It’s More Than a Football Game; Bragging Rights are at Stake in Border War

Craig Bohl admits he did not initially fully grasp the aura of the Wyoming-Colorado State rivalry.

“There were other rivalry games, traveling trophies, that I’d been a part of,” he said. “The Nebraska-Oklahoma series, which is no longer there, was huge. In North Dakota State we had North Dakota or South Dakota State, but I didn’t get the full gravity until that week of the first game.”

As Bohl prepares for his fifth Border War in the Cowboys debut at Colorado State’s new stadium on Friday night, it is apparent he gets it now,

“Coach Bohl talked about it the other day,” said free safety Andrew Wingard, from Arvada, Colo.. “He told the players from Colorado, `Raise you hand if you had an offer from CSU.’ There was maybe one or two guys. We feel like we need a lot to prove when we play against these guys.”

Now, don’t get the wrong idea. The Cowboys have their trophy for games with Utah State and Hawaii, but they are not like the Bronze Boot and CSU, which is located just 70 miles south of the Wyoming campus. There are, after all, 29 players on the Cowboys roster who are from either Colorado or Wyoming.

“When we play CSU, we don’t feel respected by them,” he said. “A lot of Colorado guys who play here weren’t offered by them. It’s kind of a chip-on-the-shoulder mentality.”

Offered? The assistant coach in charge of recruiting Colorado when Wingard came out of high school was not even allowed to bring Wingard on the Fort Collins campus for a recruiting trip. A CSU apologist recently offered that nobody knew who the three-time All-MW free safety was back then.

Really? His senior year at Ralston Valley, Wingard, after all, was so under the radar he was voted the Colorado High School Player of the year.

Conner Cain, like Wingard, wasn’t approached by CSU when he came out of Heritage High School.

Like Wingard, Cain feels the game is a matter of pride.

“A lot of friends went to CSU, and I run into them,” he said of the importance of the Boot. “We have a lot of pride being from Colorado, but going to this school, playing on this team gives you a different perspective. I am really proud to be a Wyoming Cowboy. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The last two Border Wars have been particularly rewarding for Cain. Two years ago, in their final visit to Hughes Stadium, the Cowboys were so dominant that CSU fans were leaving by halftime, and the CSU cheerleaders spent the fourth quarter trying to lead Wyoming students in fans.

And then last year, in Laramie, a blizzard hit in the second and with the Cowboys trailing 13-9 with less than eight minutes to play, quarterback Josh Allen fumbled the ball away, and to add to his frustration, a CSU defensive back came back when Allen was still on the ground and stepped on his throat.

On the sideline, while CSU was dancing on the other field, holding up their Turnover belt, Allen told his defensive teammates if they held CSU he’d guide the Cowboys to a win. Consider his word good. The Cowboys got the ball back, and in the closing minutes scored the game-winning touchdown.

It was a long way from that 45-31 loss the Cowboys suffered in Bohl’s first Border War on Oct. 25, 2014.

“It was a gut punch,” said Bohl. “We weren’t even close in that game. That left an indelible impression on me that this is a big, big deal.”

The Cowboy did lose again the next year, 26-7, in Mike Bobo’s first year as their head coach.

The last two years, however, the Cowboys have celebrated.

“Coach Bohl made a point that it is a huge game, not only to us but the whole state of Wyoming,” said Cain. “It’s a different game. It’s a different feeling.”

And Bohl hasn’t lost sight of that.

“We’re a sparsely populated state and people choose to have comments about our weather and some of the other elements,” said Bohl. “There’s a great deal of pride for our state to go down and represent ourselves and the institution. To have a traveling trophy like the Bronze Boot is great.

“I underestimated the importance of the game my first year, but since then I’ve personally embraced it.”

29 Colorado/Wyoming Players on the Cowboys Roster

No. Offense No. Defense
----------------------------------- -- ----- ----------------------------------------
Fullback Strong Safeties
34 Jeff Burroughs (6-1, 241, Soph) 28 Andrew Wingard (6-0, 214, Sr)
Yoder, Wyo. Arvada, Colo.
47 Austin Lopez (6-3, 234, Jr.) 3 Alijah Halliburton (6-2, 190, Jr)
Colorado Springs Aurora, Colo.
- 5 Esias Grandy (6-0, 197, Soph)
Wide Receiver (X) Aurora, Colo.
5 Gunner Gentry (6-3, 208, Fr) - -
Aurora, Colo. Free Safetey
- 24 Braden Smith (5-10, 195, Soph)
Wide Receivers (Z) Lakewood, Colo.
25 Austin Conway (5-10, 183, Jr) 2D Cameron Murray (6-1, 170, Fr)
Aurora, Colo. Aurora, Colo.
19 Ayden Eberhardt (6-2, 195, Soph) -
Loveland, Colo. Middle Linebacker
- 30 Logan Wilson (6-2, 250, Jr)
Tight End (Y) Casper, Wyo.
81 Austin Fort (6-4, 244, Sr)
Gillette, Wyo. Linebacker
33 Josh Harshman (6-3, 240, Sr.) 35D Skyler Miller (5-11, 214, Soph)
Casper, Wyo. Torrington, Wyo.
83 Mason Keeler (6-6, 248, RFr) 36 Brennan Kutterer (6-1, 206, RFr)
Broomfield, Colo. Tongue River, Wyo.
- 43 Ben Wisdorfr (6-1, 230, Jr)
Left/Right Tackle Cheyenne, Wyo.
77 Pahl Schwab (6-5, 302, Jr) 48 Chad Muma (6-3, 213, Fr)
Afton, Wyo. Lone Tree, Colo.
Tackle Nose Tackles
75 Frank Crum (6-7, 288, Fr) 87 Conner Cain (6-4, 270, Sr)
Laramie, Wyo. Littleton, Colo.
Left Guard Defensive Ends
65 Zach Watts(6-5, 280, Fr) 42 Kevin Prosser (6-2, 227, Sr)
Eaton, Colo. Aurora, Colo.
- 53 Josiah Hall (6-1, 261, Sr)
Center Colorado Springs, Colo.
73 Keegan Cryder (6-4, 291, RFr)
Littleton, Colo. Place Kicker
- 40 Cooper Rothe (5-11, 178, Jr)
Right Guard Longmont, Colo.
65 Logan Harris (6-3, 304, So)
Torrington, Wyo.
64 Zach Thatcher (6-5, 288, So)
Pueblo, Colo.
74 Blayne Baker (6-5, 260, Fr)
Sheridan, Wyo.
Tracy RingolsbyComment