Colorado v. Colorado State – By the Numbers

This is really getting tiresome.

Each fall, as the Rocky Mountain Showdown approaches, there is talk in the media (here’s looking at you, Denver Post) comparing the status of the programs at Colorado and Colorado State.

With the Rams building a new on-campus stadium, and being considered as a potential candidate for Big 12 expansion (one of 20 finalists!!), the volume of vitriol coming out of Denver and Ft. Collins has been even louder than usual.

It’s been tough for Buff fans to respond. After all, while the Rams have been preparing for bowl games the past few Decembers, the Buffs continue to be mired in its worst stretch of losing seasons in the history of the program.

How bad has it become?

In a review of “The best college football team in each state“, a writer for CBS Sports actually chose Colorado State over Colorado:

Colorado: Colorado State — The Rams were solid in 2016 in the first season under Mike Bobo, going 7-6. Yes, we know they lost at Colorado last year, but they can redeem themselves at home this year against the Buffs. Colorado is the perennial cellar-dweller of the Pac-12 South and aren’t expected to make a leap forward this season.

The article has to be taken at face value. In the one paragraph write-up, the article has two mis-statements, noting that the Rams were “solid in 2016” (a prediction?) and that the Rams “can redeem themselves at home this year” (the Rams aren’t even the designated home team in Denver this year – the Buffs will be wearing their home black jerseys).

(And we won’t even get into the argument that, if projections for season records are to be the only criteria, Air Force, not CU or CSU, is “the best college football team in Colorado” heading into the 2016 season).

Still, the article serves to underscore the perception in some quarters that the Colorado State football program is superior to, or at least on par with, that of the University of Colorado.

Well, once again it’s time for you to sit your Gold-and-Green friends down and have a little chat.

Let’s look at the CU/CSU rivalry … by the numbers.

Where do we start?

Well, how about with the all-time record between the schools?

— Colorado leads the series, 63-22-2, a .735 winning percentage.

“That’s not a fair comparison”, shouts the chorus from Ft. Fun. “Those numbers are skewed by games played in the distant past. Leather helmet games don’t reflect the current status of the two schools”.

Okay, let’s look at the games played since the series was renewed (in 1983, after a 25-year hiatus). The Buffs’ advantage?

— 20-8, a .714 winning percentage (not quite the .735 of the all-time series … but it’s close).

“Fine”, comes the retort from the Ewe brigade. “Some of those games were played when CU was good in the late ’80’s and early 90’s. What about since the teams started playing in Denver, at a neutral site?”

— In games played in Denver, CU’s lead is 9-6 … a mere .600 winning percentage.

So, yes, Ram Nation, please feel free to whoop it up over a .400 winning percentage against your main rival …

(Oh, and before the Ram fans get too excited about taking on the Buffs in Ft. Collins in 2020 and – possibly – beyond, they should be reminded that Colorado has a 23-7-1 all-time record in games played on the Rams’ home turf, a .758 winning percentage)

The past decade has been, unarguably, the worst in the history of Colorado football. The Buffs – and their fans – have endured ten straight losing seasons. The longest such streak before the current one? Six seasons (1979-84).

— Colorado has posted four ten-game losing seasons in that span (including three of the past five years), after having only two ten-loss seasons (1980; 1984) in the history of the school;

— Colorado finished the 2014 season with an 0-9 conference record, the first campaign without at least one conference victory in 99 years;

— Colorado has finished alone in last place in the Pac-12 South in four of its five seasons since joining the conference. Colorado hadn’t finished last alone in conference play since 1915, when CU finished 0-5 in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play (so, yes, you are correct … Colorado never once finished alone in last place as a member of the Big Seven, the Big Eight, or the Big 12).

In short, if there has ever been a period of time in which the Buffs were ripe for the taking, it has been the past decade.

Has Colorado State taken advantage?


Colorado won last season, 27-24 in overtime, with a Buff team coming off of a ten-loss season (not to mention an embarrassing loss to open the season against Hawai’i and a lackluster win over UMass) defeating a Ram team coming off of a ten-win season.

In the past three seasons? CU has won two of three under Mike MacIntyre.

In the past five seasons? CU has won three of five (with even Jon Embree earning a split)

In the past ten seasons … the worst collective ten seasons in Colorado history … CU still has won six of ten.

With Colorado State unable to create any momentum in the series with the Buffs down, it should come as no surprise that, in historical context, the comparison between the two teams is laughable.

If you need confirmation, head to There you can find a breakdown of the rivalry between any two schools of your choosing. There are 12 categories of comparison listed … and Colorado leads Colorado State in all 12:

— All-time record: CU – 685-490-36 (.581) – 38th nationally; CSU – 506-559-33 (.476) – 105th nationally

— Conference championships: CU 26 – 10th nationally; CSU – 15 – 36th nationally

— Bowl games: CU 28 – 36th nationally; CSU 15 – 64th nationally

— All-time wins: CU 685 – 25th nationally; CSU 506 – 92nd nationally

— Consensus All-Americans: CU 31 – 19th nationally; CSU 3 – 74th nationally

— NFL Draft picks: CU 266 – 22nd nationally; CSU 100 – 77th nationally

— First round NFL Draft picks: CU 24 – 24th nationally; CSU 5 – 68th nationally

— Bowl record: CU 12-16 (.429) – 66th nationally; CSU 6-9 (.400) – 71st nationally

— Weeks in Associated Press poll: CU 293 – 27th nationally; CSU – 43 – 75th nationally

There are other measures of comparison at Winsipedia, including national championships, Heisman trophy winners, and time spent as the No. 1 team in the nation. Colorado, of course, rates in all three categories (including seven weeks atop the AP poll, 24th on the all-time list).

Colorado State, of course, has none of the above.

Next Friday, Colorado will once again sell more tickets to the Rocky Mountain Showdown. This, despite the fact that CU charges more for its tickets, and gives season ticket holders the option to trade their tickets for a home game at Folsom.

Next Friday, Colorado will once again have to face a little brother who has prepped an entire month just for this one game, pulling out all the stops in hopes of taking out its rival (note the unwillingness of CSU head coach Mike Bobo to name a starting quarterback).

It’s been bad enough that Pac-12 rivals haven’t had much reason to fear Colorado since the Buffs joined the Pac-12.

We shouldn’t have to hear it from the Ram Nation.

The numbers don’t back up the Rammies’ boasting, so, once again, the Buffs need to, as coach Mike MacIntyre put it at the booster luncheon, “kick some ass up north”.

Just get it done, coach, so we can move on to more important games on the schedule.



10 Replies to “CU v. CSU – By the Numbers”

  1. Disclaimer: I have been a Buff fan since I was 5. Before moving to Boston, I hadn’t missed a home game in 10+ seasons (including the ugliness of 2000 and the post-Barnett collapse). I am also a CSU alum.

    I think in terms of how the two sides look at this rivalry, it’s best compared to CU v Nebraska (with an obvious qualitative difference). Nebraska always talked about CU as a little brother. Nebraska was always the white (and red) whale that we all wanted to harpoon every Turkey Day (plus 1). Avast!

    But, I think it’s difficult to say that CSU has not improved since the dying light of the Lubick era. They aren’t the CSU of 1996 or 2001, to be sure. But someday, after a Buff resurgence, I’d be glad to see Lil Brother get back up to that old standard. My own personal hope is that in the next ten or so years, we see a Showdown between 2 ranked teams, under the lights, on ABC. And that it starts at about 7pm EST. And that some drunken mule in green and gold doesn’t try to pick a fight with me to impress his girlfriend (again). Much as I love CSU, I really honestly could do without most of their fans.

    As for Friday, I don’t like to make predictions because I feel like I jinx the team, but I really think CU has the tools to produce a dominant win for Friday. And I hope they do when I’m here at the watch party with the Boston Buffs and the CSU Alum chapter.

  2. Number of times the team mascot died right before the “rivalry” game: CSU-1 & CU-0.

    Not to be morbid, but our mascot is tougher than a stinkin goat.

  3. nice research and analysis, Stuart.

    it seems the gambling community doesn’t care for the buffs since the vegas books keep lowering the spread. it is time, buffs. just do it. the buffs need not just a win, but a convincing win, say 20 points. it is time to get back on track, start with the lambs.

  4. Well Spoken Fact Checked Article. My Fiance is From CSU and the town is quite fun at times. I just hate their football team with the illusion that they are some sort of power. Mtn. West is nothing to fear top to bottom compared to the PAC 12 and this year should be a drubbing and nothing less.

    CSU hangs with CSU in the first half and then CU pulls away after adjustments are made. CU 38 Rams 17!!!

    Shoulder 2 Shoulder!!!
    GO BUFFS!!!

  5. Beautiful, just beautiful. Numbers don’t lie.

    Not sure I’m going to make it another week until this game!

  6. To help my fellow buff alums if they are barraged by a CSU grad about how CSU is so much better than CU my advice is to just pay them for the pizza they delivered and close the door. Take the high road and give them a solid tip. They probably need it.

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