The Rams return to action this week in another Mountain West
Conference showdown as they travel to Wyoming to face the Cowboys
in the 95th annual Border War.
The Rams (5-3, 2-1 MWC) enter the game as one of four teams with
one loss in the conference, sitting behind Utah and Air Force and
tied with New Mexico. Wyoming (3-5, 1-2 MWC) beat BYU earlier this
season and had two close losses, with the margin of defeat being
six points or less against both San Diego State and Air Force.
“Everyone is confident enough and our offense is ready to go out
and play football for four quarters,” senior quarterback Bradlee
Van Pelt said. “We do have a more physical team, but Wyoming is
good and they have some good players.”
CSU has a four-game winning streak against the Cowboys and has
not lost in Laramie since 1991. Wyoming put up a fight last year
after coming out first to score and barely lost to the Rams 44-36.
Wyoming’s record may not be as strong as CSU’s, but the Rams know
they cannot afford to look past the Cowboys.
“Every time we play Wyoming it is a good game,” said senior
defensive back and return man Dexter Wynn. “I believe it is a huge
rivalry. There is not much recognition for this game, but we
realize what a big rivalry it is.”
The Cowboys are lead by senior quarterback Casey Bramlet, who
has thrown for 2055 yards and 17 touchdowns in eight games. He is
the current passing-yards leader in the MWC, ahead of Van Pelt by
85 yards. Bramlet will be a challenge for the Rams defense, but
they believe they are prepared.
“We are confident right now,” senior safety Benny Mastropaolo
said. “We respect him but our game plan is sound and we are ready
to go. We’ve had five good practices and we are back in the
Bramlet’s go-to man this season is sophomore wide receiver Jovon
Bouknight, who averages 16.8 yards per reception for a total of 571
yards and six touchdowns. Wyoming’s aerial attack, averaging 256.9
a game, towers over its ground game in which senior running back
Derek Armah averages 69.25 yards a game.
“Our secondary has been playing a lot better,” head coach Sonny
Lubick said in a news release. “It will still be important to put
pressure on the quarterback and make him throw on time.”
The Rams have been successful in limiting opposing quarterbacks’
time in the pocket, dealing out 18 sacks this season to match the
season total from last year.
On the other side of the ball, Wyoming will have its hands full
trying to stop the dynamic duo of Van Pelt and sophomore receiver
David Anderson. Van Pelt averages 309.5 yards a game in total
offense and is fourth in the nation with a 168.1 quarterback
rating. Anderson is currently third in the country with 908
Junior Marcus Houston leads the running attack and has scored
seven touchdowns in his last three games. Houston averages 68.8
yards a game followed by Van Pelt with 63.2 and senior running back
Rahsaan Sanders with 33.7 yards a game.
Cowboy Casey Bramlet has already thrown for more than 2,000
yards and is the main force behind Wyoming’s offense. He has a
strong arm but has also thrown seven interceptions. His lack of
mobility and a weak offensive line has led to 30 sacks. Van Pelt is
about even with Bramlet in passing yards per game with 246.2 and
eight interceptions, but the extra 63.2 he gains on the ground
gives him the upper hand. The Rams’ strong offensive line has
limited opponents to eight sacks on CSU quarterbacks this
Wyoming’s Derek Armah is the man in the Cowboys’ backfield,
averaging 69.3 yards a game and 4.3 yards per carry. Houston is
very similar to Armah, averaging 68.8 yards a game and 4 yards per
carry. Houston has eight touchdowns compared to Armah’s three, and
combined with the ground game of Van Pelt gives the Rams the
Wyoming has three receivers with more than 500 yards receiving
with Jovon Bouknight with 571, Malcom Floyd with 535 and Ryan
McGuffey with 502. They have proven reliable targets for Bramlet.
David Anderson is arguably one of the top receivers in the nation
with 908 yards and shares the field with Chris Pittman, who has 545
yards. Wyoming may have more receivers with more yards, but no one
can stop Anderson.
Wyoming is last in the conference, giving up an average of 429.5
yards a game compared to 358.9 yards by the Rams. Wyoming is also
last in rush defense, giving up more than 200 yards a game. The
Rams come off a game in which the defense forced three turnovers.
They are fourth in conference, yielding 215.2 passing yards a
Jeff Babcock averages 41.8 yards per punt and Wyoming’s Luke
Donovan averages 42.3 yards. Dexter Wynn has 14.5 yards on punt
returns and Cowboy Josh Barge averages 12.2. Wyoming’s kick return
man, Bouknight, averages 26.9 yards per return and Wynn averages