The Wyoming football team wins the border war against the state of Colorado

Colorado state football team can’t get over the hump to hit a big win to initiate a program turnaround.

The Rams were right there once again and could/should/could have but didn’t.

Wyoming wins the Bronze Boot again.

CSU had an early lead, chances to extend it and a late opportunity to win, but Wyoming exits Fort Collins with a 14-13 win in front of 30,300 fans at Canvas Stadium.

Here are four thoughts on the game.

Red zone costs CSU again

It can be argued that the red zone cost the CSU two wins.

CSU suffered a slew of red-zone problems in a 28-16 loss to San Jose State last week and struck again on Saturday.

The Rams moved into Wyoming’s touchdown three times and didn’t score a touchdown on any of them.

Twice the CSU kicked short field goals and once the Rams turned around (more on that below).

CSU is now a stunning 4-21 when it comes to converting red-zone chances into touchdowns. The Rams are a few games away from five wins at Mountain West, but instead they go into the last two weeks 2-8 overall and 2-4 in league play.

Two big turnovers

Two particular pieces will be remembered as key turning points in this play.

In the first half, CSU led 10-0, driving just inside Wyoming’s 20-yard line. A TD would have given the Rams a three-point lead and a huge shot at the win.

It did not happen. Clay Millen missed a pass into the end zone and Wyoming intercepted it.

Two sets later, Wyoming scored a TD in the final minute of the half, sending CSU into the break by just three points, although it could have been a lot more.

The second big momentum came in the fourth quarter. CSU just had another failed attempt in the red zone that ended in just a field goal, but it gave the Rams a 13-7 lead.

The defense quickly forced a three-and-off. The following punt was fumbled by Tory Horton and Wyoming recovered. Two plays later, backup QB Jayden Clemons hit a strike on Alex Brown for a 32-yard touchdown.

A game isn’t won or lost with two games, but those were particularly crucial in tipping the scales away from CSU and toward Wyoming.

Quick start is not enough

Horton’s awkward punt was particularly painful considering how important a flip was from the start of the game.

CSU forced a punt in Wyoming on the first drive of the night, and then Horton put on a show. He lined up the punt, missed several defenders and sped 72 yards for a score.

The Rams forced a pick on next possession.

CSU quickly built a 10-0 lead and it felt like 2020 as CSU raced and held the lead early on. Except that the CSU didn’t hold out this time.

The Rams had one last chance, driving into Wyoming’s 30 in the fourth quarter and setting up for a 40-yard field goal.

But Michael Boyle couldn’t follow on this occasion, missing wide and Wyoming was mostly able to salt the clock away.

CSU had a final drive starting at their own 19 with less than 50 seconds remaining, but couldn’t get to goal distance.

Wyoming continues to own CSU

The Rams won the Bronze Boot in 2020, but due to COVID-19 protocols, it found itself in an empty canvas stadium.

CSU hasn’t won the border war at home since 2014, and Wyoming has now won six of their last seven matchups.

The CSU urgently needs a turning point victory and that could have been it. As could have been last week.

Wyoming (7-3, 5-1 MW) is still alive and kicking in the Mountain West race, and the Cowboys will host division-leading Boise State next week.

Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle on Twitter and Instagram @Kevin_Lytle.

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