The Border War: A century’s worth of history

Justin Michael

Out of all opponents to come to Hughes for a final time this season, none compare to the historic rivalry that has been shared between Colorado State and Wyoming. The Rams’ oldest rival and closest geographic foe, the Border War has provided some of the most memorable moments in the history of both programs.

The Rams hold a slight edge in the total series (57-44-5), but historically this game has been a coin flip, especially since the Bronze Boot was introduced in 1968. Since the inception of the Bronze Boot, each team has won 24 times, with CSU winning the previous three.


There is no opponent the Rams have played or defeated more than the Cowboys, and the programs have met continuously since 1946, making it the one of the oldest rivalries west of the Mississippi River. The Border War rivalry dates back to 1899, when the Cowboys forfeited to the Rams due to a dispute over the rules and bad blood between the programs began to brew.

In 1949, following an 8-0 Wyoming victory, Cowboys fans attempted to tear down the goal posts at Colorado Field. When Aggies fans attempted to prevent the opposing fans from messing with their home turf, a riot broke out and tear gas was used on the fans.

In 1958, fans from both schools entered Colorado Field, as they disputed a non-touchdown call that made the difference in the one-score game. Again, tear gas had to be used to break up the mob.

After losing to Wyoming for the seventh consecutive time in 1973, head coach Sark Arslanian famously vowed that they would never lose to Wyoming again. The players in the locker room responded and the Rams went on to win the next three games against Wyoming.

In 1990, arguably the most famous game in Hughes Stadium history took place between these two programs. The Pokes rolled into Fort Collins undefeated and nationally ranked. CSU would ultimately upset Wyoming 17-8 and carry the momentum towards their first bowl appearance in 42 years.

Recently the game has been decided in streaks, with Wyoming winning in 2009-2012 and the Rams winning 2013-15. During the past three CSU victories over Wyoming, the Rams have never trailed and have outscored the Cowboys 123-60, totalling just north of 1,400 yards of offense in the winning streak.

A win in 2016 would mark a fourth consecutive for the Rams and would be the first conference opener CSU has won since 2011.

“Being able to play a rivalry game at night, under the lights, it adds to the excitement in practice,” CSU head coach Mike Bobo said.

Any conference game is important because of implications in the standings, but the Border War brings a certain atmosphere that other games do not live up to. With local bragging rights on the line and over one hundred years of history between the programs, this game means more to the communities than any other.

Collegian sports reporter Justin Michael can be reached by email at or Twitter @JustinTMichael