Bragging rights in Colorado for the next 364 days will be up for grabs Friday night when Colorado and Colorado State square off in the Rocky Mountain Showdown, one of the oldest college football rivalries in the Rocky Mountain West.
Friday’s nationally televised game (ESPN), set to kick off at 6 p.m. at Sports Authority Field, will be the 88th meeting between the two schools, a rivalry that dates back to 1893, when CU collected a 70-6 win in Fort Collins over the school then known as Colorado A&M.
Since that opener, the Buffs have built a 63-22-2 edge in the series, making the Rams the most-played opponent in CU history.
But while the Buffs have dominated the series over the long haul, it’s been much closer in recent years, with the two teams having split the last four games. Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre is 2-1 against the Rams while CSU coach Mike Bobo, who made his head coaching debut last season, is 0-1 against the Buffs.
MacIntyre — who collected a win over CSU in his first game as the Buffs’ head coach — would no doubt like to open his fourth year in Boulder with a another win over the CU’s in-state rivals.
“We’re excited about this game,” MacIntyre said. “I’ve been hearing about how young CSU is, but they have 16 seniors on their two-deep (depth chart) and we have 16 seniors. I’m not buying that they aren’t a good football team — they’re a really good football team.”
A crowd in the neighborhood of 65,000 is expected for what will be the 16th game in Denver. Colorado won the first-ever Denver game between the two schools, 42-14 in 1998.
But since then, the contest has provided a long list of exciting finishes, including the Buffs’ 27-24 victory in overtime last year. Colorado erased an early 14-0 CSU lead in the game, then took a 24-17 edge in the third quarter when linebacker Kenneth Olugbode returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown. CSU scored to force overtime, but after Colorado’s Tedric Thompson blocked a Rams field goal attempt, the Buffs collected the win on a 32-yard Diego Gonzalez field goal.
The win gave Buffs fans state bragging rights for a year, something coaches and players on both teams know is of paramount importance — particularly those players who grew up in the state.
“It’s one of those games that you grew up watching,” said Buffs free safety Ryan Moeller, a Rifle native. “You watched when you were a little kid and you were saying, ‘I can’t wait until I’m out there playing.’ You know it’s for bragging rights and everybody is going to talk to you about it for a year. It’s a lot of fun.”
MacIntyre said he is constantly reminded of the result throughout the year.
“The opening game is always a lot of fun, but when you play a rival in the very first game at a neutral site, it’s a unique experience and it puts a little more hype and emotion on it,” MacIntyre said. “It’s one our players hear about for 365 days. It’s one fans are always asking about and talking about. There’s just a little more emotion behind this one.”
Parking lots at Sports Authority Field are scheduled to open at 2 p.m. For more information on parking, tickets, how to watch or listen to the game as well as get live updates, go to CUBuffs.com/gameday.
CU vs CSU football history
- The overall series record is 63-22-2 in CU’s favor.
- The first game took place Feb. 11, 1893, in Fort Collins. CU won 70-6.
- CU played CSU annually from 1893-1958, except for 1943-44 due to World War II.
- The game was not played from 1959-82.
- From 1983-94 (12 seasons), it was played eight times. And it’s been played every season since 1995 and will continue until 2020.
- The first game in Denver was in 1998 and it has been played in Denver all but three seasons since then.
- Colorado has winning streaks of 12 games (1934-47), and two of eight games (1893-1904; 1987-98)
- CSU’s longest win streak is three games, one time, from 1931-33.