For 16 young men, Saturday will be the last time that they don the golden horns to represent the Colorado State football team at Hughes Stadium.
Saturdayâ€™s game against Brigham Young will represent the conclusion of an up-and-down career for a senior class that has been a part of two double-digit losing streaks, as well as an exhilarating bowl victory in 2008.
It will also represent the end of a longstanding history of matchups between CSU and BYU. The two teams first met in 1922, and Saturday is the last time in the foreseeable future that the teams will play, as BYU will become a football independent in 2011.
The Rams (3-7, 2-4 MWC) are hoping to make BYUâ€™s last trip to Fort Collins a tough one.
â€œItâ€™s the last time these two teams are going to play each other,â€ said senior fullback Zac Pauga. â€œWe definitely want their last game at Hughes to be a loss.â€
There are some similarities between the two teams, most notably is the fact that both teams start a true freshman at quarterback.
Pete Thomas has started every game for the Rams, compiling 2,273 yards and 10 touchdowns along the way.
Jake Heaps has taken over the reins for the Cougars (4-5, 3-2) after they rotated quarterbacks early in the season. Heaps has thrown for 1,351 yards and seems to be gaining more comfort in the offense.
â€œHeâ€™s getting more comfortable throwing the ball,and theyâ€™re starting to throw the ball more because of his capabilities,â€ said defensive tackle Guy Miller. â€œHeâ€™s taken on more of a leadership role.â€
Coach Steve Fairchild agrees that Heaps has talent that gives BYU the potential to run an impressive attack.
â€œHeâ€™s got a big, strong arm. Heâ€™ll make every throw. He gives them deep ball capabilities,â€ Fairchild said.
Though it will be only the third time all season true freshman quarterbacks have faced off, Saturdayâ€™s game is all about Senior Day.
The seniors are eager to win their final home game and help the program carry some positive momentum into the offseason.
For some members of the graduating class, it is hard to fathom that this is the final home game in their college career.
â€œIt hasnâ€™t even hit me yet that this is the last home game,â€ Pauga said. â€œBut Iâ€™m sure come game time it will hit me.â€
Fairchild has seen high intensity this week in practice, a testament, he says, to the team wanting to send the seniors out in the right way.
â€œI think everybody has a lot of respect for these seniors,â€ Fairchild said. â€œIt sure would be a good way to send them out with a big win Saturday.â€
CSU players and coaches decided they would wear their orange throwback jerseys for Saturdayâ€™s game against BYU for Senior Day. CSU also wore the orange jerseys in this yearâ€™s Ag Day home-opener against Idaho.
Saturdayâ€™s game begins at noon and can be seen on The Mtn.
Seniors, what will you miss the most?
Eric Peitz, tight end: â€œThe players. Interaction with the players. You wonâ€™t find it anywhere else, the camaraderie and the friendship you get.
Guy Miller, nose tackle: â€œJust being around the team all the time. Itâ€™s fun to hang out in the locker room every day, just being a part of something.â€
Ricky Brewer, outside linebacker: â€œComing out of the tunnel, looking over at the student section. When that thing is packed itâ€™s an exciting feeling, it makes the hair on your neck stand up.â€
Zac Pauga, fullback: â€œAll the other players. Theyâ€™re my family, my brothers. Iâ€™ve grown up with these guys and I love all of them.â€
Sports reporter Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.