Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts and Super Bowl 2012, will be the Albany State football team’s home field this weekend when the Rams travel 12 hours north to play a home game against Kentucky State in the 28th annual Circle City Classic — marking the second furthest site the program has ever played a game.
ALBANY -- Albany State receiver Octavius Staton's packing list for his trip to Indianapolis is pretty standard: cleats, shoulder pads, gloves, helmet and uniform.
He's also bringing a camera.
"Before the game, I'm gonna take a whole lot of pictures," Staton said Tuesday at practice. "I'm gonna look around and see what it feels like if I was in the NFL."
WHO: Albany St. (3-1, 1-0) vs. Kentucky State (3-1, 0-0).
WHAT: 28th annual Circle City Classic; Rams' 5th game of the season, second in the SIAC.
WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
FOLLOW THE GAME ONLINE: twitter.com/AlbHeraldSports.
Albany State will play in Saturday's 28th annual Circle City Classic against Kentucky State at Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts. After Tuesday's practice, several Rams talked about how excited they are to play in a stadium that seats 63,000 and will be host to the 2012 Super Bowl. The only larger venue the Rams have ever played at was in 2002, when they faced Morehouse at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego (capacity 71,500).
"I'll probably try to jump in some of Octavius' pictures," defensive back Jamarkus Gaskins joked.
For ASU coach Mike White, who played in the NFL for five years with the Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks, the trip is all business. So when the team arrives in Indy on Friday morning after a 12-hour bus ride, White said he is going to let the Rams get their sight-seeing out of the way early.
"We are going to walk around (Lucas Oil) and experience being there and how excited everybody is going to be," said White, who played against the Colts when they were in Baltimore. "But when the kickoff happens, we will (be focused)."
Staton, who will be playing in the biggest stadium in his life -- like most of the other Rams -- said he understands he needs to focus once game day arrives.
"It's like a field trip/business trip," Staton said. "We have to put the business trip first."
ASU defensive backs coach Dan Land played in the NFL for 10 years with the Oakland Raiders and played against the Colts in Indianapolis once. But that game in Indy was at the now-demolished RCA Dome, and Land said he believes the Rams will be able to handle the bright lights of Lucas Oil -- a far bigger stage.
"They are aware what they are going into, and they are used to playing in front of a crowd," Land said. "I don't think it is going to bother them too much. The biggest thing we are trying to do is focus on Albany State. If we do that, we will be fine. We don't want to get caught up in the hype. We just want to play Albany State football."
But it's hard not to get caught up in at least some of the hype.
Indianapolis is jam-packed with festivities surrounding the 28th annual classic, including parades, concerts and rallies.
It will also be the third-longest trip in the history of the ASU football program. The farthest, of course, was to San Diego in 2002, while the second-longest was against Alabama A&M University at Eastern Michigan University in 1993. The Rams won both of those games.
And while Lucas Oil Stadium -- nicknamed "The Luke" -- isn't technically indoors (it has a retractable roof) -- it will be the Rams' first-ever game in program history at a dome-like building. In the case of the Colts, it's the home team's decision whether or not to have the roof open or closed during the game -- depending on the weather -- and White laughed Tuesday when asked if he'd made his choice because it's technically a home game for the Rams.
"I don't know if I have the same weight on that decision, but (the players) will be excited whatever way it is," White said.
White then added: "When I played the (Baltimore) Colts, there were rocks on the field. That's not an exaggeration. There were actually rocks on the field."
While Staton plans to take some pictures of the long drive up, senior defensive back Rashad McRae said he will bring his video camera.
"I'm going to be doing the recording; (Staton) will be taking the pictures," McRae said. "It's just a good experience."
McRae then added: "Once the game starts, it's strictly football. All of the outside stuff doesn't matter. We can handle the big stage. It's all about taking care of business, and we know that going up there."
Several of the Rams have played before in NFL stadiums in high school state championships, like junior running back and Washington D.C. native Nathan Hoyte, who played a prep championship game in the Baltimore Ravens' M&T Bank Stadium.
"It was exciting," Hoyte said of the game in Baltimore. "It was my first time playing in any professional stadium. It's a different atmosphere. Your crowd doesn't fill it up. That's about the only thing you can run into."
Gaskins doesn't believe the empty seats will bother him because of the presence of the ASU band, which is also leaving Thursday for Indy.
"Once that ball snaps, it's just football," Gaskins said. "You don't really pay attention to anything but the game. As long as we have a band, we will be OK."
Hoyte and Demonte Queen are both from Maryland and are able to play a little closer to home than usual. No one on ASU's roster is actually from Indiana.
"It's really cool, getting the experience to play in a real, live NFL stadium and get in front of a large crowd," Queen said.