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Colorado State eliminated from postseason contention after falling to Air Force for the fifth year in a row

Justin Michael Avatar
November 14, 2021

FORT COLLINS — Dead in the water. 

Colorado State football followed up its worst performance of the 2021 season with yet another frustrating showing on Saturday night. In front of a crowd of 25,550 CSU supporters, the Rams had absolutely no answers for Air Force or its triple-option offense in a 35-21 defeat at Canvas Stadium. 

The loss to the Falcons is the fifth in a row for the Green & Gold. What’s worse, Air Force has now won 13 of the last 16 meetings overall. And what’s even worse than that is the fact that CSU has now come up short against Air Force, Boise State and Wyoming in each of the last five seasons they’ve played all three. It’s been a half decade of losing the most important conference games of the year. 

Here’s how it all went down. 

Recap

Although the Rams technically only trailed by a touchdown at halftime, this game was pretty much over before it even started. After going three and out on their opening series, CSU allowed Air Force to drive right down the field on its opening possession. All it took was five plays and less than 3 minutes of time for the Falcons to go 77 yards and score their first touchdown of the game. 

By the 11:16 mark of the first quarter, you could already feel what was coming. By the 10:21 mark that feeling started to seem like a guarantee. And by the 5:00 mark of the opening quarter the boo birds started to make an appearance with the Rams already down multiple scores. 

Air Force quarterback Haaziq Daniels (4) pitches the ball against the Colorado State Rams at Sonny Lubrick Field at Canvas Stadium. PHOTO: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

CSU did flash a little bit of life late in the first quarter with a seven play, 71-yard drive that was capped off with a 15-yard rushing touchdown by Todd Centeio. Unfortunately that momentum was short-lived because on the very next series, Air Force, while facing first and 27 from their own 8-yard line, connected on a 92-yard touchdown pass. It was the longest passing play in Air Force history. It’s also the longest offensive play recorded since Canvas Stadium was opened in 2017. 

Giving credit to CSU, the Rams never laid down and accepted defeat. The offense, led by Centeio, continued to drive on Air Force all night. The Rams even scored touchdowns in the Red Zone, which is something that’s been a rare sight most of the fall. The problem was that after going down early, CSU had to spend the entire game playing catch up and that’s an awful position to be in against a squad that would prefer to lean on its ground game anyways.

A perfect example of the predicament CSU was in on Saturday night played out in the third quarter. The Rams scored a touchdown on their one and only possession but Air Force scored on both of theirs, ran four times as many plays as their counterpart and completely ate up all the clock. Any time it felt like CSU might be gaining some ground, the Falcons always had the right response up their sleeves, and eventually the Rams just ran out of time while trying to kick, scratch and claw their way back into the game. Turnovers didn’t help CSU’s cause either. 

There’s really no sugar coating the situation. While the Rams did show some heart, after the first series of the game they never once were in position to win the game. With a slim chance at the postseason still on the line, it was about as deflating of a performance as a home team could have, especially against a division rival from your home state. Obviously the Rams have had to deal with some injury issues over the last month or so, but it’s the same song and dance every fall. These programs have been trending in the opposite direction for basically my entire life and Air Force proved once again that they’re the superior football team in the Centennial State in this one. 

We’ll see if the Rams can salvage a victory in the final road trip of the season next Saturday at Hawaii. Honestly, though, it doesn’t really matter. Despite having a strong veteran presence and multiple NFL players on the roster, the only thing that the fans are going to remember about 2021 is feeling let down once again. 

Maybe 2022 will be different but considering the talent that will be moving on, it’s tough to feel positive about much with this program right now. Ram life, right? 

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