NOTEBOOK: Cougs lose 'game show' to CSU

ALBUQUERQUE–Washington State and Colorado State football players say learning to compete harder is one of the most valuable lessons they have learned from their second-year coaching staffs. Before the Cougars and Rams bang helmets in the New Mexico Bowl, representatives of both teams competed fiercely, enthusiastically and loudly for nearly an hour in a seemingly trivial question-and-answer game.

Not that the teams treated the game as anything remotely trivial on Thursday night.

Pitted against one another in a national touring show called "Survey Says" – similar to the television game show "Family Feud" – players, coaches and other staff members found themselves standing, shouting, crowding around the stage and waving napkins in the air in celebration of correct answers.

For those scoring at home, Colorado State won. Emcee Gus Davis announced at the start of the show that all five previous winners of the Albuquerque shows – including Colorado State in 2008 -- went on to win the New Mexico Bowl.

Afterwards, Davis admitted he's only "90 percent sure" of the win-win scenario for all five years.

Answers, based on the most popular responses in a survey of 100 people around the United States, were sought for a dozen questions ranging from sports (favorite sport for 10-year-olds) to dining (favorite Italian foods) to relationships (things parents yell at you for) to fantasies (things you need to have to be the next Hugh Hefner).

One would have thought a bowl championship was on the line, based on the actions of many players. Obviously, the show was a welcome break from the pressure and demands of football.

The show was held in a giant banquet room in the Albuquerque Convention Center following a buffet-style barbecue dinner. Massive amounts of liquids were consumed by both teams, though the piles of cookies seemed to attract few players besides linemen.

Both teams arrived in warm-up outfits – black for the Cougars, green for the Rams. Video highlights for both teams were shown on giant screens, followed by a series of the popular ESPN commercials featuring network personalities and various "co-stars." ESPN owns and operates the New Mexico Bowl.

The Cougars announced they had sold 4,570 tickets as of late Thursday night.

The game may draw in the neighborhood of 30,000 fans at the University of New Mexico's University Stadium. A number of local residents, upon learning that a stranger is in town for the bowl, have asked, "Who's playing?"

"New Mexico, we're not really into football," a barber explained. "Now basketball, we love basketball."

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