Rams' Mike Bobo prepares for first rivalry game vs. Colorado

DENVER (AP) Here's a trend Mike Bobo may find to his liking: The last three coaches to make their Colorado-Colorado State rivalry debut have walked away winners.

The tendency bodes well for the new Colorado State coach heading into Saturday, just like it did Colorado's Jon Embree in 2011, Colorado State's Jim McElwain in `12 and Colorado's Mike MacIntyre in `13.

Bobo isn't putting much stock in it, though. He's still trying to get up to speed on a rivalry that started in 1893.

''What's the name of the field? Mile High?'' Bobo playfully asked of the field they will play on, which is the home of the Denver Broncos.

Granted, this contest may not have the national prestige of a Georgia-Florida rivalry, the one Bobo is so accustomed to after being a quarterback and longtime assistant coach for the Bulldogs. But they're playing for the honor of hoisting the Centennial Cup. And bragging rights, of course.

''Our fan base is passionate about it. I'm sure theirs is too,'' Bobo said. ''Should be a great game.''

The Rams (1-1) are coming off a tough 23-20 overtime loss to Minnesota. The Buffs (1-1) have a head of steam after beating Massachusetts 48-14 to snap a nine-game skid.

''I honestly felt bad for them watching the last part of the Minnesota game when I got home, because they had a great opportunity to win the game,'' MacIntyre said. ''Colorado State is a mature team. They have weapons on offense.''

Especially All-American receiver Rashard Higgins, who didn't play last weekend due to an ankle injury. Don't overlook Joe Hansley, either, the dependable receiver who always seems to come up big against Colorado. Hansley has nine catches for 130 yards and a score against CU. He also had a 74-yard TD on a punt return in 2013.

''It's CU,'' Hansley said. ''We don't like them and they don't like us. Let the games begin.''

Here are things to know in a series that Colorado leads 62-22-2:

CLOUDY FUTURE: The in-state rivalry will be contested through 2020 and then take a two-year break as the sides try to figure out whether to hold the game in Denver or back on campus. The Buffs are holding open dates on their schedule beginning in 2023 to possibly accommodate the rivalry. In two years, Colorado State will open a $220 million on-campus stadium that seats 41,000.

LINE HELP: Colorado lost left tackle Jeromy Irwin for the season with an ACL injury. Sam Kronshage will now protect quarterback Sefo Liufau's blind side. ''I trust him to do his job, just like he trusts me to do my job back there,'' Liufau said.

THIS QB OR THAT QB: Although QB Nick Stevens will get most of the reps under center for the Rams, expect freshman Coleman Key to see field time as well - just like Bobo said he would at the beginning of the season. ''At end of day, if the ball comes and hits you in the hands, you've got to catch it,'' Hansley said.

STINGY DEFENSE: So far this season, Colorado State's defense has yet to allow a first down in the opening quarter. Minnesota's first six drives last weekend ended in five punts and a fumble. ''I'm really pleased with where we're at,'' Bobo said. ''Have we arrived? No. ... We were a lot more disciplined.''

HOME GROWN: Colorado State boasts 51 players from the Centennial State. That includes defensive lineman Joe Kawulok, a native of Boulder. On the flip side, the Buffs have around three dozen players from the state, including punter Alex Kinney, who hails from Fort Collins.

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AP College Football Website: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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Follow Pat Graham at www.twitter.com/pgraham34

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