For the CSU football team, this game is war.
It is the one of the oldest rivalries in college football,
dating back to 1899. The teams have met in the trenches of a
football field 93 times. They battle for conference standings, for
honor and for bragging rights between two schools separated by 90
miles and a state line.
They battle for a trophy made of a worn combat boot encased in
bronze. For the players, the trophy holds great importance. And
that importance is currently in the hands of Wyoming, following
their stunning 35-28 upset of CSU last year in Laramie, Wyo.
The Rams want the boot back.
“I’ve had this game circled on my calendar since last year,”
said senior H-Back Joel Dreessen, who plays in his final Border War
game Friday. “The boot doesn’t belong in Laramie.”
The Border War between CSU and Wyoming has taken on epic
proportions. Cam the live ram was killed back in the 1970s after he
was painted by Wyoming fans. Now, the field at Sonny Lubick Field
at Hughes Stadium has been defaced with the letters UW.
The traditions that come with the game will begin today a
members of the Wyoming ROTC run with the game ball to the
Wyoming-Colorado border, where they will meet members of CSU’s ROTC
at noon. ROTC Rams will then run with the ball and it is expected
to arrive at Hughes Stadium at 6 p.m.
At 7:30 p.m., the Rams and Cowboys will strike up a battle for
the Bronze Boot, the trophy awarded yearly to the winner of the
The boot, originally worn in Vietnam by CSU graduate Jeff Romero
Sr., was established in 1968 by the ROTC programs at each school.
Wyoming has compiled a record of 19-14 since the boot’s conception,
but CSU leads the all time series 49-39-5.
Dreessen isn’t the only Ram who feels the importance of the
“This is a huge rivalry for us,” said junior safety Ben
Stratton, who is originally from Wyoming. “That game (last year)
burns me, it burns us all.”
CSU led 21-7 last year before Wyoming scored 21 unanswered
points and walked off the field in a mass celebration, their
students tearing the goalposts down and carrying them off the
“It was a sick feeling, watching their fans last year,” Dreessen
said. “We gotta go get our damn boot back.”
Now, with both teams 1-1 in the Mountain West, there is more
than just bragging rights at stake on Friday night. The winner will
be in shape to compete for the Mountain West title, while the loser
will have to fight just to make a bowl game.
It certainly won’t be easy for the Rams to bring back the boot.
Wyoming is 4-2 on the year, having won games against Mississippi
and San Diego State. They are led offensively by quarterback Corey
Bramlet, the younger brother of Casey, who led the Cowboys last
year. This year, Bramlet is averaging 181 yards a game passing and
has thrown six touchdowns.
However, the Pokes do not depend only on Bramlet’s arm. The
running duo of Joseph Harris and Ivan Harrison have helped Wyoming
average nearly 143 yards of rushing per game, helping to balance
the Cowboy offense.
The Rams, who lost starting quarterback Justin Holland for the
season to a broken leg, turn to true freshman Caleb Hanie to lead
the offense. Hanie, who is making his first career start, is a
dual-threat quarterback who can run the ball as well as throw.
“You always want to get the running game going, no matter who’s
at quarterback,” said CSU head coach Sonny Lubick. “It’s always a
goal of us to run it.”
CSU may have some success running the ball as well. BYU ran for
237 yards while beating the Cowboys 24-13 last week.
But, in a rivalry game, stats and streaks get thrown out the
“This is always a good game,” Stratton said. “But how we play
all stems from practice. If we practice like we have been, we’ll be