Photo finishes

By By Tony Pizza

By Tony Pizza

Utah’s biggest rival might be a team from Provo, but it is a team from Fort Collins that has given the Utes fits over the years.

Since the induction of the Mountain West Conference in 1999, the Utah/Colorado State football game has been one of the most intensely competitive games in the conference every year.

With the exception of 2004, the game typically involves a dramatic comeback, a pivotal fourth-quarter plan and a score in the final four minutes that decides the outcome.

So, it’s time to cue the famous NFL voiceover for this look back at some of dramatic finishes between Colorado State and Utah:

Oct. 28, 1999: CSU 31, Utah 24

Utah takes its 6-1 (3-0 MWC) record into Fort Collins to take on the 4-3 (1-2) Rams.

Colorado State jumps all over the Utes early, building a 24-3 lead by halftime. The Utes claw their way back by scoring three straight touchdowns to tie the game at 24-24 midway through the fourth quarter.

After CSU forces Utah into a three-and-out situation with two minutes and 35 seconds left on the clock, Dallas Davis returns the Utah punt 56-yard for an eventual game-winning touchdown on ESPN.

The win provides CSU the momentum to win its final three games of the regular season and Utah can’t recover, going on to lose to Wyoming at home the following week.

Colorado State, Utah and BYU all finish at 5-2 in the conference to split the MWC conference title.

Oct. 21, 2000: CSU 24, Utah 17

Utah, which lost its first four games, goes into the game with a 2-4 (1-0) mark and has the chance to spoil CSU’s 5-1 (2-0) start the same way the Rams spoiled the U’s the year before.

Utah goes into halftime with a surprising 17-10 lead. In the second half, CSU stops the Ute offense cold and doesn’t allow the Utes to score again.

Quarterback Matt Newton throws two second-half touchdowns, including the game winner with three minutes, six seconds left in the game to preserve the Rams’ perfect conference record.

CSU goes on to win the conference title outright and finish the season ranked 14th in the country.

Oct. 27, 2001: CSU 19, Utah 17

In 2001, Utah goes to Fort Collins with a 5-1 (2-0) record to face the 3-4 (2-1) Rams with dj vu of 1999 lingering in the air.

Utah took 7-0 and 14-13 leads before Colorado went ahead 19-14 midway through the fourth quarter.

Ryan Kaneshiro’s field goal with six minutes to go makes the game 19-17. In the waning minutes, Utah’s defense holds strong and gives Lance Rice and the offense an opportunity to generate a field goal with two minutes to play.

Rice drives the Utes to the 32-yard line, but he throws an off-balance interception with just more than a minute to play, sealing Utah’s fate.

The Utes leave Fort Collins with another loss and go on to give up sole possession of first place by going 2-2 in the conference the rest of the way.

CSU, however, uses the U game as a springboard, only dropping one more game as the Rams finish second in the conference.

Oct. 19, 2002: CSU 28, Utah 20

Utah continues its woes against CSU in the month of October as Bryan Borenson misses what could have been a crucial extra point, and the Utes lose their fourth-straight game to CSU when Rhett Nelson knocks down a Bryan Borreson pass in the end zone, which stalls Utah’s attempt to tie the game at the 11-yard line.

Utah nearly doubles Colorado State in Total Yards, but fails to pull off the upset in Salt Lake City for the second time in three years.

Sept. 27, 2003: Utah 28, CSU 21

The Urban Meyer-led Utes break their five-game losing streak against CSU when Arnold Parker returns a fumble 80 yards for a touchdown with a minute and 33 seconds left to play in the game.

The game would not have had the dramatic finish if the Utes wouldn’t have allowed two CSU touchdowns in the forth quarter to tie the game at 21-21.

Utah goes on to win its first outright conference championship under its new coach.

Nov. 6, 2004: Utah 63, CSU 31

No. 7 Utah puts up 42 first-half points en route to match its season-high 63-point total.

With the game out of reach by halftime and many of the starters on the bench, the Utes still lead 56-10 before CSU scores three touchdowns in garbage time to make the game seem closer than it really was.

Oct. 8, 2005: CSU 21, Utah 17

Of all the great CSU/Utah finishes, the 2005 campaign takes the cake.

Utah continues a popular trend when it lets its 14-3 lead slip away in the fourth quarter. Colorado State scores three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but fails on all three two-point conversions to keep Utah in the game at 21-17.

After Kyle Bell gives CSU the lead with five minutes remaining, Utah eats the majority of the remaining clock on a drive that takes the Utes from their own 20-yard line to the CSU 4.

On first-and-4 Quinton Ganther rushes the ball and is dropped just short of the promised land. Utah is stuffed on three straight goal-line rushes and turns the ball over on downs at the 1-yard line with 22 seconds left.

Daily Utah Chronicle