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FORT COLLINS, COLO. -- A confident group of Rams heads to Provo this weekend to face a ranked, but rebounding BYU team.
The Colorado State Rams (3-0) come into LaVell Edwards Stadium having won their first three games of the season (Colorado, Weber State and Nevada) and with a bad taste in their mouths after last year's heartbreaking 45-42 defeat to the Cougars.
In a back and forth shootout the Rams eventually lost on a Max Hall touchdown pass to TE Dennis Pitta with just 22 seconds left.
When asked if his team is confident they can beat BYU, second year Head Coach Steve Fairchild answered abruptly, "I'm hoping we feel that way. I'll quit coaching when I don't think we can win a game. But BYU deserved to win that game last year. They outplayed us and we could not get a play when we needed to down the stretch."
No. 19 BYU (2-1) is coming off an embarrassing loss to (18) Florida State that dropped them 12 spots in the polls. The Cougars were favored in that game, but quickly got behind and with the help of five turnovers lost 54-28.
Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall said fundamentally the Cougars failed, counting for 27 simple assignment errors. "That's over a third of the plays where a player at the point of attack just didn't do what he was supposed to do at the same level he'd been doing it the previous two weeks," said Mendenhall. "Fundamentals and execution really changed the game and those are things that we have a chance to control. So optimism comes from things that lie within your control and now we have a chance to apply that." The Cougars hope to make those corrections and adjustments against an improving Rams team.
Colorado State is led by senior QB Grant Stucker and an opportunistic defense which has 10 turnovers in three games (five interceptions, five fumble recoveries). The Rams are number one in the Mountain West Conference with a +7 turnover margin. After their five turnovers on Saturday (10 total in three games), the Cougars are eighth in the MWC with -4 turnover margin.
But Fairchild isn't concerned about taking anything away from BYU's loss to the Seminoles. He says, "I'm more interested in just how we play. We're still at a very young stage in our program and my main concern is can we get better during the week and can we get better this Saturday than we did the previous three Saturdays.
"I've got the utmost respect for Coach Mendenhall and the BYU program and all the heritage that's there and everything they stand for. We are trying to get out program back to that level and we're going to win this game sooner or later. This will be a good measuring stick for us."
Kickoff on Saturday, Sept. 26 is set for 4 p.m. from LaVell Edwards Stadium.
You can hear more from Coach Fairchild during the BYU pregame show beginning at 2 p.m. on KSL Newsradio 102.7FM/1160AM.