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College Gridirons of Colorado

Feb. 10, 2017

This is the Ram Alumni Athletes Association's second of a five-part series exploring the history of Colorado State football at visiting football stadiums in Colorado and Wyoming since 1893. When the new, on-campus football stadium at CSU opens this fall, it will mark the newest college football stadium in the region since Rex Stadium in Alamosa was built in 2009. Part 1 of the series explored the four fields in Boulder the Aggies/Rams have met at since their first Boulder matchup in 1893.

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By John Hirn
CSU Athletic Historian

This is the second of a five-part series exploring the history of CSU football at visiting stadiums in Colorado and Wyoming. Part two of the series explores the four stadiums in Denver the Aggies/Rams have played in since 1903. Denver is also the city where CSU football has played the most neutral site games, a home away from home since 1910.

When Colorado State fans think of Denver and college football, they immediately think of the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown game against CU. However, the city of Denver has not only been home to the University of Denver and briefly to Air Force, but the Aggies have played 19 neutral site-games in Denver that were not against the CU Buffaloes.

College football at the University of Denver is said to have begun in 1885 when DU and Colorado College played the first intercollegiate football game west of the Mississippi at an athletics park in Colorado Springs. It was not until 1903 that the University of Denver football team, known then as the Ministers, played the Colorado Aggies in Denver for the first time.

The first 14 games played in Denver between DU and Colorado Agricultural College (CAC) are believed to have been at the old Broadway Park, home of the Denver Bears baseball team, and formerly located at 6th and Broadway. From 1903 to 1924 the Aggies boasted a 9-5 record over the Ministers in games played at Broadway Park.

In 1925, just one year after CU opened Colorado Stadium, DU opened a new stadium located on its main campus. Commonly known as DU Stadium, and sometimes as Hilltop Stadium, this 30,000-seat venue made of concrete and steel was a marvel of its time. The Aggies played the third game in DU Stadium history on Oct. 17, 1925 and beat DU 17-0 on a muddy field before a packed house.

DU Stadium had a signature look to it with arched west stands that held the majority of its spectators, along with the largest press box in the region. The east stands themselves were larger than the Aggies’ home field, which may explain why from 1925 to 1952 the Aggies played all of their games against DU in Denver.

DU Stadium was more than just the home to DU football; it was the best site for a neutral game in the Rocky Mountain region. Beginning at Broadway Park in 1910, the Aggies played their first game in Denver against another school. The Colorado School of Mines used Broadway Park as its home venue from 1910 to 1924 and for the first year at DU Stadium in 1925. Between 1910 and 1940, the Aggies and Miners played nine games in Denver for a record of 4-3-2 in favor of Mines.

The Aggies played several other games at DU Stadium between 1925 and 1940 that are considered to be neutral-site games. One game of note was the 1930 game against Regis College, which goes down in the CSU history books as the first night game ever played. It was just the second night game ever played in the state of Colorado and the teams used a white football to help under the lights.

The Dec. 5, 1931 Nebraska game was one that is considered to be the first post-season football game in CSU history. After a 5-3 season in which the Aggies beat all of the schools from Colorado, CAC and the Cornhuskers decided to put on a charity game for the benefit of people affected by the Great Depression. DU Stadium was chosen as the site of this game with the receipts split 50/50 to each state’s depression relief fund. This was not a scheduled game at the beginning of the 1931 season, making it the first post-season game the Aggies had ever played, but it cannot be considered a bowl game.

With Albert “Red” White and Lora McDonald at halfback, and a speedy end named Glenn Morris to catch long passes, the Aggies took a 7-0 lead into the start of the fourth quarter before running out of steam, allowing 20 points to Dana Bible’s Cornhuskers. It was one of the hardest-fought games of the decade before a packed crowd at DU Stadium.

In 1933 and 1934, the eventual RMAC co-champion Aggies took on the Colorado College Tigers at DU Stadium. beating their rivals from the southern half of the state in each game.

The last neutral-site game the Aggies played at DU Stadium was on Oct. 26, 1940 against the New Mexico Lobos. The Aggies had opened their season at DU Stadium against Mines in hopes of getting a larger gate. They decided to hold the New Mexico game at DU Stadium only because the Denver chapter of the alumni association held a banquet to honor head coach Harry Hughes in his 30th season as mentor of Aggies football at a local Denver hotel after the contest.

The Aggies and eventually Rams continued to play the University of Denver at DU Stadium until DU dropped its football program after the 1960 season. The all-time CSU record in Denver against DU at both of its stadiums is 20-19-5. Although the Rams lost their last game against DU before they dropped the program, they still played one more game at DU Stadium thanks to the Air Force Falcons.

Air Force Football began in 1956. While the main campus was under construction, the Air Force Academy operated out of the old Lowry Air Force Base in Denver. Because of this, the Falcons used DU Stadium as their home field until their own stadium could later be opened in 1962.

The Colorado State Rams played the Air Force Falcons at DU Stadium for the first time in 1957. The Rams won behind a solid rushing attack by Wayne Schneider and quarterbacking of Fred Glick.

The Rams played three more games against Air Force in DU Stadium in 1958, 1960 and 1961 – all of which were losses. The last time CSU played at the old DU Stadium was on Nov. 4, 1961, a 9-14 loss to the Falcons.

DU Stadium was left standing without a football team to play in for another decade. The Denver Broncos used it occasionally in the early 1960s, but repairs became too much and the west stands were demolished in 1971 and east stands in 1974. Today the DU lacrosse and soccer teams play on the former site of the old stadium that was once the pride of Denver.

College football in Denver had a long layoff between 1962 and 1997, but it took the competitiveness of the Rams and Buffaloes to bring the game back to the Mile High City. In 1998, the first neutral-site CSU/CU game was played at the old Mile High Stadium, longtime home of the Denver Broncos. Fans packed the stadium with the CU faithful on the west side and Rams fans on the east. These first Rocky Mountain Showdown games remain as the largest crowds to see a college football game in the state of Colorado.

Since 1998 the Rams and Buffs have played 16 games at the old and new Broncos stadiums in Denver, drawing between 55,000 and 77,000 people each year. The last scheduled CSU/CU game in Denver will take place in 2019. Who knows what the future of college football in Denver will hold after that. Maybe Coors Field will host a game and the Rams will be a part of Denver history again?


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