Border War key to the game; along with notes, quotes and video

Here is WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi’s top key to the game for the Wyoming Cowboys in their Border War game against Colorado State, which kicks off at 5 p.m. today at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Communication: Talking about Wyoming’s defense. With two of its most important starters out with injuries — free safety Darrenn White and outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha — and possibly two other starters (senior defensive end Sonny Puletasi and senior cornerback DeAndre Jones). It is vital the Cowboys know what they are doing against a high-powered Colorado State offense that will use a lot of shifts and motions at the line of scrimmage to set up mismatches.

Gagliardi and WyoSports editor Scott Nulph preview today’s game on their weekly video blog:

This game over the years always has featured players and coaches with ties to both schools.

UW lists 20 players from Colorado on its roster, and 13 have starting experience. Many of them know CSU players going back to when they were in high school. Some were recruited by both schools, others were shunned by Colorado State.

UW senior defensive end Riley Lange, who is from Parker, Colorado, talks about that this week:

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Border War live chat – 4:45 p.m. today

Join WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi for his live chat from the 106th Border War football game between the University of Wyoming and Colorado State at 4:45 p.m. today — 15 minutes prior to kickoff — from Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The Cowboys (3-4 overall, 1-2 Mountain West) will try to snap a three-game losing streak, and play at Colorado State (6-1, 2-1) for the first time since 2011.

Live Blog Wyoming-Colorado State football live chat


 

Fans share their favorite Border War memories

Fans — both from Wyoming and Colorado State — respond to a question posted on this blog on their favorite Border War football memories.

The 106th Border War will be played at 5 p.m. Saturday at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins.

–Bramlet to Floyd on a 50-yard touchdown pass to seal the win in 2003. Pokes were struggling under first-year head coach Joe Glenn, but wins against CSU and BYU that year at home provided a huge lift for the fans. –Mark Krug

–The first one I thought of was a blowout in what was a down year for both teams, 44-0 Cowboys in 2010. The most satisfying end to a 3-9 season that I think you could have. Just felt great after that game. — Adam

–Favorite was “The Drive” Wallwork/Harris in 1996. Cold as hell! I just remember that once we punched in the final touchdown by RB Marques Brigham and how excited everyone was. The cold didn’t matter then. 25-24 POKES! — Todd

–I agree! it was at CSU and CSU wanted nothing more than to be a spoiler to the Pokes great season. What a way to come through in the clutch and in terrible weather. It was such an in-justice that a Pokes team that finished 10-2 and a top 20 ranking did not get invited to a bowl game. — A. Usher

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Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 9

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his weekly installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks for Week 9 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Colorado State (6-1 overall, 2-1 MW): The Rams remain at the top having won five in a row. They are second in the MW in scoring offense (31 ppg) and scoring defense (21.4 ppg). Once again, the most complete team in the league right now. This week: vs. Wyoming, 5 p.m. MT Saturday (ROOT). The Rams should keep rolling in the 106th Border War. Colorado State 38, Wyoming 20.

2. Boise State (5-2, 3-1): The Broncos are ahead of the Rams in the Mountain Division by a half-game, and based on their win over CSU back in early September. Boise State has the league’s best offense in terms of scoring (32 ppg) and yards (485 ypg). The team also is about as healthy physically since the start of the season, so look out. This week: vs. Brigham Young, 7 p.m. MT Friday (ESPN). Boise State is 42-12 in non-Saturday games and 21-5 on Fridays. Boise State 34, BYU 17.

3. San Diego State (4-3, 2-1): The Aztecs move up two spots because they seem to have found their identity — give the football to sophomore running back Donnel Pumphrey and play good defense. The Aztecs are the only team in the league that allows fewer than 20 points per game (18.7) and Pumphrey is seventh nationally in rushing (141.3 ypg). This week: Off.

4. Utah State (4-3, 1-1): A drop of two spots after a narrow 16-13 loss at Colorado State. The Aggies lost another quarterback in Darrel Garretson, and now are down to their No. 3 guy. But the defense continues to shine and there are enough good players on the team where the quarterback won’t have to do too much … at least not this week. This week: vs. UNLV, 2 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPNews). The Aggies will ride their defense and get a handful of plays from the offense to win. Utah State 27, UNLV 13.

5. Air Force (5-2, 2-2): A narrow home win over New Mexico last week was closer than many expected, but a win is a win. The defense continues to play well. Just a solid team that no one will want to play down the stretch. This week: Off.

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UW sports live chat replay – Thursday, Oct. 23

Here’s the replay of WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi’s weekly live chat on University of Wyoming sports on Thursday, Oct. 23.

Lot’s of spirited talk about UW football, as it will try to snap its three-game losing streak at Border War rival Colorado State Saturday. Also some UW men’s basketball talk.

Gagliardi will host a live chat from the UW-CSU football game starting at 4:45 p.m. Saturday. Check back to this blog and wyosports.net for the link later this week.

Live Blog University of Wyoming sports live chat

UW football recruiting update – 2015 verbal commitments

Here is an updated list of verbal commitments for the 2015 University of Wyoming football recruiting class.

Links to highlight videos of these players are included.

WR/DB Dameko Doddles, 6-2, 185, Douglass HS, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Three-star rating out of five, and the 15th-ranked recruit in the state by Rivals.com. Also had a scholarship offer from TCU.

Video link: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2667019/highlights/103434614

DB/KR/WR Davion Freeman, 5-10, 160, Del City HS, Del City, Oklahoma. Two-star rating by Rivals.com and 247sports.com, including being ranked as the 30th best player in the state by 247sports.com. The Oklahoman newspaper had Freeman No. 14 in their Super 30 rankings prior to the season. Had scholarship offers by Arkansas State, New Mexico, New Mexico State and North Texas.

Video link: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2205663/davion-freeman

DT Youhanna Ghaifen, 6-3, 248, Grand Island Central Catholic HS, Grand Island, Nebraska. Two-star rating by Rivals.com.

Video link: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1702096/youhanna-gaifhan

OL Kaden Jackson, 6-2, 270, Kingfisher HS, Kingfisher, Oklahoma. Two-star rating by Rivals.com. Scholarship offers from New Mexico, UTEP, North Texas, Ohio and Sam Houston State.

Video link: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1937149/kaden-jackson

WR C.J. Johnson, 6-2, 181, West HS, Bellevue, Nebraska. Three-star recruit, second-ranked recruit in Nebraska and 75th-best wide receiver recruit in the nation by Rivals.com. Six other scholarship offers, including Ohio and Western Michigan. Been timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.42 seconds.

Video link: http://www.hudl.com/athlete/1290134/cj-johnson

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Rufran humble about reception streak

Wyoming senior receiver Dominic Rufran is one of the most humble players on the team, and has been one of the more humble guys in the program the last four years.

Dominic Rufran

Dominic Rufran

With a catch in Saturday’s 106th Border War game at Colorado State, Rufran will be the nation’s leader among active players with a catch in 45 consecutive games. For Rufran, that would mark every game of his Cowboys’ career.

“As of now in the middle of the season, it doesn’t mean a whole lot to me,” Rufran said. “At the end of the season it may be more important to me at that time, and something to look back on and be proud of.”

Rufran will pass Boise State senior receiver Matt Miller if he catches a pass against Colorado State. Miller had been ahead of Rufran all season before being sidelined with a season-ending ankle injuries a couple of weeks ago.

There is a little irony here. If Rufran continues to catch passes in games, he will break Jovon Bouknight’s school-record of 47 straight games with at least one catch on Nov. 22 at home against Boise State.

During his current streak, Rufran has caught only one pass in five games, and three of those were as a true freshman in 2011. His two catches in last week’s 27-20 overtime loss to San Jose State was a season-low. Rufran has caught four or more passes in 16 of his last 19 games dating back to last season.

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Nzeocha latest to go down with season-ending injury

The news was expected, but still bad nonetheless.

Mark Nzeocha

Mark Nzeocha

Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl said prior to Tuesday’s practice that senior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha is “extremely doubtful” to be back this season because of a knee injury suffered in the first half in last Saturday’s 27-20 overtime loss to San Jose State.

Nzeocha leads UW with 59 tackles, and also was one of the team’s better players on special teams.

“Mark played critical roles on the punt team and the kickoff coverage team, and we view all those things as critical as well,” Bohl said. “When all those defensive starters get hurt, typically there’s a residual effect that comes on special teams. We are preparing for that right now.”

Nzeocha joins senior free safety and co-captain Darrenn White as defensive starters lost due to knee injuries. And, you can make a strong point that both guys are the two most important players on UW’s defense this season.

Nzeocha is a four-down linebacker who is good against the run and the pass. He played middle linebacker in nickel situations this season. White was the quarterback of the defense making calls and also making sure guys were lined up right.

The two combined for 101 tackles, six pass break-ups, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles.

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Bohl to see much improved Colorado State team Saturday

On Sept. 8, 2012, coach Craig Bohl took his North Dakota State team into Colorado State and beat the Rams 22-7.

That was the second game for then first-year Colorado State coach Jim McElwain, and the first of six straight losses for the Rams as they finished 4-8.

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

A little more than two years later, Bohl will take another team to Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins. This time as the first-year coach at Wyoming. While some of the Rams’ players and coaches will be the same, Colorado State is a much different squad.

Different in the fact that it is the hottest team in the Mountain West. The Rams have won five straight games, are 6-1 overall and 2-1 in the conference and became the first bowl-eligible team in the MW after its 16-13 home win over Utah State last week. The Rams also have won 12 of their last 15 games dating back to last season.

“They’ve made great strides with the program and it will be a big challenge,” said Bohl during his Monday news conference.

“You look at their quarterback and (senior Garrett) Grayson’s a guy who’s played an awful lot of football; he’s got 27 starts. He’s throwing the football well and he’s got a great touchdown-to-interception ratio (16 touchdowns, five interceptions). He’s operated the offense very well and I’ve seen significant improvement in him personally the last couple of years.

“While they replaced an awful lot of offensive linemen, they’re playing well as a group together. And they got good skilled players. On defense they have a strong conviction in their scheme and what they’re doing. Probably their strongest part of their whole football team is their special teams. When you put all three of those phases together, you’ve got a solid football team that’s well coached and that’s why they’re receiving top 25 votes.”

Here is video of Bohl’s news conference from Monday:

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Wanted: Your favorite Border War memories

It’s Border War week as Wyoming and Colorado State will play football for the 106th time Saturday in Fort Collins.

A lot of games over a lot of years, and WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi wants to know your favorite, or even not-so-favorite, Border War memories.

At the end of the week, Gagliardi will post all those memories back here on this blog. So come on folks, I know you have many of them.