November 26, 2023


About the speculation last week about which bowl-game spot the Colorado State Rams might draw ...

(I guessed the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, by the way.) 


Emily Litella has the final words. 


I fell asleep in the third quarter (I think), and had the feeling that the Rams, who weren't playing well against the dreadful Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in Honolulu, were headed for a decisive loss, emphatically knocking them out of the likely bowl berth.


Instead, the Rams came back in the fourth quarter on Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi touchdown passes to Louis Brown IV and Tory Horton, the latter a 70-yard play with only 54 seconds remaining. It took a 2-point conversion after Horton's elecrifying TD to pull into a 24-24 tie.


But there was no OT.


Hawaii scrambled and won 27-24 on Matthew Shipley's 51-yard field goal on the final play of the game. 


So the Rams' winning streak ended at three. They finished 5-7 overall and 3-5 in the Mountain West, tied for eighth place in a 12-team league. 


"I was disappointed with how we played," Jay Norvell said after the loss. "I thought we needed to play better. The fact we were in that position at the end of the game, still had a chance after doing some things pretty poorly for a couple of quarters, I'm proud of how our kids fought back. It's an example of how difficult it is to win and what you have to invest to win as a team."


The rest of the season mostly reinforced what I wrote after the Rams' ugly season-opening loss at home to Washington State. That is, the CSU program's overall regression in the seven seasons since the move into the showcase on-campus stadium is both striking and puzzling. CSU's records of 3-9 in 2022 and 5-7 in 2023 under Norvell are mostly recognized as part of a reconstruction in the wake of the disastrous Steve Addazio tenure. I'm actually heartened and impressed that CSU stalwarts, while grumbling, haven't overreacted.


Norvell is a good fit at CSU and turning the CSU job into even more of a revolving door would be counterproductive. In the new college football landscape, with high transfer-portal turnover and NIL as major issues, constituency impatience is even more pronounced. One of CSU's major problems is the perception that support is lacking, with such embarrasments as aerial shots of the sparse crowd at the Nevada game raising red flags. 


The Rams had a chance to be a bit of a feel-good story on the state's Division I scene (Colorado School of Mines has a bona fide chance of winning the Division II national title), but fell short.


Air Force, which also lost at Hawaii, has had key injuries, has dropped four straight after an 8-0 start, and will limp into a bowl.


And the Buffaloes? After being one of the top national stories at the outset of the season, they lost eight of the last nine and finished last in the final season of the Pac-12. I'm going to guess that the Ram constituency considers that a bit of solace.  



I'm going to be Mr. Positive here. In case you missed it on an earlier post, this turned out to be the highlight of the 2023 season. Above: I was standing at the corner of the end zone for the Hail Mary against Boise State and was able to snap this with my cell phone. Dallin Holker (5), at left here, ended up making the catch as the Rams miraculously pulled into a tie on the final play of the fourth quarter. Jordan Noyes' extra-point kick gave the Rams the 31-30 win. In the picture, Tory Horton and Louis Brown IV (4) are going up for the Rams as Holker trails the play.   


And here, the officials make the call, which stood up through the video review. At that point, at least the east side of the stadium (in the background) was nearly empty.  




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