By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.6.2016
Computer rankings, that I am sure San Diego State, the Mountain West brass and ESPN television crew cursed repeatedly in the bitter cold night, decided that the 2016 Mountain West Conference Championship game between San Diego State and Wyoming was to be held in Laramie, Wyoming…in December. While not ideal conditions, it was ‘football’ weather and it could have been much worse. The freezing weather and 20 mph wind gusts didn’t deter fans who were treated to a back and forth battle that saw San Diego State win their second conference championship in a row.
Laramie is a solid two hour drive from downtown Denver and could seem like light years away to the urban dwellers of Colorado’s biggest city. Laramie does have it’s charm and the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.
Before the game, you can watch the Cowboys walk right by on their way to War Memorial Stadium. It’s also important to hang out in the indoor practice facility where for $10 you can get food and all the beer you can drink until they run out (try finding that at a Power 5 school). Even if you don’t drink, it’s still warm and their is plenty of stuff for the kids to do.
Closer to game time you are either still in the indoor practice facility or you went back to your car for warm up one final time. At some point though you have to commit to mother nature, trust the four layers you have on and head to your seats.
Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium isn’t big for the SEC or PAC-12 but it’s big enough for the rockies. It holds almost 30,000 which is just about the population of Laramie. It’s no frills but there isn’t a bad seat in the house and the ticket price is a heck of a lot more reasonable than tickets elsewhere.
San Diego State must not have liked this place since the lost to Wyoming 34-33 a few weeks earlier. The Championship game was like returning to the scene of the crime only this time it was significantly colder.
San Diego State would get revenge on this night though but it wasn’t easy. It was an extra effort here, a missed block there and in the end, the team from sunny southern California had a 27-24 victory. While the game didn’t decide a who would be in the College Football Playoff or who would win the Heisman Trophy, it did provide one of the most trilling conference championship games of the day.
Yes Wyoming fans went home disappointed but there was solace to be found in a fast working car heater and the fact that their team went from 2-10 a year ago to 8-5 and within three points of winning the conference.
Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl has done it the right way. While no one knows what next year will bring, it’s safe to say that Wyoming fans would welcome another cold December night if it went that their team was playing for another conference championship.