FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) -- Colorado State coach Steve Fairchild is prepared to pony up for a partisan crowd.
With the Rams hosting fifth-ranked TCU in the Mountain West Conference opener for both schools Saturday, Fairchild has pledged to donate 10 cents for every fan who fills a seat at Hughes Stadium.
It's a chance to help a local food bank and possibly rustle up a raucous crowd for a game against one of the elite teams in the country.
"At TCU, you get the opinion that they don't want to be just a good program; they want to win a national championship, and that's what we aspire to do here is be a program like that," said Fairchild, whose team snapped a 12-game skid last weekend against Idaho. "They're up and running."
And possibly out to make a point.
The Frogs (4-0) beat SMU by 17 points last week, only to drop a spot in the AP poll. They're heavily favored against CSU (1-3) and can't afford to just win; they need to win big to prove they're worthy of the national championship debate.
That runs contrary to coach Gary Patterson's philosophy. He doesn't believe in style points, just getting the job done.
Boise State's Chris Petersen, the coach of the other potential BCS buster, feels the same way.
"I think Chris Petersen said it best: We're just trying to be the best football team we can be," said Patterson, whose team is embarking on their first trip outside the state of Texas this season. "If we keep winning and we keep building our program, someday we'll get a chance to play at the top of that pyramid, if we're deserving."
TCU enters the league opener with a high-powered offense led by senior Andy Dalton, the nation's active leader in wins by a quarterback with 33, four more than Boise State's Kellen Moore.
Dalton's experience makes him a handful for a CSU defense giving up 35 points a game.
"He can throw and run, so he gives them a couple dimensions back there," Fairchild said. "He's surrounded by awfully talented football players."
In every phase, too.
The Frogs boast one of the top pass defenses in the country and one of the elite returners in Jeremy Kerley, who's averaging 171 all-purpose yards a game.
"We better get ready to play or we're not going to get to win No. 5 as early as we'd like to," said Patterson, whose team takes a 17-game regular season winning streak into the contest Saturday.
CSU is coming off their first win in more than a year. The team knocked off Idaho 36-34 when kicker Ben DeLine connected on a 35-yard field goal as time expired.
Freshman quarterback Pete Thomas led the Rams on that game-winning drive, and junior Raymond Carter finished with more than 100 yards rushing and receiving, becoming the first CSU player to accomplish that feat since Lawrence McCutcheon nearly 40 years ago.
"They have some young players, especially on offense, but every week they've gotten better," Patterson said.
The Rams will be playing with heavy hearts Saturday, holding a moment of silence for Anthony Cesario, a former offensive lineman for CSU who died a week ago of possible heart-related issues after finishing up a day of hunting near Steamboat Springs, Colo. He was 34.
It's the second member of the Rams family to pass away this year. On April 20, former CSU tight end and Colorado Rockies president Keli McGregor died while on a business trip in Salt Lake City. The family of the 48-year-old has said he died from a rare virus that attacked his heart.
AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins in Fort Worth, Texas, contributed to this report.
Top 25 Overview
Much like Boise State, TCU enters league play hoping to maintain its momentum toward another unbeaten season, beginning with its visit to Colorado State. Last week, SMU made the Horned Frogs uncomfortable for much of their Friday night matchup and the Mustangs might have even made them nervous after taking an early second-half lead. But they couldn't withstand the inevitable TCU push late.