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Thoughts before the Labor Day weekend

Friday, August 29, 2014 2:37pm

Chill out, Rog:

It’s time for the NFL to just let these guys smoke pot. It’s better for the body than harsh painkillers, and far less addictive. And a guy that is on the couch, baked with a bag of chips and a sleeve of Oreos, is far less likely to be a menace to the community or his wife. The league practically does let these guys smoke by only testing for it once a year in a designated timeframe (before the start of training camp) but will still gladly suspend a guy for a year should he do it too many times. Get over it, NFL. 
 
That being said, I have no sympathy for Josh Gordon. As silly as I think the policy is, it’s still the rule, and you have to abide by it. By not giving it up even though he was in the league’s substance abuse program, Gordon made a statement to the world that he likes weed more than football. That’s a bad statement to make, and if I’m his Browns teammates, I’m super pissed at the guy. Now he misses a year of football just because he couldn’t lay off the dope. Yes it’s a dumb rule, but it’s the rule nonetheless.

The Showdown:

Friday bring the 86th meeting between Colorado and Colorado State, a game that has in recent years required forced enthusiasm to try and get it built up. Both programs have been down in recent years, and even though CSU returned to a bowl game last year (a fantastic win over Washington State in the New Mexico Bowl), neither program is at the level it wants to be. For now, we have to hope that the “on the rise” narratives coming out of Boulder and Fort Collins turn out to be true and produce consistent success –– something neither program has had in a while. 
 
It’s disappointing to see the lack of interest and all the empty seats during these games, because there was a time that the Rocky Mountain Showdown looked like a top five rivalry in all of college football. From 1999 to 2005 (which coincidentally was Gary Barnett’s entire tenure at Colorado), the Buffs won 4 while the Rams won 3. It’s the closest the rivalry has been over an extended stretch in its history (CU leads the all-time series 62-21-2). And in that stretch there were four games, from 2002 to 2005, that were four of the very best in the rivalry’s history. I’ve dubbed this stretch “The Golden Age of the Rocky Mountain Showdown.”
 
2002: A 19-14 CSU win in Denver, and the third win in four years for the Rams. Bradlee Van Pelt put CSU up for good with a 23-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and celebrated by spiking the ball of a would-be CU tackler’s head. After the game, Barnett called Van Pelt “a great warrior.” BVP’s status as a villain in Boulder was forever cemented that day.
 
2003: Joel Klatt’s first start at Colorado was a 42-35 win in Denver. Klatt threw for 402 yards and four touchdowns, but this game was all about the finish. BVP scored on a 30-yard touchdown run to tie it at 35 with 1:50 left, then Klatt led CU on a 75-yard scoring drive that took all of 56 seconds off the clock, capped by a nine-yard touchdown run from Bobby Purify. The game was played before 76,219 fans at was then called Invesco Field at Mile High, the largest crowd to ever watch a college football game in the state of Colorado.
 
2004: The game moved to Boulder and resulted in a 27-24 win for the Buffs. CSU rallied from 17 down to tie it in the 4th quarter, and then, trailing by 3, got the ball to the CU one-yard line with 30 seconds left. Rams quarterback Justin Holland couldn’t hear Sonny Lubick yelling for him to spike the ball to stop the clock, and Tristan Walker was stuffed on a sweep left by JJ Billingsley in an incredible finish.
 
2005: Again played at Folsom Field, the two teams scored 20 points in the final 2:32 of the game, with Mason Crosby kicking a 47-yard field goal as time expired to give Colorado the win, 31-28. The Rams had tied it on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Holland to Kory Sperry in the final minute, but Lubick opted for the squib kick on the ensuing kickoff, and Klatt quickly got CU into field goal range. 
 
The following year, Barnett was gone, Dan Hawkins lost his first game to Montana State, the following week the Rams won 14-10 in a hideous game in Denver, and the air had been let out of the rivalry. From 2002-05, CU went 29-23 overall while CSU went 27-23. It was the last time the two programs were consistently successful at the same time, and those four games were classics as a result. The average margin of victory in those four years was 4.5 points, and both rosters were stocked with future NFL talent.
 
Given the new autonomy rules for the Power 5 conferences in college football, the line of demarcation for the haves and have-nots is clearer than ever. Colorado is among the haves, and Colorado State will have an uphill battle as a have-not. The rivalry will most likely never again reach the storied heights of 2002 to 2005. 

And a few predictions …

Rocky Mountain Showdown: 31-24 Colorado.
 
College Football Playoff: Florida State, Oregon, Michigan State, Oklahoma. That’s right, no SEC schools will get in. Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and South Carolina will all have two losses, and an undefeated Oklahoma squad will get the Big 12 the nod over the SEC.
 
The Broncos in 2014: 13-3, mark it Dude. The Broncos will lose at Seattle, at New England, and at Kansas City. The “big scary” NFC West will only get the Broncos once, as they’ll stomp San Francisco in Week 7. Write this one down too: The 49ers will not make the playoffs.
 

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