Border War is More Than Another Game on the Wyoming Schedule
LARAMIE -- Wyoming coach Craig Bohl stresses a series of one-game seasons. He preaches that all weeks are created week.
But they aren't.
He knows it. And so do the Cowboys assistant coaches and the players.
There are 11 games on the schedule, each of which gets a special focus. And then there is Colorado State, this week's opponent in a Friday night game at War Memorial Stadium, which was moved up a day and given a 7:30 p.m., kickoff to accommodate ESPN2.
And it comes on the heels of back-to-back road disappointments -- an overtime loss at Boise State that ended with placekicker Cooper Rothe missing a 37-yard field goal and a 26-21 loss at Utah State in which a potential game-winning drive disappeared amid quarterback Tyler Vander Waal's mistaken effort to try and force a cross-field pass past three Aggie defenders only to suffer his third inception of the game.
With the Border War coming on a Friday night, cutting a day off the week leading up to it, what Bohl likes to call the 24-hours to relive last week's game were eliminated and the Cowboys went to work after arriving back from Logan on Sunday to get ready for the Rams.
The Cowboys go into the game with a 6-4 record, knowing well that they most likely need to win one of their last two games to assure themselves of a bowl bid, a definite focus for a team that has been bowl eligible each of the last three years, but was one or four teams that went 6-6 a year ago and was left home for the holidays.
They also have won the Border War the last three seasons, allowing them to take a 27-24 in the era of the Bronze Boot, which was worn in Vet Nam by Capt. Dan J. Romero, an Adams State alum who was the Army ROTC instructor at CSU from 1967 through 1969
And, Bohl admits, this is a special event. It's his sixth Bronze Boot Game, and his fourth with a senior class which has 14 of its members on the two-deep, and which laid the foundation for Bohl in the revival of Wyoming's football program.
The Cowboys have, after all, won all three of the Border War's during their careers, which also coincides with the team having been bowl elgibile in each of those seasons after suffering through a 2-10 struggle Bohl's second year, which included a senior class of only seven players remaining from the previous regime.
"They laid a great foundation," said Bohl, the Cowboys already has the minimum six wins for Bowl qualification this year. "They came here when nobody would give us a plug nickel. These guys belieed where we were going.
"They have been special to me. ... However, once all the emotions are gone they have to go out and play. It doesn't do any good to be intense if you don't know what you are intensive about."
What the Cowboys do know is tight end Jackson Marccotte and defensive end Teagan Liufau suffered knee injuries against Utah State, and while the final medical results had not been returned by mid-day Monday, Bohl did say there were enough early indications to make him sure they wouldn't be available this week, and most likely could be done for the season.
The good news, however, is left guard Zach Watts, a redshirt freshman from Windsor, Colo., and and right tackle Alonzo Velazquez will both come off the injured list and start along the offensive line. Bohl also said true freshman Alphonzo Andrews, Jr., the lone remaining healthy scholarship running back behind starter Xazavian Valladay, has shown enough progress in practice that he could provide game depth against CSU.
The Cowboys would like to ease some of the demands on Valladay, a sophomore, who opened the season with a 100-yard game against Missouri, was slowed by an injury the next five games (missing the Idaho game completely), but is coming off three-game stretch in which he has rushed for 457 yards but on 96 carries, compiling three-figure game totals in each.
It's welcomed news, said Bohl, particularly going into the CSU game, which he admits is on a different level than most.
"One thing that is great about college football is the long rivalries that are there," said Bohl. "Unfortunately with the landscape of college football some of those no longer exist. For me, as a player and a coach the Nebraska-Oklahoma game was a great rivalry. That is no longer here. (The Border War) is intact, it's alive." said Bohl.
This year will mark the 111th meeting between the two teams, the eighth most of any rivalry West of the Mississippi, and it has been played every year since 1929, except for a three-year hiatus (1943-45) during World War II.
"It became very apparent to me when I first got here that you better circle it," Bohl said. "It means a lot to the people in the state, our University and alums all over the country. These are the games you live for."