thomas said.
While the odds are stacked against the Rams, home field advantage can never be ruled out in college football.
â€œTheyâ€™re coming to our house, so thatâ€™s the first thing on our side,â€ Brewer said. â€œOf course we have a great student section, so thatâ€™s another thing on our side. If we can get that stadium loud and rocking, I think we have a great chance, believe it or not.â€
Football Beat Reporter Cris Tiller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.