CU knows importance of CSU game

Colorado not over-looking in-state rival Colorado State.

BOULDER -- If Colorado's football team ever thought less about in-state rival Colorado State, those thoughts seem to be gone now.

On Saturday the Buffaloes (0-2) will play the CSU Rams (2-0) in the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown. And, while Las Vegas odds makers have set the Buffs as an 8 or 8 1/2-point favorite, the Buffs know they just need a win, no matter how they get it.

"Being 0-2, we've got to win one," quarterback Tyler Hansen said.

CU doesn't expect a win against the Rams to come easy, even if it does dominate the all-time series, 60-20-2.

"Right now it's looking like it's going to be a dog fight," receiver Paul Richardson said. "We expect them to come out hard and we're going to come out hard. We have a chip on our shoulder. We're 0-2, so we don't have a choice."

While CU dominates the series, it has been rather close since 1999. That year, CSU beat the Buffs for the first time in 13 years, and since 1999 CU holds a slim 7-5 margin in the series.

For years, CU has been thought of us as the "big brother" in this rivalry, but CU doesn't view itself that way.

"No, because it means a lot to me," head coach Jon Embree said when asked if the rivalry means more to CSU than CU. "I do not get that sense. It's important to this program, it's important to us. That game has always meant a lot to me."

Embree is just glad to see the game on the schedule. The two programs didn't play each other from 1959-1982. It was until 1995 that CU and CSU resumed an annual matchup.

"Growing up, Colorado and Colorado State didn't really play each other," Embree said. "I always thought that was kind of odd. I think it's special that we play each other every year."

What would make this week even more special, of course, would be if the Buffs could get a win. They beat the Rams 24-3 a year ago, but plenty has changed since then, so CU isn't banking on a win. The Buffs do know a win would be big, though.

"This game is a must-win for us," Hansen said. "We have to win this game. One and two and 0-3 is a big difference."

PLAYING IN Denver: This will be the 11th time in the past 14 years that the Rocky Mountain Showdown will be played in Denver. Saturday's kickoff is slated for 11:30 a.m. at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Every year, the debate comes up about whether the game belongs in Denver, or on the teams' respective campuses.

"I'm a campus guy, but it doesn't really matter to me," Embree said. "The good thing about it being down there, it gives maybe people who don't want to make the drive here to Boulder or Fort Collins the opportunity to come see us play."

The 2009 game was played in Boulder, but the teams haven't met in Fort Collins since 1996.

GETTING A SHOT: Fifth-year senior Sione Tau got his first taste of college football in the season opener at Hawaii, playing special teams against his home-town team.

Last week against Cal, Tau got his first action at the line scrimmage, playing tackle when Jack Harris went down with an injury. The 6-foot-5, 335-pounder was listed as the start at right tackle on the depth chart CU released Tuesday.

"He's come a long way," Embree said. "He's lost 60-something pounds and he's done a great job of maintaining that weight. I know (playing) is important to him. I know he's going to give me great effort, I know he's going to know what to do."

NOTES: This is the first time since 1939 that CU goes into the CSU game a record of 0-2 or worse. ... This is the first time since 1941 that CSU takes a record of 2-0 or better into the CU game. ... CSU is seeking just its third 3-0 start since 1977 (also in 1994 and 2009). ... Embree is hoping to avoid joining Sonny Grandelius, Chuck Fairbanks and Dan Hawkins as the only CU coaches since World War II to start their Buffs coaching careers at 0-3.