Coach Sonny Lubick had turned Colorado State into a winner, but now the Rams are suffering one wrenching loss after another.
They are 0-3 this season, running their skid to 10 in a row. Only Florida International, at 16 consecutive defeats, is going through a longer losing streak among Division I-A schools.
All three of Colorado State’s losses this season were excruciating. The Rams lost in overtime 31-28 to Colorado, 34-28 to No. 10 California and 38-27 to Houston after leading 17-3 at halftime.
“We’ve dealt with a pretty tough schedule early in the season,” Lubick said. “It wears on the guys and on the coaches. I’m sure they hear about it all the time. But players are bigger than we give them credit for. They’re bigger than the coaches. They believe we can still be a pretty darn good football team.
“We’re playing everybody pretty darn well, but you’ve still got to win a game.”
The Rams looked as if they had such a victory Saturday at Houston, but they couldn’t hold the lead and went conservative late in the game.
With the score tied, Colorado State faced a third-and-10 deep in Cougars territory. The Rams ran and settled for the field goal, which put them ahead 27-24. Houston easily scored a touchdown for a 31-27 advantage.
Colorado State drove again and reached Houston’s 49-yard line for a third-and-4. The Rams ran two running plays, failed to pick up a first down and turned over the ball.
Lubick lamented the missed opportunities and his conservative approach.
“You try not to second-guess,” Lubick said. “But I do second-guess whether we should’ve done this or that.”
• AIR WHO? — Before Air Force dropped to 3-1 on Saturday, ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said he didn’t know what to make of the Falcons because he couldn’t see them on television.
It was an apparent shot at the Mountain West Conference’s TV deal with CSTV and The mtn.
Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said Herbstreit must not be one of 75 million viewers who watch Versus or 25 million who tune in for CSTV. Thompson conceded The mtn., CSTV’s regional arm that covers the conference exclusively, isn’t available on cable or satellite systems for Herbstreit to see.
“Take it for what it’s worth,” Thompson said. “He’s an employee of the former rights holder.”
• MYSTERY CONTINUES — No conference defender was more decorated in the preseason than Texas Christian’s Tommy Blake, but he has made news for reasons other than football.
Blake missed about a week of training camp for an issue that never was fully explained.
Now TCU coach Gary Patterson is saying Blake will sit out the next two weeks for a reason he can’t talk about “because of confidentiality.”
This is what Patterson did say: “If you look around the country, you can come up with enough examples to understand. It’s been a problem since way back at the beginning of two-a-days.”
Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram columnist Gil LeBreton wrote in August about the pressure on Blake to live up to high expectations.