Border War could bring out the best in both struggling teams

Geoff Huebner

With a combined record of 4-13 overall and 2-7 in the Mountain West, this year’s Border War rivalry game between Colorado State (3-5, 1-3 MW) and Wyoming (1-8, 1-4 MW) might not appear that glamorous, but that is exactly the way the two teams like it.

“They’re blue-collar guys, man,” senior safety Kevin-Pierre Louis said. “Blue collar athletes on both sides of the field, those guys are going to play hard, it doesn’t matter what their record is, even if Wyoming was the last team in the NCAA they are going to come out and play the Rams hard.”

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First year head coach Mike Bobo is new to the Border War rivalry and the traveling Bronze Boot (which goes home with the winning team), but he does know a thing or two about rivalry games from his time at Georgia, and he knows that this game could bring out the best in both teams.

“You see them hit their stride occasionally and it’s a lot like us, not consistent enough at times, but at times they play very well,” Bobo said. “We’ve got our work cut out for this game, like any rival game you can throw the records out the window and it’s going to be a true test of who wants it more.”

A lot of Wyoming’s struggles and youth have shown up on the defensive side of the ball this season. The Cowboys are allowing 35.1 points per game, but on the other side of the ball they do have a couple playmakers, including sophomore running back Brian Hill.

Hill has 1,262 yards and is averaging 6.2 yards per carry. A big part of what the Rams have to do Saturday is limiting Hill and preventing explosive plays, something that the team has struggled to do all season.

“They’re physical up front and they are going to run the ball,” Bobo said. “They’re going to make you stop the run and we have not stopped the run very well.”

Bobo was very high on Hill when speaking of his abilities, even comparing him to St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley, whom Bobo coached during his time as an offensive coordinator at Georgia.

“He reminds me a little bit of Todd Gurley, he doesn’t have the size Todd has … but he’s a taller guy, he’s able to still run a little bit upright like Todd did but still has the ability to get behind his pads and break tackles which is impressive and I think that’s how you judge a great back,” Bobo said.

Senior defensive lineman Joe Kawulok knows how important it is this week to control the line of scrimmage.

“We just have to control the line of scrimmage and everyone has to execute their assignments, it will all come easy on Saturday naturally with the pride that comes with that game,” Kawulok said. “It’s all about pride, it’s one of those games where regardless of our records every year, it’s always a dog fight and both teams come to impose their wills on each other.”

Football players do not often openly admit one game has more value than another, but that is the nature of a rivalry game and is what gives the Border War the notoriety of a true rivalry game.

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“There’s certain games that you don’t want to say you get more prepared for or stuff like that but at the end of the day we’re all human and a rivalry game is a rivalry game,” senior wide receiver Joe Hansley said. “So the Wyoming game is always one to look forward to because of the history of the rivalry and getting that Boot back is pretty special.”

Collegian Football Reporter Geoff Huebner can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @huebnermedia93.