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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

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CSU vs. CU: A history of our extensive rivalry

Collegian | Michael Marquardt
Empower Field at Mile High in Denver Sept. 4.

The Rocky Mountain Showdown is returning this weekend for the first time since 2019, and with that comes a heightened sense of community among Colorado State University students, faculty and alumni. However, this also means reaching a boiling point in the rivalry between CSU and University of Colorado Boulder students.

As the Rocky Mountain Showdown approaches, it is important for everyone to remember to stay safe while at the game. This 130-year-old football rivalry dates back to when Colorado State University was still Colorado Agricultural College and the University of Colorado Boulder’s nickname was the Colorado Silver and Gold, and the bad blood runs deep.


When it comes to football, rivalry can be a fun but dangerous game. All too quickly, lines can be blurred between light-hearted banter and violence. In the history of the Rocky Mountain Showdown, there have been many instances when things have gotten out of hand with no warning.

The rivalry between the two schools goes much deeper than just football. One of the most well-known rumors is that CU fans poisoned the 1913-18 CSU school mascot, Peanuts the bulldog. This, among other things, such as CU referring to CSU as its “little brother” despite being established years later than CSU, only kindles the flames in the hearts of loyal fans on both sides who will defend their favorite team to the end.

The appearance of either green and gold or black and gold on any opposing turf is bound to spark up some sharp verbal jabs and a gracious amount of heckling. As CSU fans know, anyone spotted in Buffalo gear can hardly make it two steps within Canvas Stadium without feeling the glares of thousands of students preparing to rain down heckling.

The Rocky Mountain Showdown is no stranger to housing high tensions, but prior years have sparked more rowdiness than others.

The 1999 Rocky Mountain Showdown game turned into a riot as CSU beat No. 14 ranked CU, which caused many CU fans to grow agitated at their home team. 

“The Rams had just won against the Buffs, and CU fans weren’t happy about the fact that we beat their ranked team,” said Daniel McAllister, a CSU student and historian. “So they began a bit of a riot, throwing cups (and) beer and attacking police and the Colorado sideline.”

CSU fans also partook in the taunting, leading police to get more officers to the stadium to keep fans from storming the field, said Virginia Lopez, the Denver Police spokeswoman in 1999 in The Denver Post. It escalated to a point where the game has been referred to as “the tear gas game” as police began unleashing tear gas down on the crowd to get them to settle, which only caused more harm and injuries to those who were innocent bystanders.

Game day can be a time of celebration of a favorite team — the excitement is palpable and electric — but it can quickly become unruly.

Sports Illustrated’s 2017 study “College Football Gameday Safety” notes that “the average total number of police incidents on campus on gamedays was 139.4 incidents.” This report was done on 33 of the biggest colleges across the nation but still is a caution to those who intend to attend the Rocky Mountain Showdown this coming Saturday.


This statistic should be kept in mind considering the Rocky Mountain Showdown’s relocation this year.

Moving from Empower Field at Mile High to CU Boulder’s own Folsom Field may mean some pushback from the Buffs, but continue representing the green and gold and show our team love. With the tensions brewing between both CU and CSU as we near Saturday, to those who plan to go to the game, keep safety in mind while cheering on the Rams.

“I have seen many Rocky Mountain Showdowns in Denver and in Boulder,” McAllister said. “The game brings out energy and passion from both fan bases, and that energy definitely brings out some bad and ugly moments, but that’s the spirit of rivalry.”

Reach Christian Arndt and Ayla Sanchez at or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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