Border War: Wyoming vs. Colorado State pregame primer

For the 109th time, and 50th since the Bronze Boot traveling trophy was introduced, Wyoming and Colorado State play a football game Saturday. Kickoff is at 5 p.m. at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium, and the game is televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.

Here is my top key to the game for the Cowboys.

Nick Stevens

Keep it up: Meaning Wyoming’s defense must continue to do what it has done over the first eight games — force a nation’s best 24 turnovers and hold teams to 19.2 points per game. The Cowboys, at very least, need to win the turnover battle. The lone game this season where they didn’t force a turnover they lost at Boise State. Colorado State leads the Mountain West in passing offense, total offense and is second in scoring offense, and also is fourth in the nation in converting third downs into first downs. UW won’t completely shut down this offense, but when the opportunities are there, it must get off the field and create some turnovers. A good start will be to pressure Rams senior quarterback Nick Stevens and not allow him to get into a rhythm.

Some notes and quotes about this game:

Josh Allen

— “It’s huge for the state and the people who live here. A lot of our players are Colorado natives. A lot is riding on this game and where the standings are. We are still in a spot to play in the Mountain West championship game. This rivalry has gone on for a long time. These schools don’t like each other. It’s a fun game to play in. Fans get involved through the course of the week. It’s a tough game, and we want to keep that Bronze Boot in our locker room.” — UW junior quarterback Josh Allen.

— “It’s amazing. Being a Colorado kid playing in Laramie and having that rivalry is always fun. I look forward to this game every year. I can’t wait to play them here. I am excited to hoist that trophy on our home field in front of our fans once the game clock ends.” — UW senior fullback/long snapper Drew Van Maanen.

— Hope this isn’t a jinx, but UW (5-3 overall, 3-1 MW) is seeking its fourth straight home victory, and has won 11 of its last 13 at War Memorial Stadium. A win also would make the Cowboys bowl eligible, and they haven’t played in back-to-back bowl games since 1987-88. UW also had consecutive winning seasons since 1998-99.

— UW leads the nation with 24 turnovers forced and a turnover margin of plus-16. It has scored 78 points off those turnovers.

Craig Bohl

— “One of the very first groups, and the group I pay attention to more than any other, is the group of former players. To them, this is a big, big deal and a big, big ball game, which makes it a big game for us. I’ve talked to former players from both teams going back to the 1950s so I immediately found how how important this game is.” — Fourth-year UW coach Craig Bohl on the Border War rivalry with Colorado State.

— “We’re not doing that. That’s not going to happen. I don’t think we need a trophy to get our guys going after the football.” — Bohl when asked this week about other college teams having belts/trophies for players when the force turnovers.

— Want to talk contrast? Colorado State enters the game 13th among all Football Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense at 499 yards per game. UW is 127th at 281.9. There are 129 FBS teams this year.

— A few Border War moments courtesy of Colorado State’s game notes and from John Hirn of ColoradoAggies.com: The first game was played on Thanksgiving Day, 1899. The game ended in a forfeit, and CSU does not count forfeits in its all-time records. Colorado State claims it was a forfeit win for the Rams. UW’s media guide shows it as a loss, but Laramie newspaper accounts from the game had the Cowboys winning. … Games in 1949 and 1958 at Colorado State nearly had riots from both fans. … The 1924 game was not played because Wyoming governor William Ross died the week of the game.

Mike Bobo

— “The No. 1 thing I see on Wyoming defensively is the effort of all 11 guys. There are multiple guys at the ball every play. They don’t take plays off. They’re all very good tacklers. The two safeties (juniors Andrew Wingard and Marcus Epps) are good tacklers and have unbelievable instincts. They’re playing with confidence. They don’t believe you can run or throw the ball on them.” — Colorado State coach Mike Bobo.

See Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, or log on to wyosports.net, as I have a cool look back at some of the top games between UW and Colorado State in the Bronze Boot portion of the rivalry. UW also will face one of the best quarterback-wide receiver duos in the country this season in Stevens and senior wide receiver Michael Gallup.