Dave Walsh: For Wyoming Football, Nothing’s More Special Than A Border War Win

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By Dave Walsh, Columnist

The Cowboys will play their third trophy game in a row tomorrow evening in Fort Collins. The Pokes now have possession of all three of the coveted prizes. And keeping the Bronze Boot, after already securing Bridger’s Rifle and the Paniolo Trophy, is important to this Cowboy team.

The game is so important for so many other reasons too. It’s a conference game for a Wyoming team that is very much involved in the chase for a Mountain West regular season championship.

Oh yes, it’s also the Border War.

This annual backyard brawl is special for any and all Cowboy football players, dating back more than a century. The first time the Cowboys and Rams met on a football field was in 1899! Tomorrow’s game will be the 114th Border War, and they’ll play for the 77th year in a row. The only thing that has kept these two from playing the yearly blood feud was World War II.

Wyoming and Colorado State are each other’s longest and biggest rival. 

And for all of those reasons, the Border War, the Wyoming-CSU football game, is automatically very interesting. It’s also very much anticipated, maybe the most of any, by the players and coaches, and certainly the fans. 

That goes for both sides, which makes this game a tad more physical and emotional than the others. 

I’ve had the privilege to witness, in person, the last 38 Border Wars. Tomorrow’s Wyoming-Colorado State game will be the first I have not broadcast since 1983. And each and every one of those broadcasts, all circled on the season calendar, were special. 

It was the Wyoming-CSU football game. It was the Border War!

Now it is true that some were more “special” than others. At least to this Cowboy announcer/fan, there were some that were more enjoyable than others. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. I remember and relish the Wyoming Border War victories so much more than the “non-wins.”

Some of the big Cowboy Border War triumphs happened in War Memorial Stadium, generally in front of one the biggest crowds of the year. There were other big wins in the series for the Pokes in Fort Collins.

The Wyoming win in 1996 was one of those. 

The Pokes were 9-1 and ranked 23rd in the country by the Associated Press going into the final regular season game on the schedule. Wyoming versus arch-rival Colorado State, in Fort Collins. The Cowboys came from behind and outscored the Rams 12-0 in the fourth quarter for a 25-24 victory. 

That win sent the 10-1, 22nd-ranked Cowboys to the very first Western Athletic Conference Championship game. The Pokes would lose in overtime in Las Vegas to BYU in that game.

One of the most memorable Border War road wins for the Cowboys came just four seasons ago. I’ll not forget the first Border War to be played in CSU’s brand-spanking-new Canvas Stadium in 2018. Wyoming had beaten Colorado State just two seasons earlier in Hughes Stadium, but this win in Fort Collins, in the Rams new digs, seemed a bit sweeter.

The backyard brawl kicked off at 8 p.m. It was a typical hard-fought, physical first half. Cooper Rothe’s 30-yard field goal was the only score and it was 3-0 for Wyoming at halftime.

Then came the second half, and the Cowboys took charge. Nico Evans would score on two long runs and Sean Chambers ran one in for a touchdown. Those three touchdowns came in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and the Cowboys had a 24-0 lead. 

The Rams would try to fight back, but when Chambers hit Tyree Mayfield from 43 yards out with less than 8 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys had built a 34-14 lead.

And from the press box in brand-spanking-new Canvas Stadium one could see the long lines of taillights in the parking lot. CSU fans were outta there, and there was still half of the fourth quarter to play. The Cowboys would win the game 34-21.

And one would be hard-pressed to come up with a bigger Border War home victory than the one the Pokes hung on the Rams in War Memorial Stadium in 2010.

It was the last regular season game of the year for the Cowboys. The Pokes were finishing-up a very difficult year, coming into the game on a six-game losing streak and 2-9 record – and the challenge of facing an arch-rival.

The Cowboys rolled to an incredible 44-0 victory, and it wasn’t that close!

Alvester Alexander would run for five touchdowns, and the Cowboy defense didn’t give an inch. In this particular case, the score was very much indicative as to how the game went. 

And it was the perfect example of how you just never know what might happen in a rivalry game like the Border War.

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