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Sports / Recreation

Rams open football season at New Mexico

August 31, 2011

CSU, armed with a veteran quarterback and a star linebacker, faces New Mexico on Saturday in 'paramount' game.

Quarterback Pete Thomas returns to lead the CSU offense after a stellar freshman season.Optimism will be in the air Saturday when the CSU football team opens the season at New Mexico.

The Rams, coming off back-to-back 3-9 seasons, are counting on an experienced offense and an improved defense as they open Mountain West play in a rare season-opening conference game. Fourth-year coach Steve Fairchild has been pleased with the Rams’ progress as they seek their first winning season since 2007.

“There is no question this is a huge game, and it's on the road. It's conference, so it has that implication as well,” Fairchild said. “Make no mistake about it, our football program and our players know how paramount this game is Saturday.”

Thomas, Sisson lead the way

Sophomore Pete Thomas returns at quarterback after throwing for 2,662 yards and completing 64.7 percent of his passes as a true freshman. Four starters return on the offensive line, along with three veteran running backs and a talented group of receivers.

The defense is led by preseason all-MWC linebacker Mychal Sisson, who led the nation in forced fumbles as a junior. Senior safety Ivory Herd, senior cornerback Elijah-Blu Smith and sophomore linebacker Mike Orakpo are also expected to play key roles for the Rams.

Lobos have struggled

New Mexico is coming off a 1-11 season, which included a 38-14 loss to CSU. The Lobos have won just two games in their first two years under coach Mike Locksley.

Saturday’s game, which begins at 4 p.m. at University Stadium in Albuquerque, will be televised by The Mtn. (Comcast Ch. 411, DirecTV Ch. 616).

Rams open at home Sept. 10

CSU opens the home season Sept. 10 in an Ag Day battle against Northern Colorado, then plays Colorado on Sept. 17 in Denver in the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown.