Fans in attendance of the Colorado State-Utah game Saturday at Hughes Stadium will get their first peek at the newest CAM the Ram live mascot. This latest CAM was supposed to replace the aging CAM and make his debut Thursday night at the CSU-Air Force game. However, when the handlers went to pick up the new one prior to the game, they discovered that someone had painted him bright red from head to toe. So the old CAM, who has been limited in running around the field this year, had one more swan song Thursday. Look for the newer, younger CAM at Homecoming Saturday. There is no word on who was responsible for painting the mascot.
CSU punter Jimmie Kaylor is the first Ram player in 2005 to receive Mountain West Conference player of the week honors after averaging a season-best 47.0 yards on three punts in the 41-23 win over Air Force. What makes this selection interesting is that it almost appears that conference officials made the selection to appease CSU after running back Kyle Bell was snubbed for the offensive player of the week award for the second straight week. Bell followed up his 183-yard performance (and one touchdown) vs. Nevada with a 197-yard romp (and three touchdowns) vs. rival Air Force Thursday. Yet, he was overlooked in favor of BYU's John Beck (30 of 51 for 517 yards and five touchdowns in a loss to TCU) and Jeff Ballard (16 of 28 for 192 yards and six total touchdowns in a win over New Mexico).
Bell's two-game stretch of 385 yards rushing and four touchdowns has given Colorado State new life on offense and has harkened fans back to the days when a formidable running attack was a Ram staple in the late 1990s and early 2000 under Sonny Lubick. However, to find a running back in CSU history who carried the ball more than Bell's 65 attempts in the past two games, one would have to look all the way back to 1984 when Steve Bartalo collected the school record of 71 rushes in back-to-back games (36 vs. Hawaii and 35 vs. New Mexico). Bell is now second on the list. The more rushes the better for CSU: In Lubick's tenure, the Rams are 83-27 games when attempting less than 35 passes and just 8-22 in games where the team has attempted 35 or more passes.
Bell's performance (he is the Mountain West Conference's leading rusher and is 11th in the country) is an indicator that the offensive line is vastly improved over the unit of the past couple of years. Another indicator is that this year's line has yielded just three sacks for -14 yards in four games. By comparison, at this point last year, the line had had given up 10 sacks for 93 yards. On the other side of the line, CSU seven quarterback sacks so far. In 2004, the Rams did not record the team's seventh sack until the sixth game of the season at San Diego State.
In recent years, CSU had averaged 10 televised games per season, whether it was national, regional, or local television. But, after a 4-7 season, that trend may be declining. Amazingly, ESPN Regional (ERT) has declined to pick up this week's CSU-Utah game, opting instead for UNLV-San Diego State, two bottom-of-the-barrel conference teams. ERT has various reasons for doing so, including an obligation to televise each conference team at least once, but for this week's matchups, the decision was peculiar. CSU officials were also notified this morning that neither ABC nor ERT will be picking up next week's (October 15) game at BYU. Therefore, BYU officials have set an 8 p.m. kickoff time for the game, which will be televised by their institutional partner, SportsWest. The game has also been offered to Fox Sports Rocky Mountain, which it appears favorable that they will pick up the game. Under MWC guidelines, the game can be shown via cable in the Denver market (which includes Fort Collins), but not outside the Denver Metro Area, meaning viewers in Colorado Springs, Pueblo, or anywhere else out of state, will not see the game on Fox Sports Rocky Mountain. They will also not be able to pick it up via satellite outside the Denver area. Anybody else ready for CSTV? By the way, CSU officials will know by next Monday (October 10) whether or not ERT/ABC will pick up the October 22 Border War game vs. Wyoming. The game will either be 1 p.m. on ERT, or 5 p.m. on ABC.
CSU's “Sellout Saturday” campaign is going well, with less than 4,000 tickets remaining for this weekend's game vs. defending MWC champ Utah. CSU sold approximately 500 tickets online over the weekend. Call 800-491-RAMS or visit csurams.com to order tickets. Meanwhile, CSU officials don't yet have an exact count of season tickets sold this year, but it sounds as though the number will be under 10,000, which is far shy of their goal of around 12,000, and not any better than their numbers from 2004.
The Utes certainly aren't the team of 2004. They lost their second game of the season Saturday falling 31-17 at North Carolina. More troubling for the Utes is that after a 2004 dream season of precise detail and execution, this year's team is plagued with sloppy play, turnovers, and penalties. Against the Tar Heels, the Utes had five turnovers and 12 penalties for 101 yards. In the first four games of the season, they compiled seven turnovers and 23 penalties for 194 yards.
Former University of Colorado quarterback Charles Johnson will host a new half-hour roundtable program called “Fox Sports Net Live at the Barbershop” each Thursday night at 9:30, beginning this week. Former CSU quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt will be Johnson's first guest.
In case you missed it last week, the MWC signed a deal with the Fort Worth Bowl that begins with the 2006 football season and runs through 2009. The conference also has a contingency plan that could also send a team there this season to face a Conference USA team if the Big 12 doesn't have a qualifying team. This year's game is set for 7 p.m. (CST) December 23 and will be broadcast on ESPN at TCU's Amon Carter Stadium. Next year, the MWC will send its fourth-place team to play a team from CUSA. Interestingly, in 2007 only, the bowl has an agreement that would allow the MWC to face the Pac-10's sixth-place team. With this recent announcement, the MWC's bowl alignments for 2006 will be: No. 1 selection to the Las Vegas Bowl, No. 2 selection to the Poinsettia Bowl, and No. 3 selection to the Fort Worth Bowl. This year's alignments are the same, except the Emerald Bowl slides into the No. 2 selection and the other bowls descend from there. There's still a slim chance the Liberty Bowl could wind up with an MWC team this year, but that would be the final time, as Liberty Bowl officials recently announced an SEC-CUSA matchup starting in 2006.
The deadline is approaching to reserve your spot for the Sonny Lubick luncheon Thursday, October 13 at Brauns Bar & Grill in downtown Denver (by the Pepsi Center) from 11:30 to 1:00. The cost is $25 per person or $200 for a table of 8. Please RSVP to Karrie Butler (at 970-491-4666) by Wednesday. RamNation will be getting a table, and we've only got a few spots taken so far, so if you're interested in sitting at our table, please email us to reserve your seat.
Don't forget that RamNation sponsor Chevalier Jewelers is sponsoring the RamNation tailgate party this Saturday prior to the Homecoming football game vs. defending MWC champ Utah. Chevalier will provide complimentary sub sandwiches, chips, soft drinks. So, make sure to stop by Tailgate Spot No. 12, and always remember to support our sponsors!
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