A Ram’s journey to Laramie, Wyoming:
Saturday, October 19th was beautiful In Fort Collins, CO when I pulled into the CSU parking lot on Pitkin Street. It took an hour and a half to get up to Laramie, Wyoming via US HW 287, one of the nations most dangerous roads. The trip north was uneventful and it goes through a beautiful stretch of highway with the Laramie Mountains to the east and the Medicine Bow Mountains to the west.
We got into Laramie at about 11:20 and travelled easily through the small mountain town, which was about 10 – 15 degrees colder that it had been in Colorado. There was very little traffic compared to the same scenario in Fort Collins and to our surprise, we were able to park one block away from the stadium for free. The Cowboy Joe club handled the tailgating responsibilities as we met up with some friends, who had travelled 3 hours from Big Springs, NE and were partaking in the festivities directly outside gate 1 at War Memorial Stadium. They were very impressed with the food, prices, location and hospitality shown by the Cowboy Joe Club.
The Ram fans were on the south/western side of the stadium in Section A. Talking to the Wyoming fans, one could see that many were nervous. After seeing the Rams fall apart last weekend against the Spartans (as well as against CU and Tulsa), many of us found that to be a bit odd. CSU was about to silence all of the doubters, including yours truly, about putting a complete game together.
The Wyoming fans proved themselves to be classy and knowledgeable supporters, who were invested in their team. Hats off to Wyoming: the stadium is a gem, with tall pines at both ends which lends it a real mountain feel. The Wyoming fans were engaged and attentive without being rude or objectionable to visitors. At 7220 feet above sea level, and as windy as any stadium you will probably go to, the University of Wyoming stadium is a great destination for any Mountain West fan.
Then came kickoff:
The Rams (3-4, 1-1), a 7-point underdog, won the coin toss and elected to receive. In front of 24, 953 fans the Rams put on a show. The Cowboys (4-3, 2-1) looked either out of sorts or outmatched against a team that had been inconsistent, to say the least. From the outset, the CSU Rams controlled the ball and moved down the field with seeming ease, keeping the Cowboy defense on its heals. CSU maintained a balanced attack with 290 yards rushing and 219 passing. The Cowboys, who had ranked 10th nationally in offense and Cowboy’s QB Brett Smith (21/36 for 246 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT) entered the game ranked 3rd in offense individually, but they just couldn’t get anything going on offense. The Cowboys had a total of 416 yards of offense.
CSU scored 21 points before Wyoming got on the board. The only negative for CSU to take away from a very impressing win away from Hughes Stadium (McElwain’s first) was that Wyoming scored on big plays and exposed a weakness that had already been exploited by lesser teams earlier this year. CSU finished with 509 total yards of offense. Garrett Grayson, other than one interception in the Cowboy end zone, looked focused and poised going 18/23 for 219 yards, 3 TD’s.
One of many criticisms piled on the Rams after their loss last weekend was, that the Rams fed Kapri Bibbs the ball until halftime, then switched to Alexander and Nwoke for a stagnant second half. That was a mistake the Rams did not repeat in Laramie, with Bibbs getting the ball 29 times for 201 yards and 3 TD’s. Donnell Alexander had 15 carries for 77 yards and a TD both running and catching the ball:
Rams TD: 13:24 – TE Kivon Cartwright 24 yard catch. Roberts extra point 7 – 0
Rams TD: 2:50 – Donnell Alexander 3 yard run. Roberts extra point 14 – 0
Rams TD: 3:52 – Kapri Bibbs 7 yard run. Roberts extra point 21 – 0
Cowboys TD: 00:55 – Shaun Wick 11 yard run – Williams extra point 21 – 7
Rams FG: 00:03 – Jared Roberts 45 yard field goal 24 – 7
Rams TD: 13:35 – Austin Gray 22 yard catch. Roberts extra point 31 – 7
Cowboys TD: 12:35 – Dominic Rufran 71 yard catch. Miller 2 pt. conv. 31 – 15
Rams TD: 7:26 Donnell Alexander 34 yard catch. Roberts extra point 38 – 15
Rams TD: 11:24 Kapri Bibbs 59 yard run. Roberts extra point 45 – 15
Rams TD: 9:19 Kapri Bibbs 9 yard run. Roberts extra point 52 – 15
Wyoming TD: Tedder Easton 67 yard run. Williams extra point 52 – 22
The CSU defense came to play and shut the Wyoming offense down for most of the game. Other than a few big plays, the Rams dominated on both sides of the ball to win the Bronze Boot back. The Bronze Boot has been the trophy of this series since 1968 and was worn in the Vietnam War by Cpt. Dan J. Romero. The trophy is guarded on campus by the respective university’s ROTC cadets.
CSU had not had the boot on campus since 2008, so many of the Ram players had not had the chance to hoist the trophy. After the game, the Rams ran across the field and brought the Bronze Boot over to Section A, where the Ram faithful were still sitting. The Cowboy side had emptied mid-way through the 4th quarter. CSU (56 – 44 – 5) dominated the oldest football rivalry game West of the Missouri River (started in 1899) to blow the Cowboys out by 30 points. However, Wyoming has the edge in the series since the trophy was introduced, 24 – 21 and the Cowboys will look to get revenge next year in Fort Collins.
The drive through the mountains back to Fort Collins was a happy one. The Rams now look to next week in Hawai’i to get to .500 and if they bring the same focus and attention to detail they showed this week, the Rams will be a difficult team for anyone to face.