By Mike Brohard Loveland Reporter-Herald
FORT COLLINS — Cal is ranked 10th in the nation and already has dropped a top-25 team this year — impressively — on national television. Some experts are calling the Cal offense the best in the nation, and punt returner/wideout DeSean Jackson sits atop some early Heisman Voting lists. Daunting, yes, but Colorado State will show up at noon today at Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. "We’re going to go out and play,” CSU coach Sonny Lubick said. “We’ve won some big games around here.” The Bears are quick, explosive and determined. They feel they’ve already struck one note for West Coast football by thumping Tennessee out of the mighty Southeastern Conference, but they feel they have bigger fish to fry.
“When you have a national championship on your mind, you have to compete and win every week,” Cal safety Brandon Hampton said. “(Last) Saturday (against Tennessee) was great, and we were happy about that, but now we have to prepare for the Rams. ... We have a new task at hand.” According to oddsmakers, Colorado State presents nothing but a speed bump in today’s game, judging from the fact the host Rams are a two-touchdown underdog.
Not that this comes as any surprise to them. “We’re not idiots over here. We probably know a team ranked in the top 10 against a team coming off a loss is going to come in favored, and people are going to expect them to win,” CSU quarterback Caleb Hanie said. “We know that over here, but it’s not like we’re going to hide from that. We know that in the back of our heads, we have a great opportunity to come in and upset a big team. “They’re going to be a good challenge for us, but I definitely think we’re up for that challenge. We’re not going to worry about what other people think.” What has everybody’s attention is Cal’s offense, from Nate Longshore completing passes to seven different receivers — all of them very quick — to Justin Forsett running for better than 150 yards. There are so many weapons, coach Jeff Tedford has a plethora of options each time he sends in a play. Count the Rams among those who are impressed. They’re just not awestruck. “I’ve played (U)SC; I’ve played Minnesota. I don’t really care,” CSU defensive tackle Blake Smith said. “Every game is the same to me. Are they better than most of the teams we’ve played? Maybe the best, I don’t know. But they’ve played one game.
“I don’t understand why everybody is acting like it will be some kind of massacre.” In some ways, the Rams’ offense is a big part of Colorado State’s defense. “Certainly, we’re going to have to play good on offense,” co-offensive coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt said. “I don’t know if that’s play keepaway or if that’s score 40 points. I don’t know what that is. We’ve got to play good on offense to match them.” No one at CSU is hiding from the fact that Cal represents a huge challenge. On the same note, no one around the Rams is acting as if the Bears represent an insurmountable challenge. On top of that, nobody thinks perfection is necessary to post the upset. Improvement, however, is paramount to the intent. “We have to be very, very good in every aspect,” Lubick said. “Hopefully, and we’ll see after the game, and I’m no prophet, but I know that if our kicking game improves, which should be easy ... I just think our kicking game will be much improved. I just have a feeling.”