McElwain and his Rams play Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday at 5:11 p.m.
Alabama heads into this game 2-0, taking away Johnny Manziel’s shot at a perfect season last week with a 49-42 victory at Kyle Field. This will be Alabama’s first home game of the season.
CSU got its first win last week against Cal Poly, improving them to a 1-2 record. The Rams are on a home-game winning streak of four, but have struggled in away games. Their last victory away from Hughes Stadium was Sept. 24, 2011 against Utah State. They are 0-6 since McElwain took the reigns, so the heat is on.
Though Alabama is currently No. 1 in the nation, and CSU has yet to break the top-50, the Rams are excited.
“I’m anxious to see what it’s like,” center Weston Richburg said. “I like playing in pressure situation, and playing against the best team in the nation, that’s about as pressure-filled as it gets.”
This is the first of two games the Rams will play against the Tide, and the 14th time in school history that the Rams have played a current SEC opponent. They are 2-11 against those teams, who are famed for their size and formidability.
“They have some tall guys out there, so we will have to work on speed and stay low to the ground,” linebacker Shaq Barrett said.
Last week’s victory saw a lot of top-tier performances for the Rams, including Barrett’s two blocked field goals and quarterback Garrett Grayson’s career-high passing yardage.
Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron also threw for career-high yardage last week against A&M, in addition to 4 touchdown passes.
The entire Colorado State squad will need to perform at an extremely high level to take down the nation’s No. 1 team, and they know it.
“We can’t let the crowd noise get the best of us, it’s only a big game because it’s the next game,” linebacker Max Morgan said. “It comes down to the communication, we will be out there, making sure nothing bad happens.”
Offensive lineman Jared Biard, who stands 6’7” and weighs in at 315 pounds, talked about the importance of protecting his quarterback from the notoriously large Alabama defense.
“They’ve got some big guys out there, some studs,” he says. “But we are going to deal with them like we deal with everybody else. We have to know our assignments soundly, and work with great technique. That’s the only thing that can defeat size.”
The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2, so the 100,000+ Crimson Tide fans will not be the only ones privy to viewing this game. On college game day, an average of 3,840,000 people check in to watch, which could bring on the nerves, but not for Biard.
“Would you rather play in front of 5 people, or 100,000?” He asked. “For me personally, it’s going to be exciting as hell.”Football Beat Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org