Wyoming heads south to Fort Collins this weekend into what is expected to be the typical hostile Hughes Stadium home crowd that will be primed and ready to defend last year's acquisition of the coveted Bronze Boot trophy. This bitter rivalry has a storied history that goes all the way back to 1899 with 105 battles endured between the two foes. Colorado State leads the overall series 56-44 along with 5 ties, and Wyoming leads the Bronze Boot era, which began in 1968, 24-22.
Wyoming, who enters the contest at 3-4 overall and 1-2 in conference play, is currently on a three game skid with their most recent falter coming at home to a respectable San Jose State team, 27-20 in overtime. Colorado State is off to a phenomenal start this season, sitting at 6-1 overall and 2-1 in conference with their only loss this season occurring at Boise State. Last week the Rams were able to finally put away Utah State on a late game field goal after a hard-fought battle, winning 16-13 at home.
The Rams come into the game with a great deal of momentum, however let's examine three key factors that could result in a Cowboy victory.
1) Logic tends to not apply to a rivalry game
Colorado State enters the game as an 18.5 point favorite at home and leads Wyoming in most of the heavily-scrutinized statistical categories that game odds are derived from. However in discussions between CSU and Wyoming fans alike, the majority typically shy away from banking on those type of very favorable odds and tend to more closely associate with the sheer emotion of what the game means to both sides. Colorado State has not won against Wyoming at home since 2007, and that's not at all because Wyoming has been the more talented team; this game has a history of some wild and unexpected endings.
There is great historical importance for each team every single time they meet on the field. You can expect a sold-out house in Fort Collins, and though one team would appear to have a convincing upper hand, pride and determination can close those gaps pretty quickly, so if there is one game that Wyoming can win out of sheer will this year, this would be the game.
2) Eddie Yarbrough
Let's be honest with ourselves for a moment - Rams quarterback Garrett Grayson is the real deal and a force to be reckoned with, leading the conference in passing and already sitting at the top of the list as CSU's all-time leading passer with half of his senior season remaining. Therefore, Wyoming needs to provide an irritating and disruptive pass rush to try to keep Grayson out of rhythm, which isn't an easy task.
However, if anyone appears to be up for the task, it would be the Cowboys' 2013 first-team senior defensive end, Eddie Yarbrough. As the anchor of the defensive line, Yarbrough had a break-out game last week with 8 solo tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and 2 sacks. He will need to have an equal, if not greater personal performance in order to make up for some potential defensive vulnerabilities with the loss of their leading tackler, linebacker Mark Nzeocha, who is likely out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
3) Colorado State looking past Wyoming
TRAP GAME! The other viable possibility for the Cowboys to pull out a win on Saturday would be if Colorado State simply overlooks them and gets caught up in all of the "11-1" hype that seems to be abuzz as of late. A quick glance at the schedule would lead one to believe that beyond a road game at Air Force, Colorado State could probably just notch up some easy wins for the rest of the season and consider the toughest part of the schedule complete with last week's win over Utah State. Teams that spend too much time worrying about future opponents and the post-season, usually put themselves at high-risk for an unexpected loss.
If any of these three items, or certainly a combination of more than one of them fell together, the Cowboys could cause a great deal of discomfort for Colorado State fans and hang around long enough to find a way to bring the boot back to Laramie.