For the 108th time, the Wyoming Cowboys and Colorado State Rams will face off against one another on the football field as this year’s meeting will kick off on Saturday at 8:15 p.m. in Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colo. Both teams will enter the game with 2-2 records on the season in what will be the Mountain West Conference opener for both teams.
The game will be televised live on ESPNU and will be broadcast on radio over the Cowboy Sports Network. The radio pregame show will go on the air at 7 p.m. this Saturday. The game will also be available on WatchESPN and the ESPN app.
This year’s meeting will be the 49th time the two Front Range rivals will battle for the Bronze Boot traveling trophy. Each team has possessed the Bronze Boot 24 times since the trophy was introduced into the series in 1968. This year’s game will also mark the 71st consecutive season that UW and CSU will play in football. The game has been played every year since 1946 and during the past 70 seasons Wyoming has won 39 times to Colorado State’s 31. CSU leads the overall series with 58 wins to UW’s 44 victories. There have been five ties in the history of the Border War series.
A similarity that both teams share entering this season are young quarterbacks. Wyoming’s Josh Allen, will be making his fifth start of the 2016 season and his sixth career start on Saturday. CSU’s true freshman Collin Hill will be starting his third consecutive game this week.
Allen is emerging as one of the top quarterbacks in the Mountain West Conference in 2016. He ranks among league leaders in numerous statistical categories. Allen was named the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Cowboys to a 40-34 triple overtime win against Northern Illinois in the 2016 season opener. He scored the winning touchdown on a spectacular seven-yard scramble in the third overtime to give Wyoming the home victory over NIU. He currently leads the MW in touchdown passes (6); ranks No. 2 in completion percentage (61.9 percent), total passing yards (866) and total offense (240.8 yards per game); and ranks No. 3 in the league in passing yards per game (216.5 yards per game).
Colorado State freshman Hill has thrown five TD passes to tie for sixth in the Mountain West. His 60.3 completion percentage ranks No. 5 in the league. He ranks No. 7 in the conference in passing yards (174.3 yards per game) and ranks No. 8 in total offense (193.7 yards per game).
Of course the Wyoming Cowboys are led by a very notable Hill in junior running back Brian Hill, who is approaching the Wyoming career rushing record. Hill enters this week with 2,890 career rushing yards. He trails former Cowboy great Ryan Christopherson by only 16 yards for second place and needs 73 yards to tie and 74 yards to break the Wyoming record held by Cowboy great Devin Moore. Christopherson rushed for 2,906 yards from 1991-94 and Moore ran for 2,963 yards from 2005-08.
The Wyoming defense had one of its most productive games in terms of forcing turnovers that it has had in a long time when it intercepted four passes at Eastern Michigan last Friday. The last time a Cowboy defense intercepted four passes in a single game was Sept. 25, 2004, against Ole Miss.
Wyoming sophomore strong safety Marcus Epps intercepted two passes, returning his first interception 66 yards for a “Pick Six”. He became the first Cowboy to intercept two passes in the same game since Tyran Finley accomplished that on Nov. 1, 2014, at Fresno State.
Sophomore cornerback Antonio Hull also had an interception against EMU last Friday.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Logan Wilson had a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown against Eastern Michigan. That marked the first time Wyoming had two “Pick Sixes” in the same game since a Sept. 14, 2013 victory over Northern Colorado when linebacker Jordan Stanton and defensive back Cortland Fort each had interception returns for TDs.
A couple other Cowboys are looking to move up on UW career lists this week. Senior running back Shaun Wick needs 41 yards to take over sixth place in career rushing at Wyoming. Wick has rushed for 2,238 yards. He is pursuing Gerald Abraham, who ran for 2,278 yards as a Cowboy from 1984-87. Senior wide receiver Tanner Gentry is 151 yards away from taking over 10th place in career receiving yards at Wyoming. He currently has 1,877 career receiving yards, trailing Shawn Wiggins, who had 2,027 receiving yards from 1987-90. Gentry was named to the 2016 Biletnikoff Award Watch List this week. The award is presented annually to the college football season’s outstanding receiver. It is the second consecutive year that Gentry has been named to the Biletnikoff Watch List.
Saturday will mark the Mountain West Conference opener for both teams. Wyoming is 8-9 in 17 previous MW openers. The Pokes have won two of their last three conference openers.
On Friday, the annual running of the game ball by the ROTC detachments of the University of Wyoming and Colorado State University will take place. Wyoming ROTC members will begin the run in Laramie Friday morning. They will deliver the game ball to Colorado State ROTC members at approximately 11:45 a.m. on Friday at the Wyoming-Colorado state border on U.S. Highway 287. After a brief ceremony and exchange of the game ball, Colorado State ROTC members will run the game ball from the border to Fort Collins. The Bronze Boot Trophy will be located on the sidelines during Saturday’s game for the winning team to grab as soon as the game ends.