Mountain West

Colorado State's resurgence started in October with spirited loss to Boise State

Boise State defensive end Durrant Miles, back right, and linebacker Tanner Vallejo sack Colorado State quarterback Nick Stevens during a 28-23 Broncos victory Oct. 15 at Albertsons Stadium.
Boise State defensive end Durrant Miles, back right, and linebacker Tanner Vallejo sack Colorado State quarterback Nick Stevens during a 28-23 Broncos victory Oct. 15 at Albertsons Stadium. Idaho Statesman file

Most tales of a football team’s great play rarely begin with a loss, but that’s when Colorado State found out how good it could be.

As the clock approached midnight Oct. 15 at Albertsons Stadium, it seemed the Rams were headed to another double-digit loss to Boise State, just as had been the case in the teams’ previous five meetings. But something odd happened.

Injured by a bullet fragment in the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., Colorado State offensive tackle Zack Golditch used his experience to be active with charity, earning the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Humanitarian Award.

The Rams scored three touchdowns in an 85-second span, recovering back-to-back onside kicks before ultimately losing 28-23.

“Before that game, the coaches kept telling us if we could win, it would make a huge statement,” junior offensive tackle Zack Golditch said. “Obviously, we didn’t accomplish that, but I think we proved to ourselves we could play with the best teams. I think it’s something we carried the rest of the season.”

Colorado State (7-5) heads back to The Blue at 5 p.m. Thursday to face Idaho (8-4) in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. With it, the Rams have rode some serious momentum since that loss to the Broncos.

Winners of four of their five games since — the only loss a 49-46 defeat against Air Force — Colorado State is averaging 47.4 points per game in that span, including 49-31 and 63-31 wins in consecutive weeks over New Mexico and San Diego State to end the season. Junior quarterback Nick Stevens has thrown 12 touchdowns and one interception during the 4-1 run, and the Rams are rushing for 274.4 yards per game.

“There’s no question since the last 5, 6 minutes of that Boise State game our guys have been playing at a pretty high level, especially offensively,” Colorado State coach Mike Bobo said. “Nick Stevens was coming back as a starter after we lost Collin Hill to injury, and that fourth quarter gave him some confidence.”

In the loss to Boise State, the Rams trailed 28-3 before the comeback, but even as Hayden Hunt’s third onside kick was recovered, they still had the ball at the end of the game, stopping Jeremy McNichols with 15 seconds left on fourth down. The game ended on a gadget play with multiple laterals, one being deemed an illegal forward pass.

“Then we kind of saw, if both sides of the ball and special teams played together, it would make us hard to beat,” junior center Jake Bennett said. “That kind of was our motto the rest of the season, just play together as a team. And it kind of worked out for us.”

With a full head of steam, the Rams went from 3-4 after the Boise State loss to seeking the program’s third eight-win season in the last 14 years.

“Guys were just tired of being close,” Bennett said. “We knew what (we) were capable of and it was just time to cut the crap and start winning ball games.”

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @IDS_BroncoBeat

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

▪ Teams: Idaho (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt) vs. Colorado State (7-5, 5-3 Mountain West)

▪ Time: 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22

▪ Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf), Boise

▪ TV: ESPN (David Neal, Matt Stinchcomb, Olivia Harlan)

▪ Radio: 630 AM

▪ Tickets: Available at ticketmaster.com

▪ Vegas: Colorado State by 14

▪ Coaches: Idaho, Paul Petrino (fourth year; 14-33); Colorado State, Mike Bobo (second year; 14-11)

▪ Bowl records: Idaho 2-0, Colorado State 6-9

▪ Series record: Colorado State leads 4-3

FAN EVENTS

▪ Wednesday: Mash Bash at The Village, Meridian, 7-8 p.m.

GAME DAY

▪ 9 a.m.: Albertsons Stadium ticket office opens

▪ 2-5 p.m.: Tent Village/Fan Fest, Simplot Fry Feed, Albertsons Stadium west parking lot

▪ 2-5 p.m.: Tent Village/Fan Fest, FitOne Family Field Day, Caven Williams Sports Complex

▪ 3:30-4 p.m.: Tent Village/Fan Fest, Battle of the Bands, Albertsons Stadium west parking lot

▪ 3:30 p.m.: Albertsons Stadium gates open

▪ 4 p.m.: Pre-game activities, Albertsons Stadium

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