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Strange Foes is the Whole Point: CSU Faces Kentucky in Mint City Bowl

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Strange Foes is the Whole Point: CSU Faces Kentucky in Mint City Bowl

Kentucky takes on Colorado State in the Mint City Bowl on Saturday.

The concept of the Bowl Game continues to have legs and it's the attraction of playing unfamiliar opposition that makes it special.

This coming weekend at the CRAA Fall Classic there will be two Bowl Games, with Kentucky facing Colorado State in the Mint City Bowl in one of them. 

Fun Fact: Charlotte, NC, the host city of the Fall Classic, is called the Mint City because it was the home of the first branch of the US Mint (branching out from the original Mint in Philadelphia), opened in 1838. 

Colorado State battled through a tough Rocky Mountain Conference fall under new Head Coach Jone Naqica. They logged wins over Wyoming, Utah State, North Texas but dropped their first three decisions, to BYU, Air Force, and Colorado.

"Starting off against BYU showed the standard for us," said Naqica, former USA 7s captain. "That was an eye-opener for the players and for me also. But we progressed after that and improved every game. The important thing is we held ourselves together."

The players are excited to play, added Naqica, if only to get out of Fort Collins and take a trip to the East Coast.

"To play someone we don't know and don't see, we can't wait," said the coach.

Leading the way for CSU is Sam Masterson, the flyhalf who was coached by Naqica when he was in the EIRA program in high school. He has grown, physically and in terms of rugby knowledge, and Naqica said "he's put in the work to make himself better."

Daniel Trump, who plays in the back row or at center, leads by example and the young players feed off his intensity and effort level. And Mason Kreiter in the back row is a bull in a china shop. Prop Trice Scroggins, hooker Ryaln Palmer, and lock Aiden Wilson have continued to develop.

The Rams will take on a Kentucky Wildcats team that went 4-0 in SCRC action and has shown continued improvement, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

"I don't know if Kentucky has ever played Colorado State so it's a good opportunity for us to have a game out of the region," said Head Coach Sam Enari. "We have had ample rest since our last game vs Ohio State. A big break comes with its own risks of complacency.  It also has allowed us to get healthy and add to our arsenal."

The Wildcats have worked hard on their fundamentals and look to play an open, exciting game. With CSU coming to sea level from altitude, the Rams are expected to have endurance, so Kentucky has been working to match them.

"We will find out Saturday if there has been enough focus [on fitness]," said Enari. "With a strong bench, we are confident in our chances but nothing is ever given. Jone has done a great job at CSU and we agreed to trade film so that both teams can be as prepared as possible to put on a good game for all who watch.  Both teams are not afraid of the wide channels, have good kickers, and a plethora of weapons, and are willing ball runners.  CSU's mobile pack is something we will be watching."

The Mint City Bowl will be held on Saturday at 3PM ET and will be broadcast live on The Rugby Network

Also on the slate on Saturday will be:

D1 Elite Final: Life vs Lindenwood 1PM ET
D1 Women CRAA Fall Championship: Navy vs Utah State 5PM ET
Hornets Nest Bowl: Ohio State vs Penn State 7PM ET