It's now only two days until Colorado State hosts No. 5 TCU and I am getting giddy as a school girl thinking about it, just examining every angle the Rams could take to possibly knock off the Horned Frogs. It would be the biggest upset CSU has ever pulled. And while it's not likely, you should never count out the Rams.
Below I give my top five keys to victory for CSU, some of which involve you the fan.
5. Keep the ground game rolling.
While CSU by no means had a phenomenal game running the football last week against Idaho, the Rams' 108 yards on the ground was its best on the season, thanks in large part to the changes made in the offensive line's personnel. CSU has to keep running the ball well as defending the rushing attack is the area the TCU defense isn't as strong at, ranking No. 37 nationally in that department.
TCU is known for hard-nosed defense, and the Horned Frogs have kept opponents to an average of 114 yards per game on the ground with only two touchdowns. CSU will need to have success running the football on Saturday.
4. A battle of will for Thomas.
What TCU has shown its best at so far in 2010 is keeping quarterbacks at bay, as the Horned Frogs rank No. 9 nationally in pass defense, allowing an average of 143.3 yards per game through the air. Also, opposing quarterbacks average less than 50 percent completion against TCU.
CSU's Pete Thomas currently holds a completion percentage of 69.9, which ranks him No. 10 in that category in all of college football. On top of that, Thomas ranks No. 14 overall in total passing yards with 1,081.
You know those "rinky-dinky" short passes from the Rams we've all loved to criticize so much? CSU is going to need some of that on Saturday to make sure that Thomas can stay in rhythm against a very experienced defense.
Thomas is going to have to play like a senior on Saturday, a challenge I'm sure he's up to.
3. Play balanced defense.
On the defensive side of things is where this game really gets interesting for the Rams, as CSU defensive coordinator Larry Kerr has shown over the past two seasons against teams that run the ball well (mainly Air Force), that all the focus goes on stopping the run … which leads to quality rushing teams racking up tons of passing yards.
TCU has the 11th-best rushing offense in the country while Andy Dalton's passing yards have been limited to 708 total with five touchdowns and four interceptions. It's obvious that the Rams need to focus on stopping the tandem of Matthew Tucker and Ed Wesley on Saturday, but do not, do not, do not (I can't stress that enough) forget about Dalton, who I still think will be a first round NFL Draft pick in April.
He will KILL YOU if you let him.
Yes, "KILL YOU" in all caps - Dan Gilbert style.
2. Want it, baby.
While this game doesn't really have the rivalry factor on the Rams' side, that element that sends records out the window, CSU knows TCU is the highest-ranked opponent to ever step foot on Sonny Lubick Field.
A week ago we saw a CSU team that had its backs against the wall and decided to step up and beat a very good Idaho team, one I expect to finish third in the Western Athletic Conference behind Nevada and Boise state.
I know it's one of the intangibles, but in order for CSU to win on Saturday, the Rams are going to just have to want it more. It may sound cliché, but it's absolutely the truth.
It has been a long time since CSU has pulled off a legitimate upset, and Saturday would be a great time to do so. The Rams have, literally, nothing to lose. This should be a game where the entire team plays like its the last each member ever will; to lay it all on the line and say "today I'm making a statement. Today I'm going to define Colorado State football as a program that never backs down."
It's going to take a lot of heart, but if this team can let its emotions run high (but not out of control), who knows what could happen.
1. Standing room only.
Finally, CSU is going to need an actual home field advantage on Saturday in order to pull off the upset. That means the Hughes Stadium needs to be packed completely around the horseshoe.
There is absolutely no reason this game should not sell out. None at all.
The No. 5 team in the country is coming to what some forget is a great college football town. Win or lose, the emotion of the Fort Collins population in the fall is very dependent on how the Rams perform. Fort Collins loves CSU and it's time that entire community comes out and shows it.
Can fans go out on the field and make actual plays?
Don't be stupid, of course not. But fans can disrupt plays, by being so damn loud that it causes TCU to think "Holy ****! What is going on here?"
If you're in Fort Collins, you should be doing everything you can to make it to this game. Graduates living in Denver, you need to come up too. And students, you gotta be as crazy as you possibly can. CSU needs you to help them get a win on Saturday.
Force Hughes Stadium into being a standing room only venue on Saturday.
See you at the game.