FORT COLLINS, Colorado (Ticker) -- Colorado State may have started celebrating too soon.
The Rams survived a scare in which Louisville scored 19 points in a two-minute stretch late in the fourth quarter and held on for a 36-33 victory.
Colorado State (3-1) rebounded from last week's loss to UCLA that dropped it out of the top 25, but not before the Rams nearly squandered a huge lead.
Colorado State took a 36-14 lead on Jeff Babcock's 44-yard field goal with 8:36 remaining in the contest.
Louisville (1-2) drove 84 yards in 12 plays, closing with 36-20 on Dave Ragone's 22-yard TD pass to Joshua Tinch with 4:45 left. The conversion pass failed.
But the Cardinals recovered the onside kick and marched 40 yards on four plays to make it 36-26 on Henry Miller's one-yard TD run with 3:44 to play.
The nightmare stretch for Colorado State continued as the Rams fumbled on the following kickoff. Two plays later, Miller barreled in from the 2 with 3:04 remaining.
Cecil Sapp rushed for 130 yards and three touchdowns for the Rams, including a one-yard plunge that made it 33-14 with 3:12 left in the third quarter.
Bradlee Van Pelt completed 11-of-25 passes for 170 yards with two interceptions for Colorado State.
Ragone was 22-of-41 for 291 yards with an interception, but Louisville was held to just 72 yards on the ground.
The Cardinals grabbed a 14-7 lead on defensive end Dewayne White's 55-yard interception return with 13:51 left in the first half, but the Rams took the lead for good, 14-13, on Sapp's 12-yard TD scamper 4 1/2 minutes later.
Babcock kicked field goals of 37 and 42 yards as Colorado State built a 20-14 halftime lead.