CSU football relinquishes control of its own destiny after Border War letdown

Colin Barnard

LARAMIE, Wyo. – For the first time in 2017, the Colorado State football team does not control its own destiny in the Mountain West Conference.

Two weeks ago, the Rams sat atop the conference with aspirations of both playing in and hosting the MW Championship. But following a 16-13 loss at the hands of Wyoming, the chances of that happening are slim.

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The Rams will need losses from Wyoming and Boise State in addition to winning their final two games in order to have a shot at playing in the title game. For a team soaring with confidence after a 4-0 start in the MW a short time ago, that harsh reality is setting in.

Bobo staring
CSU head coach Mike Bobo looks up at the scoreboard late during the first half of the Rams’ 16-13 loss against rival Wyoming in the Border War. (Javon Harris | Collegian)

“It’s extremely tough. Obviously we still have to win the next two games to put ourselves in position of something happening, but absolutely you always want to control your own destiny,” quarterback Nick Stevens said. “Our goal from the beginning, since January, has been to win the Mountain West Conference, and this loss definitely doesn’t help that.”

The loss is that much more disheartening given that the Rams outplayed the Cowboys for the majority of the evening. Given the snowy conditions, the Rams looked to control the tempo with a hard-nosed rushing attack, and that’s exactly what they did.

Led by a game-high 154 yards from Dalyn Dawkins, CSU outgained Wyoming 235 to 156 on the ground. They held the ball for nearly 15 more minutes than the Cowboys and seemed in control of the game in the middle of the fourth quarter.

Despite moving the ball into Wyoming territory, the Rams were unable to finish drives on multiple occasions in the second half. At the end of the third quarter following a lengthy nine-minute drive, the Rams lined up for a 33-yard field goal. The snow made itself known as holder Nathan Lucas muffed the snap, leading to a turnover on downs.

Then, after moving down to Wyoming’s 31-yard line with seven minutes remaining in the game, head coach Mike Bobo elected to run Rashaad Boddie on fourth-and-six. The Pokes’ defense stopped him short and drove down the field on the ensuing position to score the game-winning touchdown.

“We controlled the clock, the game was playing in our hands how we wanted,” Bobo said. “We just couldn’t finish on either side of the ball…It’s disappointing that we didn’t come here and do what we wanted to do in this ballgame.”

Colorado State Running Back Dalyn Dawkins moves the ball down the field during the snowy third quarter in Laramie, Wyoming on Nov. 4. (Elliott Jerge | Collegian)

Reversing an alarming trend that developed in previous weeks, CSU’s defense looked dominant on Saturday. They limited potential first-round draft pick Josh Allen to 138 yards passing and zero touchdowns. But Allen showed his versatility late, beating the Rams with his legs.

Though they played well enough to win, Evan Colorito and the defense realize they could have performed better. And regardless of how the unit played as a whole, this loss carries more weight than others.

“We wish we could have done better,” Colorito said. “At the end of the day when you look at the scoreboard, that’s really what hurts the most. Regardless of whether the offense plays well, defense plays well, the loss hurts the most.”

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Collegian Sports Editor Colin Barnard can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_.