Rams announce 2012 football schedule
March 2, 2012
By Nick Frank
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Colorado State fans will get to see new Head Coach Jim McElwain coach his first game on the Rams’ sideline Sunday, Sept. 2, when the Rams meet Colorado in the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown. The Rams also will travel to Air Force to open their conference slate on Sept. 29, part of the 114th football schedule in program history, announced by the Mountain West Friday.
Information on season tickets, including prices, renewal procedures and new-customer instructions, will be announced in the near future.
The Rams in 2012 are back to opening their schedule with Colorado after meeting the Buffs in Week 3 last season. The game also returns to Sunday, and could be the only contest in the nation – college or NFL – in its to-be-determined timeslot that day. NFL teams will have concluded their preseason schedules by Sept. 2. The Pac-12 will announce television and kickoff time for the contest, the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, at a later date.
Kickoff times for all CSU games, as well as televising networks, also will be announced later this spring, and there is a chance the date of a given game will move to accommodate a national broadcast, although the weekend will not change. CSU will announce special dates, such as Homecoming, in the near future.
In non-conference play, the Rams will have their first meeting with North Dakota State in school history. Colorado State head basketball coach Tim Miles coached six seasons for the Bison, leading their basketball squad to a 99-71 record. In 2011, North Dakota’s football team went 14-1 en route to winning the FCS national championship.
CSU will then make its first of two 2012 trips to California, to play San Jose State, attempting to avenge a 38-31 loss in 2011. Rams special teams coordinator Jeff Hammerschmidt coached one year for the Spartans in 2007.
On Sept. 22, the Rams will host Utah State, in a rivalry that spans 110 years, including several decades in the same conference. Last season, CSU won in a double-overtime thriller, topping the Aggies, 35-34. The game will also have special meaning to new offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin, who spent the previous three seasons with USU.
Air Force, riding a six-year winning streak in the CSU series, will host the Rams in Colorado Springs on Sept. 29. Colorado State’s last win over the Falcons came on Sept. 29, 2005, when Kyle Bell ran for 197 yards and three touchdowns, propelling the Rams to a 41-23 victory.
CSU will welcome a new addition to the Mountain West, hosting Fresno State on Oct. 6. It will mark the 12th meeting (CSU leads 7-4 in series) between the two schools. The last time the Rams and Bulldogs squared off was the 2008 New Mexico Bowl, where Gartrell Johnson established an NCAA postseason record with 375 combined rushing and receiving yards, helping CSU top Fresno State, 40-35. Three coaches on CSU’s current staff, (McElwain, offensive line coach Derek Frazier and linebackers coach Tim Skipper) have coached for Fresno State at some point in their careers.
On Oct. 13, when the Rams travel to San Diego State, fans will get to see whether CSU RB Chris Nwoke can assemble a performance comparable to his 2011 effort against the Aztecs. Last season in Fort Collins, as part of an astounding 810 yards in five games (162 .0 yards per game), one of Nwoke’s breakout games came against SDSU, when he rushed 22 times for 232 yards and a touchdown. The Oct. 13 contest will mark CSU’s last conference game against the Aztecs, who are departing for the Big East in 2013.
After an Oct. 20 CSU bye week, Hawaii will travel more than 3,200 miles to Fort Collins for the first time since 1997, to play the Rams on Oct. 27. The meeting in 1997 was one of the more lopsided games in the history of Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium, with CSU defeating the Warriors, 63-0, when both programs were members of the Western Athletic Conference.
For the first time since 2006, the annual Border War against the Wyoming Cowboys will not conclude the regular-season schedule. The Rams, who travel to Laramie on Nov. 3, will try to stop Wyoming from winning its fourth-straight Bronze Boot. The last time the Rams brought the storied Bronze Boot back to Fort Collins was 2008, also the last time that CSU went to a bowl game.
CSU will host UNLV on Nov. 10, marking the 21st meeting between the two schools. The Rams have won seven of the last nine games against the Rebels but suffered a tough loss in Las Vegas during the 2011 campaign, falling 38-35.
On Nov. 17, the Rams will make their first trip to Boise, Idaho, to play Boise State. BSU, which went 12-1 in 2011 and finished No. 8 in the AP poll following the season, will have to replace its Heisman Trophy candidate Kellen Moore at quarterback. Moore had started the past four seasons for the Broncos, winning an NCAA-record 50 games in that span. The contest will mark the programs’ second and final game as members of the same conference, as the Broncos will depart for the Big East in 2013.
To conclude the regular season on Nov. 24, the Rams will look to win their third in a row against New Mexico, when the Lobos come to Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. McElwain will meet another Mountain West first-year coach in Bob Davie. In addition, Baldwin will meet another former team, as he was the Lobos’ offensive coordinator from 2007-08.