Column: Friday's RMS will impact Bobo's legacy at CSU

Colorado State football was served a cold slice of reality in Saturday night's loss to Hawaii. The Rams entered the game as 17-point favorites and they played like a team that did not take its opponent seriously. This squad is not nearly talented enough to get away with such a lackadaisical approach though, and that showed when the Rainbow Warriors came out and punched the Rams in the mouth. 

CSU may have as much talent at the skill positions as any team in the Mountain West, but they also are going to be the smaller team in nearly every matchup this season, especially on the defensive side of the football. This means that the Rams will need to use athleticism and speed to make up for a general lack of size, but more importantly, it means CSU needs to game-plan around its strengths and weaknesses. 

In the loss to Hawaii, it was evident from the start that CSU was not prepared for its opponent, and frankly that is unacceptable. Hawaii racked up 600+ yards of total offense and quarterback Cole McDonald used a combination of his legs and the passing attack to embarrass the Rams in front of the home fans. 

Obviously losing head coach Mike Bobo for 10 days did not help CSU's cause, but the fact of the matter is the Rams were handily defeated by an opponent with inferior talent. And when you lose to an inferior opponent, nine times out of ten it stems from lack of preparation.

If CSU had lost to Alabama in the same fashion as Hawaii, fans would have at least been able to have some comfort in knowing that the Rams did not quit against against a clearly superior football team. When a home team comes out flat and builds an unrecoverable deficit to a squad they should have defeated, it is tough to feel positive about any kind of second half recovery though. 

That being said, CSU does not have time to dwell with a short week to prepare for Colorado and the always-important Rocky Mountain Showdown on Friday. Mike Bobo explained at Monday's press conference that CSU struggled to make Hawaii one dimensional and really allowed them do whatever they wanted offensively. He also explained that the team's lack of discipline was an issue that needs to be addressed. 

"Everybody was disappointed after the game and rightfully so," Bobo said. "But it's one game. We lost that ballgame and we've got a big, big, big week this week with the Rocky Mountain Showdown against a huge rival."

Colorado State players walk to midfield for the coin toss in the 2017 Rocky Mountain Showdown.

Colorado State players walk to midfield for the coin toss in the 2017 Rocky Mountain Showdown.

 

The biggest question of course will be whether CSU can bounce back from last week's discouraging letdown and improve enough to defeat a talented CU team. According to Bobo, the team has responded well since Saturday and had a productive practice Sunday evening, but is tough to say how that translates to Friday, considering the team was in shorts. 

CSU has struggled mightily in rivalry games under Bobo in general, losing to Air Force, Boise State, Colorado and Wyoming in 2017. And if the Colorado State faithful wanted a confidence booster heading into the annual rivalry game, Hawaii certainly was not it. 

"Criticism is the nature of the beast of the profession we're in," Bobo said. "It is like I told the team, we are in a bottom line business. What is the bottom line? Win ball games. Nobody held a gun to my head and said hey go be a coach. This is something I wanted to do."

Bobo is not running from the criticism, but until CSU finds a way to start winning the most important games of the season, his words will mean little to the fans that are sick and tired of watching the Rams fall short in high pressure situations. The only thing that will ever truly matter to the people in the stands is whether or not their team shows up in the big moments, and unfortunately for Bobo, that has not happened frequently in his tenure.

While all rivalry games matter, Friday's Rocky Mountain Showdown might actually be the most critical game since Bobo took over as head coach in 2015. The former Georgia offensive coordinator is 0-3 against CU in his career, which already had fans feeling antsy coming into the season, and getting upset by Hawaii at home in the Week 0 matchup only made things worse.

If there is a bright spot for Bobo, a victory over CU would quickly silence the majority of his critics. Another loss will lead to fans sharpening their pitchforks though. Either way, there is no denying the magnitude of Friday's game. 

PHOTOS: Elliott Jerge | Rocky Mountain Collegian