DENVER (AP) — Jim McElwain deflected the praise to his players, who had better enjoy it because they'll soon feel his wrath again anyway.
McElwain became the first Colorado State coach to win his debut in 42 years Saturday when the Rams rallied past their arch rival for a 22-17 win over the Colorado Buffaloes.
"The guys that are here are real guys and I'm just really proud of them. I've asked so much of them and it's just great for our fans and Fort Collins," McElwain said. "I'm excited for them, this doesn't have anything to do with me. It's one game.
"We have not arrived yet, and by the time I get done with them in film session, they're going to understand that. We've got a long way to go. All that it means is that we've won one game."
What a win it was.
Garret Grayson completed 14 of 21 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns and Jared Roberts kicked two fourth-quarter field goals after the Rams had fallen behind 17-16.
Grayson outdueled Kansas transfer Jordan Webb, who was 22 of 41 for 187 yards and two TDs for the Buffaloes.
McElwain, the former offensive coordinator at defending national champion Alabama, became the first Rams coach to win his debut since Jerry Wampfler in 1970. None of other 12 Rams coaches who have faced Colorado had ever beaten the Buffs on their first try.
Will Oliver's 30-yard field goal put the Buffaloes ahead 17-16 early in the fourth quarter, but Roberts hit from 48 yards out with 6:39 left to put the Rams back on top, 19-17.
After the Buffs went three-and-out, the Rams had to salt this one away with backups because tailback Chris Nwoke (ankle) was on the sideline.
Freshman Donnell Alexander took off on a 37-yard run, and Terrel Smith's face mask penalty tacked on another 15 yards. But the Buffs stood their ground, forcing the Rams to settle for another field goal, this one from 32 yards out with 2:56 remaining.
Strong safety Trent Matthews' game-sealing interception was nullified by Lanston Tanyi's roughing penalty, and the Buffaloes had a first down at the Rams 47 with 1:27 left.
They turned the ball over on downs 40 seconds later.
The Rams thought they had a 100-yard fumble return for a touchdown by defensive back Austin Gray, but after the celebratory cannon fired, the officials ruled Malcolm Creer was down before the ball popped out.