Column: CSU keeps postseason dreams alive with Homecoming win

With a senior class that has reached three consecutive bowl games, Colorado State football (3-4, 2-1) hoped to compete for a conference championship in 2018. Considering the rough start to the season, the Rams would be lucky to make a bowl game, but with five games remaining on the schedule, qualifying for the postseason is not out of the question.

The Rams have won back-to-back games for the first time this year, and the team showed real poise Saturday, despite temporarily giving up the lead. It was far from a perfect performance. CSU blew multiple chances to blow the game open, missed a chip shot field goal attempt late in the game and had 65 penalty yards.

But the defense held its ground after being put in a variety difficult situations and did not give up a third down conversion in the second half. The offense deserves praise for not folding as well, especially after driving down the field for the win after the gut punch of missing an 18-yard field goal.

Preston Williams runs a route against the defense during pregame warmups.   PHOTO:   Justin Michael | Rams Report

Preston Williams runs a route against the defense during pregame warmups. PHOTO: Justin Michael | Rams Report

Obviously holding the lead would have been more ideal, and the coaches deserve criticism for some of the play calling in the second half. Running two straight wildcat plays in the red zone was a head-scratcher. A win is a win though, and more importantly, CSU kept its bowl dreams alive.

With an upcoming conference slate of Boise State, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah State and Air Force, CSU’s future opponents are a combined 16-16. Two of those teams currently lead the Mountain Division (BSU & USU) and two of those teams are at the bottom (AF & WYO). If Bobo can somehow lead this team to the postseason after everything that happened in the first six weeks, it may honestly be his greatest feat as a CSU coach so far.

The fans wanted more out of this season, and their expectations were not unwarranted. The program has had success over the last half decade, but as a whole, CSU has struggled when the pressure is on. And for a fanbase that desperately longs to reach the Power 5, the Rams have simply not won enough big games in the Bobo era.

Moving forward, fans should have high hopes of CSU football. Bobo is handsomely paid and the improved facilities should come with increased expectations. Football seasons are unpredictable though, and it would be unfair to not factor Bobo’s health issues into the equation of why the Rams struggled so much out of the gate.

The team did a great job of saying the right things during camp and telling the press that it could not make excuses about their coach being absent for nearly two weeks. However, Bobo being gone clearly affected the locker room. When the teacher is out of town, the students may behave under the substitute, but they never prepare like when the regular leader is in the classroom.

Currently one game below .500, qualifying for a bowl game would be a nice send off for a group of seniors that helped this program do a lot of good things. Six more weeks of practices would not hurt this team going into 2019 either.

With five games to go, CSU controls its own fate. Time to see what this coaching staff is capable of.

PHOTO: Elliott Jerge | Rocky Mountain Collegian