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What to expect from CSU football’s most exciting rivalry

Colorado State football has not gotten off to the start that it hoped for. Its week 1 game against the University of New Mexico was canceled because of a COVID-19 outbreak, and its opener at California State University, Fresno ended with a devastating 17-38 blowout loss that made the team question its strategy going forward.

“The proximity of these two teams is so close, the rivalry has gone on so long and the intensity of the rivalry — whether it’s in the community, whether its donors and alumni or our players — you can feel the intensity of the game. I’ve been a part of rivalries, and I just love that emotion and that intensity.” -Steve Addazio, head coach

But the bad news can all change with one game. Thursday’s home game against the University of Wyoming can be classified as the biggest game of the year. The Border War, CSU’s biggest rivalry matchup, is always a thriller. 

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“The proximity of these two teams is so close,” head coach Steve Addazio said, “The rivalry has gone on so long and the intensity of the rivalry — whether it’s in the community, whether its donors and alumni or our players — you can feel the intensity of the game. I’ve been a part of rivalries, and I just love that emotion and that intensity.”

It is unfortunate that fans, who are a big part of this rivalry, won’t be able to form a packed crowd. But for Ram players, the rivalry is as special as ever. Lots of the returners stressed the importance of it to new players.

“I was actually just telling Cam Reddy what they did my freshman year, my redshirt season, when we had the boot and they ran across the field and took it from us,” Barry Wesley said. ”Trying to describe that feeling is hard.”

Wyoming has now won four consecutive contests against CSU, including the last win in Fort Collins in 2018 when, after the victory, the Cowboys chanted “It sucks to be a CSU Ram.”

Wyoming has gotten the better of CSU as of late, but the Rams still lead the all-time series with a record of 58-48-5.

The looming question for everyone is, “What will the quarterback play look like for CSU?” Todd Centeio, surprisingly, took the start against Fresno State, but after a disappointing performance, he was benched for last season’s starter, Patrick O’Brien. O’Brien came in and played solidly in limited action, leading to a major quarterback controversy for head coach Steve Addazio to have to address. 

To keep Wyoming guessing, CSU hasn’t released who will start under center this week. The team is holding its cards close to its chest to try to gain any possible strategic advantage. 

However, Dante Wright is expected to be back on Thursday. The receiver/kick-returner missed last week’s game due to contact tracing. This is big news for CSU, as Wright is its biggest playmaker and will help the passing game, which is where the Rams struggled against Fresno State, no matter who is taking the quarterback snaps.

CSU will need to produce significant improvement in multiple areas in order to avoid the fate it suffered last week. Better quarterback play is the obvious answer, but CSU’s front seven must do a better job both against the run and in pass rush. 

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The rivalry is one of the most historic in sports, dating back to the first matchup in 1899. With contention for each other spanning over three centuries and the built-up disappointment over the last few seasons, expect the Rams to come out hot. The battles between the two teams are always close, and although ESPN has Wyoming as 3.5 point favorites, the Rams will fight and claw and do whatever it takes to secure their head coach’s first win in green and gold.  

Bailey Bassett can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @baileybassett_.

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