The Rocky Mountain Showdown is finally here. 

After a four-year hiatus, Colorado and Colorado State will face off at Folsom Field in front of a national TV audience Saturday night. 

With ESPN Gameday and Fox Big Noon Kickoff both in Boulder, and many other celebrities in town to check out the game as well, this is easily one of the most anticipated matchups in the history of the rivalry. 

Unsurprisingly, nobody seems to be giving the Green & Gold a chance to be competitive in this one. Let alone win the game. As far as the vast majority of the media are concerned, this show might as well be a one-man band. 

That said, as Jay Norvell made it abundantly clear with his comments on his Coaches Show Wednesday night, the Rams don’t really care about the noise. And as far as the mindset in the CSU locker room goes, they’re hoping to be the ones that rain all over CU’s parade. 

With that in mind, let’s talk about the keys for CSU on Saturday. 

Shorten the game 

The Buffs are going to put points on the board. Shedeur Sanders is as poised as they come under center. And the athleticism and speed that CU has at the skill positions is just too much to completely shut down. 

One of the ways that the Rams can really help themselves out in this game is by shortening it as much as possible. The more CSU is able to sustain drives, run the football and keep the ball out of Sanders’ hands, the better their chances will be in this one. 

What you cannot do is leave the defense out to dry with a bunch of three-and-outs. If CSU is consistently sending the punt team out after only possessing the ball for a minute or two, much like we saw against Wazzu in Week 1, it’s going to be tough for the defense to hold up against a high-tempo unit like CU’s. 

3rd Down efficiency 

The Rams did a pretty good job of getting Washington State into third and long. The problem was that Cam Ward consistently found ways to keep the Cougars on the field. 

When CSU puts itself in position to come up with a defensive stop, they have to step up and capitalize. Giving up explosive plays in those situations can be back-breaking. At the very least it’s demoralizing. 

Use the weapons 

CSU has more talent at running back, wide receiver and tight end than we’ve seen in quite some time. Tory Horton, Dallin Holker and these guys are a handful for any defense that they face. 

Unlike what we saw in Week 1, the Rams have to take advantage with these guys from the get-go. While they do need to establish the run and try to shorten the game as much as possible, stretching the field and putting pressure on the Buffs vertically is extremely important as well. 

Increase the margins 

Any time a team is 23-point underdogs, their margin for error is razor thin. Whether it’s executing on special teams, winning the turnover battle, etc, CSU has to do anything it can to increase those margins. 

The Rams returned a kickoff for a score against Wazzu. CSU had a pair of defensive touchdowns in the win over Nevada last fall. Making those types of plays in this one could potentially be massive. 

Punch back 

We’ve seen plenty of weird things happen in the history of this series. If the Rams are truly going to go into enemy territory and make things interesting though, they pretty much have to make it a street fight. 

You’re going to give up plays. You’re going to get knocked down. But can you continue to fight back and show the type of resilience that the great Rams teams from over the years have had? 

Norvell put himself out on a limb for this squad by taking a shot at Sanders earlier this week. We’ll see if his team can match that same energy. 


Justin is a Colorado State alumnus and has covered the Rams for DNVR since 2019. Prior to coming to DNVR, Justin was the founder of and the Sports Director for the Rocky Mountain Collegian. From 2013-15 he was an intern for CSU Football.

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