The Border War is the Biggest Rivalry In The Mountain West
Cowboys and Rams Have Competed On The Gridiron Since 1899
Two Iconic Logos, One Iconic Trophy
Rivalries come from proximity, competition, and history. When these 3 components align in perfect harmony, it can create the most compelling match-ups. While there are some notable rivalries that lack one or more of these 3 components, USC vs Notre Dame (proximity), Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State (competition), Nebraska vs Iowa (history), the most memorable include all three.
The Border War between Colorado State and Wyoming includes proximity, competitiveness, and history.
Sure there are some rivalries in sports that don’t feature geographic neighbors, however, many of the best do. Duke and North Carolina are separated by eight miles. Auburn and Alabama are 120 miles apart. Ohio State and Michigan share a border that was at the center of an historic boundary dispute.
Fort Collins and Laramie are divided by 65 miles of wilderness; an hour drive in the summer and a sometimes impossible drive in the winter. The festivities during Border War week include the ROTC from the visiting school running a game ball to the state line where it is then transferred to the home team’s ROTC and delivered to the stadium. Along US Highway 287 north of Fort Collins, Haystack Rock lies on the west side of the road. The rock frequently changes appearance as supporters from each side paint it in their school’s colors.
The geographic proximity of this rivalry allows banter to spill into everyday happenings as Colorado State and Wyoming alum live, work, and play together in many areas across the Front Range.
In football, Colorado State owns a 58-46-5 all-time advantage over the Cowboys. However, since the adoption of the Bronze Boot traveling trophy in 1968, Wyoming holds a 26-24 lead over the Rams.
Men’s basketball is similarly competitive and disputed. Neither side agrees on the amount of games they have played against each other but they both agree Wyoming has the overall edge. Since 1950, Wyoming holds a 77-73 advantage.
Colorado State holds an in-state rivalry with the University of Colorado but it has been rather one-sided. CU holds a 65-22-2 lead which includes a huge gap in the series from the 1958 encounter and the 1983 renewal. The teams have squared off every year since 1995 with all but two of those games held in Denver or Boulder. Colorado holds a 16-6 edge in those games and the future of the series is in jeopardy after the 2020 game scheduled in Fort Collins.
The current coaches of both programs are hopeful in continuing the series but Colorado’s AD Rick George doesn’t sound particularly interested. CSU fans view the Buffs as their main rival and there is a lot of energy towards the rivalry on both sides, yet with the lack of competition, this game hasn’t garnered much attention in recent years.
Many Wyoming fans would love to consider Boise State a rival but that series has also been one-sided with the Broncos compiling an 11-1 advantage. While there have been a few memorable games, juggernaut 2006 Boise State squad sneaking out of Laramie with a 17-10 win and the last 2 games, Wyoming’s 30-28 win in Laramie in 2016 and the Broncos 24-14 win in Boise in 2017, the majority of games have been lopsided in Boise State’s favor. Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl has made it clear that he respects the Boise State program and wants the Cowboys to become nationally relevant but Wyoming is not there yet. Time will tell whether he can get them there and the 2018 match-up could go a long way in determining the trajectory of this series. For now, the Cowboys are not at the level of the Broncos on the football field.
Colorado State and Wyoming have played every season since 1946, mostly alternating every year between Fort Collins and Laramie other than a couple of hiccups. While both the Cowboys and Rams would like to enjoy other programs as their rivals, they will always be most similar to each other.
The first Colorado State vs Wyoming football game was played in Laramie on November 11, 1899. Current Mountain West institutions Air Force, Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, and UNLV were not even established yet.
The Cowboys and Rams played mostly every season from 1899-1942. Both schools were members of the same conference from 1910-1961. In 1962, Wyoming accepted an invitation to become a charter member of the Western Athletic Conference with Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, New Mexico and Utah.
Colorado State was left without a conference and competed as an independent but was able to maintain its annual rivalry with Wyoming. In 1967, the WAC decided to invite Colorado State and the teams have since shared the same conference affiliation.