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CSU football hosts Minnesota

Kivon Cartwright returned to the Rams’ lineup form an injury in their season opener against Savannah State. Now CSU will face Minnesota.

Mike Bobo hosted a small gathering to celebrate his first win as the head coach at Colorado State, with 40 or so friends and family members showing up at his doorstep.

He also received congratulatory calls from colleagues around the country and his mentor, Georgia head coach Mark Richt.

But the elation of a 65-13 win over Savannah State last weekend quickly subsided when he watched video of the Minnesota team the Rams host on Saturday.

“You realize what you have in store,” Bobo said, “and forget about that day.”

The Gophers (0-1) are big, physical and a little cranky after a 23-17 season-opening loss to No. 3 TCU. Minnesota enters the game as a five-point favorite, even though Colorado State (1-0) went undefeated at Hughes Stadium last season.

“If we aren’t ready for 60 minutes of giving everything we have on every snap, there will be some bad things that happen in this game,” said Bobo, the longtime assistant at Georgia who took over the program when Jim McElwain left for Florida. “You have to picture yourself making the good plays.”

Minnesota had a good showing against the Horned Frogs, especially on defense, where the Gophers contained explosive quarterback Trevone Boykin about as well as you can these days (he still had 338 total yards). It’s an experienced group that features some NFL prospects in the secondary.

“We learned that our kids play hard and they played fast and they busted their tail end and had a lot of fun doing it,” Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said.

This will be the first time Colorado State hosts a team from a Power 5 conference since No. 10 Cal visited in 2007. Going back to the venue’s opening in 1968, only 10 schools currently part of the Power 5 have played non-conference games at Hughes.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Minnesota this week or if it’s the Denver Broncos: We have to have the same plan, the same process of trying to get better every day and control what we can control,” Bobo said.

Here are things to know when Minnesota visits Colorado State on Saturday:

RUNNING RODNEY: Freshman running back Rodney Smith got the ball quite a bit down the stretch against TCU after senior Rodrick Williams started. Smith finished with 88 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, putting himself on track to be the featured ball carrier moving forward. “He’s the only back I’ve had in a long time that played 46 plays and he graded out perfect,” Kill said. “So I’d say he needs to play more.”

QB TALK: Asked about the play of quarterback Mitch Leidner against TCU, Kill responded: “When we don’t win, there’s two guys going to be critical all the time – head football coach and the quarterback, so that’s my answer to that. When we win, quarterback and head coach get a lot of credit. We lose, head coach ought to be fired; quarterback ought to be fired. Is that right? That’s the way it is.”

HIGHER GROUND: At around 5,000 feet in elevation, Fort Collins can be a difficult place for opposing players to catch their breath. “What I’ve been told, you do one of two things: You go out and stay a week or you get out there and you don’t stay longer than 24 hours,” Kill said. “We’ll take the shorter route and not talk about it.”

POSSIBLE HISTORY: If the Rams were to win Saturday, Bobo would become just the third Colorado State coach to start 2-0, joining Julius “Hans” Wagner in 1942 and Bob Davis in ‘47.

HIGGINS WATCH: The Gophers will keep a close eye on receiver Rashard Higgins, who had seven catches for 84 yards and one score in limited action last weekend. “Higgins is one of the best receivers in the country,” Kill said. “I think that’s well-known.”

AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell contributed to this report.

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