Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick's team is doing something that's unprecedented in his 14-year tenure. But for Lubick and the Rams, that's not a good thing.
CSU dropped its fifth consecutive game Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, a 35-22 setback to Utah, marking the reeling Rams' longest losing streak under Lubick.
Now, CSU (4-6 overall, 1-5 in the Mountain West Conference) is almost certainly destined to stay home for the holidays.
"There's a little bit of disappointment," said wide receiver Damon Morton, who caught three passes for 75 yards against the Utes. "We knew we had to win these next three games to have a bid to a bowl game. So with this loss, it kind of hurts."
After trailing 14-0, the Rams rallied to pull within one, 14-13, on a 2-yard run by Gartrell Johnson, though CSU botched the PAT on a bobbled snap.
Then the Ram defense allowed Utah to drive 65 yards for a TD on its ensuing possession to take a 21-13 lead just before halftime.
A 33-yard field goal by Jason Smith cut the deficit to 21-16 early in the third quarter. But once again, the Utes answered with another long touchdown drive.
"Defensively, we didn't get some stops when we really needed them," Lubick said. "We got back to within 21-16 and we had to get a stop or two. There was confidence on our sideline. But they come right back and take it 70 yards and always kept the two-score differential. They were the best football team."
The Rams found themselves down 35-16 midway through the fourth quarter and had the ball at the Utah 49, facing fourth-and-three. Lubick decided to punt.
"At that point, everything we did offensively was going wrong and backfiring on us," Lubick explained.
Quarterback Caleb Hanie completed 13-of-30 passes for 186 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also gained 75 yards on 13 carries.
CSU ended up punching the ball into the end zone one last time, with 41 seconds remaining in the game, when backup quarterback Billy Farris hit tight end Kory Sperry on a 7-yard touchdown pass. It was the Rams' first fourth-quarter score in MWC play this season.
"I saw some improvement, if you try to look at the positive parts of it," Lubick said of his team.
The Rams enjoyed their highest-scoring game in more than a month.
"I guess we're happy with what we did, but still have a lot of improvement to do," Morton said. "Putting up 22 points, that's still not a lot of points for what we feel we can do as an offense."