For the 24 Colorado State University football players who hail from California, today's game against 10th-ranked California is a very big deal. Even though the majority of the California Rams are from the southern part of the state, it's always special to be taking on some of your peers from back home. "I'm sure every California guy on our team knows at least one guy on their team," senior wide receiver Johnny Walker said. "It's almost like a homecoming game for us, except we get to play them right here, in our stadium. I know we're all looking forward to it." Senior defensive tackle Erik Sandie, who hails from Danville, is one of a handful of CSU players from the Bay Area. And like pretty much everyone else on the team, he was not recruited by Cal. "The first college game I ever went to, back in the eighth grade, was at Cal," said Sandie, who attended football powerhouse De La Salle High School. "I went to their camp before my senior year, but that's about as far as it went. "Don't get me wrong - I love CSU, and I couldn't have made a better choice for me. But it would also be nice to be able to show that I can play and see if Cal might want to reconsider their decision not to recruit me."
While California long has been a fertile recruiting ground for CSU, Cal rarely recruits in Colorado. Just one in-state player - former Mullen High School star Chris Guarnero - is on the Bears' roster. Guarnero is listed as the backup to starting center Alex Mack.
> THE SERIES - This will be just the second meeting between these teams. CSU won the only previous meeting 23-21 in 2003, scoring the winning points with less than two minutes remaining on a Jeff Babcock field goal. Cal, by the way, is just the second Pacific-10 Conference team to play at Hughes. The first was Oregon, which posted a 23-9 win over Rams coach Sonny Lubick in his CSU debut in 1993.
> THE COACHES - Lubick is 105-66 in 15 seasons at CSU and 126-85 in 19 seasons overall. Interestingly, the Rams' current eight-game losing streak has whittled Lubick's winning percentage to .614, so he now trails Bob Davis (.618) when it comes to being the winningest coach in CSU history. He is 1-0 against Cal. Jeff Tedford is 44-20 in six seasons at Cal. CSU in 2003 handed Tedford one of his eight home losses since taking over the program in 2002.
> THROWBACK TIME - CSU will don throwback uniforms for the first time today to celebrate the school's 50th anniversary of the transition from Colorado A&M to CSU. The jerseys feature a white and gold stripe on the sleeve, while the pants are white. The helmets will have white numerals on the sides to coincide with jersey numbers. CSU is expected to auction off several of the jerseys and helmets at the end of the season. The remaining helmets will be repainted with the familiar bighorn sheep horns and used to replace older or broken helmets in future seasons.
> OTHER STUFF - In addition to the throwback uniforms, CSU will host its annual Ag Day celebration prior to the game. Also, Ram Town, the new tailgate and kids play area, will make its debut. Ram Town will include inflatables and games for kids, along with live radio remotes and other activities. Entrance is free, but food and drink vendors will be selling their wares. Ram Town opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 11:30 a.m.
> TICKET TALK - CSU officials had been hoping for a sellout but it appears as though the Rams' recent struggles, not to mention the $40 price tag for tickets, will make for some empty seats. As of Friday, CSU still had nearly 2,000 remaining tickets, all of which will be on sale at the stadium.
> BIG NUMBERS - Cal's DeSean Jackson might be the most exciting visiting player to visit Hughes in many, many years. The Heisman Trophy candidate has returned six punts for touchdowns while averaging an other-earthly 21.5 yards per return. He's also a terrific receiver and has led the Bears in catches the past two seasons.
> STAR POWER - One of the key players for CSU will be senior punter Jimmie Kaylor, whose job it will be to keep the ball away from Jackson whenever possible. Kaylor, who struggled last week against the University of Colorado, shouldn't be overly nervous about facing Jackson. After all, his first career punt in 2004 was to current New Orleans Saints star Reggie Bush.