Football On A Cold Wyoming Night

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.

Mountain West Championship 2016
Mountain West Championship 2016

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.


Buffs Roll Over Rams

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The 88th edition of the Rocky Mountain Showdown wasn’t much of a showdown at all. It was a one sided, behind the woodshed thrashing by the Colorado Buffaloes over the Colorado State Rams. The biggest concern for the Buffaloes after this 44-7 victory is will they let the success go to their heads?

The Buffaloes senior quarterback Sefo Liufau showed no ill effects from his foot injury that end his season a year ago. Liufau was in complete control of the new uptempo offense installed by first year co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini.

“We knew we could do a lot of things against this defense that they were coming out with,”stated Liufau who finished 23-33 for 318 yards and one touchdown. “We just gotta be more consistent in the second half I think there was a little bit of a drop off.”

The Buffaloes offense was snapping the ball as quickly as 15 seconds after the previous play putting the young Colorado State Rams defense on their heels right from the start. Liufau marched the Buffaloes up and down the field on their way to a 31-0 halftime lead capped by a spectacular 46 yard catch by junior wide receiver Bryce Bobo to set up a Phillip Lindsey touchdown.

“We came out in the game fast and that was important,” said fourth year Buffaloes head coach Mike MacIntyre after the game. “I think we should be a top PAC-12 defense.” That defense held the Rams to just 79 yards of total offense in the first half and didn’t get their initial first down until there was 10:42 remaining in the second quarter.

Senior defensive back Chidobe Awuzie led the swarming Buffaloes defense. Awuzie intercepted Rams quarterback Nick Stevens to set up the Buffaloes final scoring drive right before halftime. Stevens finished 6-20 for 31 yards and two interceptions.

There wasn’t much for the Rams to hang their hat on except for redshirt junior running back Daylan Dawkins performance. He rushed for 88 yards on 14 carries along with a 35 yard kickoff return. Head coach Mike Bobo and his staff have a lot to work on before their next game against Northern Colorado on Saturday.

Despite the Buffaloes dominating performance, they too have a lot to work on. They turned the ball over twice, settled for field goals and gave up some big runs in the second half. They should be able to get most of that fixed in time for next week’s home game against the Idaho State Bengals.

Orediggers Upend ThunderWolves

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Sometimes it takes a bit longer for your season to get started then you would like. For the Colorado School of Mines Orediggers and the CSU-Pueblo ThunderWolves it took an extra 100 minutes to get started due to a weather delay. You can add on another 15 minutes before the Orediggers realized they were playing football. After that they put on an offensive show on their way to a 57-21 route of the ThunderWolves.

The ThunderWolves started off well enough on their way to a 8-0 first quarter lead. Then the #18 Orediggers 5th year senior quarterback Justin Dvorak pressed the go button. He led the Orediggers up and down the field on their way to 43 unanswered points with 36 of those coming in the second quarter alone.

Dvorak lived up to his preseason first team All-American status by throwing for 402 yards and six touchdowns while completing 75% of his passes. His first touchdown throw was dropped into quadruple coverage to redshirt sophomore tight end Brody Oliver. It was a sign of things to come as completed pass after pass with pinpoint accuracy.

The only two concerning moments of the game for the Orediggers was when Dvorak came out of the game with an apparent right leg injury suffered during is extra point holding duties. It turned out to be cramps but with the score 50-14, Orediggers head coach Gregg Brandon decided that was enough and sat Dvorak for the remainder of the game. The second concerning moment was when the defensive, which was stellar most of the night, gave up a fourth and 32 touchdown in the third quarter.

It was an impressive win for the preseason #18 team in the country and a very concerning loss for the #5 team. CSU-Pueblo gave up an average of 16 points per game a season ago. The Orediggers take their offensive show on the road next weekend as they travel to New Mexico Highlands. The ThunderWolves head back home to welcome West Texas A&M.