Rams off to a nice start

Oct 3, 2006 2:51 AM

This could easily have been a 1-3 Colorado State squad we’re discussing instead of 3-1 with the strong possibility of a fourth win this week against UNLV.

The Rams put together their best game of season, scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half to shock Fresno State 35-23 as a 14½ point road underdog. Meanwhile, the visiting UNLV is off a disappointing 31-3 home setback to rival Nevada-Reno.

QB Caleb Hanie passed for 248 yards and three scores to help CSU hand Fresno its first back-to-back losses in the 10 year coaching tenure of Pat Hill. As for the Rams’ famed head man Sonny Lubick, he gained career win 104 against just 57 losses.

The Rams open Mountain West Conference play this week against the struggling Rebels, losers of three straight after an opening win against Division 1-AA Idaho State.

Here in Las Vegas, where the betting line is of prime concern, wiseguys are already onto the fact that CSU is just 3-7 against the spread in the last 10 matchups with the Rebels. Coach Lubick will also have to deal with the Homecoming festitivities that often is a distraction in team preparation.

The UNLV contest is particularly important to the Rams, with a conference matchup at Air Force next up on a Thursday night. Fortunately, playing the lowly Rebels would appear to be at the right time after consecutive games for State against Colorado, Nevada and Fresno.

Two years ago in Fort Collins, the Rams easily handled UNLV 45-10 as a 6½ point favorite. Last year, the Rams defeated 31-27 in the regular season finale as a 15-point road chalk.

These next four games (UNLV, Air Force, Wyoming, New Mexico) are vital for CSU if thinking MWC title. The Rams face the league’s top three teams consecutively (BYU, Utah and TCU) mixed in with a bye week. The regular season finale is Dec. 2 at a struggling San Diego State.

Damon Morton also played a major role in the upset at Fresno, returning a punt 58 yards for a score.