When Utah and Colorado State play Saturday (3:30 p.m. MDT) in Fort Collins, don't be surprised if you see some wild and crazy things happen during the game.
Many of the most memorable games in Ute football in recent years have taken place in Fort Collins. From Harold Lusk's 105-yard interception return to Dallas Davis' two punt returns for touchdowns to Arnold Parker's fumble return for the winning touchdown, it always seems to be something out of the ordinary when the Utes and Rams meet at Hughes Stadium.
The Utes' last visit in 2005 added another to the collection with the famous CSU goal-line stand that saw the Utes fail three times from the one-yard line, keeping them from what looked to be a sure victory.
To recount, the Utes held a comfortable 14-3 heading into the fourth quarter, only to see the Rams score a pair of touchdowns to take a 15-14 lead. However, the Utes kicked a field goal to go back on top 17-15 before the Rams regained the lead with a 49-yard run by Kyle Bell with five minutes left.
Then the Utes methodically drove down the field, starting at their own 20 and picked up a first down at the 3-yard line after a 20-yard run by Quinton Ganther. On the next play, Ganther nearly got in the end zone. Two quarterback sneaks by Brian Johnson failed and on fourth down, Ganther was stopped short with 22 seconds left.
Coach Kyle Whittingham called the loss "the toughest I've been a part of," and his opinion hasn't changed two years later.
Asked about his most memorable games in Fort Collins, Whittingham mentioned that game as well as the 1994 game when Utah won 45-31 in a battle of unbeaten, nationally ranked teams and the 2003 game when the Utes came from behind to win 28-21.
"It was such a great game," Whittingham said of the 1994 encounter before a sold-out crowd at Hughes Stadium.
Everyone remembers Lusk weaving his way upfield with the interception, but the game had all kinds of crazy things, including a safety, a blocked punt, a blocked field goal, a blocked extra point, a fumble recovery and four pass interceptions, including two for touchdowns for the Utes. And people forget that the Utes still would have won if Lusk had simply taken a knee in the end zone since there was just 22 seconds left in the game.
"That wasn't Harold's style, not his M.O.," Whittingham said with a laugh.
Because of the WAC schedule with teams not playing each other every year, the Utes and Rams didn't meet again in Fort Collins until 1999, the first year of the Mountain West Conference.
That game was being televised on ESPN on a Thursday night and the Rams jumped out to a seemingly comfortable 24-3 halftime lead over the 6-1 Utes.
However, the Utes stormed back to tie the score at 24-24, which included a 57-yard TD run by Andre Dyson off a blocked field goal.
Then, with just 2:35 left in the game, Davis, who had already returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown, went 56 yards straight up the middle on a punt return for the winning score.
Ute assistant coach Jay Hill played in that game for Utah and recalls how Davis was unstoppable that night.
"It was a dogfight back and forth," he said. "Both teams were really good and I remember getting a blocked field goal for a touchdown, but they stole momentum back."
The 2003 was a reversal of the 1999 game. CSU had the momentum and was apparently driving for the winning score with less than two minutes to play in a tie game. Then, as Marcus Houston was running around the left end at the Ute 20, Dave Revill jarred the ball loose, and it ended up in the hands of Parker, who rambled 80 yards for the winning score with 1:33 left.
"Dave Revill did all the work, but Arnold got all the glory," said Whittingham.Since 1983, every Utah-CSU game in Fort Collins, except the 1994 game, was decided by 10 points or less, including two four-pointers, a three-pointer, two two-pointers and a one-pointer. The point totals for the last 10 games are 249 for CSU and 248 for Utah.
Utes on the air
Utah (5-3, 2-2) at Colorado State (1-6, 1-3)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Radio: 700AMTV: The mtn.
Utah vs. CSC in Fort Collins
Last 10 meetings
2005 CSU 21, Utah 172003 Utah 28, CSU 212001 CSU 19, Utah 171999 CSU 31, Utah 241994 Utah 45, CSU 311992 Utah 33, CSU 291990 CSU 22, Utah 131987 Utah 24, CSU 231985 CSU 21, Utah 191983 CSU 31, Utah 28Points: CSU 249 Utah 248