College football rivalry games can turn an ordinary game between two losing teams into something exciting.
Such is the case for the 2012 Border War, which features Wyoming (1-7, 0-4 MW) hosting CSU (2-6, 1-3 MW) in the annual battle for the Bronze Boot this Saturday.
“We’re expecting it to be a hard-fought battle. It’ll be a street fight from start to finish as it is each and every year,” Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. “I think it’s one of those games where you can throw out the records and understand that both teams are gonna give everything they’ve got from start to finish.”
Wyoming will welcome Christensen back to the team from his one-game suspension due to a postgame rant he made two weeks ago after a video on YouTube of the coach swearing at Air Force coach Troy Calhoun garnered over 100,000 views in one week.
The completion of the suspension allows Christensen and the Wyoming football program to put the controversial situation to rest and allows the 19-year coaching veteran the opportunity to coach his team again.
“It’s great,” Christensen said when asked about being back with his players this week. “They’re excited, they’re very supportive and we’re moving forward now and there’s a lot of excitement around the program for this week’s game.”
The Cowboys come into the matchup with CSU off four consecutive defeats, most recently against No. 21 Boise State, when Wyoming mustered only 54 yards rushing in a 45-14 defeat.
In order to have a different result this week against the Rams, Wyoming will have to cope with a Rams defense that forced five turnovers last week in a win against Hawai’i.
“They play a lot of different guys, they’ve got a good team speed and I think they’re very solid on defense,” Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith said. “I think we just need to be more consistent and capitalize on the turnovers that we get.”
Defensively, Wyoming will be tasked with creating turnovers and stopping the Rams’ offense, led by redshirt freshman Conner Smith, who is the third CSU quarterback this season to make a start.
In order to prepare for Smith, who made the first start of his collegiate career last week, Wyoming looks at what Rams coach Jim McElwain has shown offensively throughout the season.
“It’s kind of like a week one situation with a freshman quarterback,” Wyoming linebacker Korey Jones said. “You don’t really know too much about him, but we’ve got games on them and we’ve got a whole season on their schemes and what they like to do on offense. So I think that’s more of a help for us.”
The Cowboys will try to stop McElwain’s offense in an attempt to earn their fourth consecutive bronze boot trophy, a feat that would take some of the sting out of a disappointing 1-7 campaign this year.
“I think it’d mean a lot especially with the struggles that we’ve had this season,” Smith said. “We just have to be sure that we stay focused and obviously with the heated rivalry between the two (teams), there’s obviously a little bit more riding on it.”
Football Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at email@example.com.