BOULDER, CO - OCTOBER 22: "Ralphie" the mascot of the Colorado Buffaloes leads the team onto the field before a game against the Oregon Ducks at Folsom Field on October 22, 2011 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
With four schools in such a close proximity the Front Range delivers plenty of interesting story lines each year. There is always the bickering between the two state schools of Colorado and Colorado St. Then the Air Force Academy presents a whole different perspective of the student athlete. Despite the demanding daily schedule Troy Calhoun has built the Falcons into a team that competitive year in and year out.
Wyoming is obviously not in Colorado but is still considered part of the Denver media market.
While the Buffs and Rams dominate the news headlines it was the Cowboys who were the best football team in the Front Range last year. The Pokes have won three straight Border Wars and defeated Air Force last year in the Springs.
Air Force: 7-6
Colorado State: 3-9
* - CU beat CSU, but still finished with a lower record.
The Buffs have endured six straight losing seasons, the Rams have put together a turkey of 3-9 records. Air Force is always loaded but lost a huge group of key seniors to graduation. Wyoming lost some performers on both sides of the ball but still return a large number of starters.
Is Wyoming on the verge of becoming the Front Range powerhouse?
This will be Dave Christensen's fourth year in Laramie. When he started the cupboard was pretty bare and was forced to convert players to his spread offense. The number of scholarship athletes on the roster dipped below 70 and there was very little depth. That was the first couple years, now Wyoming sits at 85 scholarships and has depth at every position on the field. Nearly every member of the roster was recruited by Christensen to be part of his system. There are still a couple fifth year seniors that remain from the Glenn era.
The Cowboys had a huge turnaround last year with freshmen playing big roles. Now the team is more experienced and plays an easier schedule then 2011. Home games with Boise State, Air Force and San Diego State will certainly be helpful. The home opener against Texas will be a big challenge.
Colorado lost a ton of lettermen and aren't get much respect heading into this season. They do have a fairly easy non- conference slate but no one expects them to do much in their second year of PAC 12 play. Becoming bowl eligible would be huge progress for CU.
CSU has hired a new AD and new football coach. They've also spent a lot of time talking about building an on campus stadium. Stadiums don't win football games, football players do. And the Rams lost most of their remaining good defensive players due to fights and other incidents. Right now they are experiencing the shrinking roster syndrome that Wyoming dealt with in 2009 and 2010. The positive is that CSU refuses to schedule a tough out of of conference schedule and will hope they can get off to a fast start. Winning early games wasn't the trouble for the Steve Fairchild, it was winning conference games. Till Jim McElwain figures out how to win in the Mountain
West it will be the same song in Fort Collins.
Air Force has certainly been the most consistent team on the Front Range. Dealing with some big losses at QB and RB may hurt, but there is a reason that the military academies stick with the triple option. It is a plug and play scheme and there certainly plenty of players ready to step up. Air Force skips Boise State this season which certainly give them a leg up in conference play. The team will travel quite a bit this year with trips to Michigan and Army. At least they host Hawaii and Navy.
I certainly think that Wyoming has the ability to once again be a top of the Front Range standings in 2012. Perhaps a dynasty is forming here as well. What are your thoughts on the direction Wyoming is headed? Do they get enough press in Denver?