Rumble in the Rockies

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Rumble in the Rockies
Sport Football
First meeting October 3, 1903
Colorado 22, Utah 0
Latest meeting November 28, 2015
Utah 20, Colorado 14
Next meeting 2016
Trophy No
Meetings total 62
All-time series Colorado 31–28–3
Current win streak Utah, 4 (2012–present)

The Rumble in the Rockies is an American college football rivalry between the Colorado Buffaloes football team of the University of Colorado and Utah Utes football team of the University of Utah. After nearly five decades of dormancy, the rivalry was revived in 2011.

From 1903 until 1962, Utah and Colorado played each other nearly every year. By 1962, they had played 57 games.[1] At that time, it was the second-most played rivalry for both teams (Utah had played Utah State 62 times;[2] Colorado had played Colorado State 61 times[3]). After the 1962 meeting, however, Colorado and Utah stopped playing each other in football.

As part of the 2010–13 NCAA conference realignment, both Utah and Colorado were placed in the Pac-12 Conference's new South Division. The first game since the realignment was played on Black Friday. The second game since the realignment was the first Black Friday college football game to be telecast by the Fox Broadcasting Company, which holds the exclusive over-the-air television rights to Pac-12 Conference football (with the exceptions of road games against the Southeastern Conference (CBS) and Notre Dame (NBC)).

Prior to the resumption of the rivalry, Colorado played Nebraska on Thanksgiving weekend since the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1996 in front of a national television audience. Utah had traditionally played against BYU on Thanksgiving weekend, who the Utes had played every year since 1946, and all but 2 years since 1922. The Colorado–Nebraska football rivalry was discontinued due to realignment when Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference, while the fierce Holy War rivalry game with BYU was moved to earlier in the season. Coincidentally, BYU also was part of the 2011 realigning of conferences as they left the Mountain West Conference to become a football independent.

Despite the near half-century hiatus, the Colorado–Utah rivalry remains the fifth-most played rivalry in Utah's history, and the eighth-most played rivalry in Colorado's history.[4][5]


Colorado's history shaded black. Utah's history shaded in red.


Kickoff during the 1916 Colorado – Utah game

For 38 years, Utah and Colorado were members of the same conference. From 1910 to 1937, they both played in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. And then from 1938 to 1947, they were both members of the Mountain States Athletic Conference. Of those 38 seasons, either Utah or Colorado won at least a share of the conference title 27 times (Utah won 12 outright, and 3 shared; Colorado won 11 outright, and 2 shared). The two schools shared the Mountain States Conference title in 1942.

The most notable meetings during this era occurred in 1936 and 1937:

The 1936 match-up may have featured the greatest gridiron performance of Colorado halfback Byron "Whizzer" White. White ran for one TD from scrimmage that day, and threw for another. But the future U.S. Supreme Court Justice was most dominant on special teams. As the punter, White kept Utah's offense backed up all game. And as a kick returner, he also returned one kickoff and two desperate Utah punts for touchdowns. Although Utah was favored to win, Colorado won 31–7. [6] Utah's lone touchdown in the game was a kickoff return for a touchdown by Joseph Wirthlin.[7]

In 1937, Colorado went into Salt Lake undefeated and unchallenged – having outscored opponents 162–6 en route to a 5–0 record. However, they found themselves trailing Utah at halftime 7–0. But from there, Whizzer White took control of the game. White first got CU on the board with a third-quarter field goal. Then, in the fourth quarter, White returned a Utah punt 95 yards for a touchdown (he also kicked the extra point). Moments later, White sealed the win with a 57-yard touchdown run from scrimmage (and again kicked the extra point). Final Score: Colorado 17, Utah 7.[6][8][9] The Frontiersmen finished the regular season 8–0, but lost to Rice in the 1938 Cotton Bowl. White was a runner-up on the 1937 Heisman Trophy ballot.[10]


In 1948, Colorado left the Mountain States Conference and joined the Big Eight Conference (then known as the Big Seven Conference). But for the next fourteen years, Utah and Colorado played each other nearly every year as part of the teams' non-conference schedules. It was during this time, Colorado began to dominate Utah, winning nine of the thirteen games played during this era, including eight in a row from 1949 to 1958.[1]

1 2 3 4 Total
Utah 7 7 7 0 21
#8 Colorado 6 0 0 6 12

The 1961 meeting in Boulder is perhaps the most noteworthy game of the Utah–Colorado football rivalry, for two reasons: 1) the 1961 Colorado team was the most successful squad that either school had ever fielded; and 2) it was a monumental upset. #8 Colorado was the first to score, and they also added another touchdown in the final minutes. But Utah dominated the game in between Colorado's lone scores. Final score: Utah 21, Colorado 12.[11] Colorado went on to finish the regular season with a 9–1 record, a #4 national ranking, a Big Eight Conference title, and a berth in the 1962 Orange Bowl. Utah, however, would have to settle for a 6–4 record.

Utah won again the following year in Salt Lake City 37–21, the last time the two schools met until the series resumed in 2011.


With Colorado and Utah joining the Pac-12 in 2011, the two teams began play against each other once again. The first matchup was a Black Friday game, a day in college football reserved for rivalry matchups; Colorado has had a regular place on Black Friday since 1996, against then-division rival Nebraska, but the conference realignments has separated that rivalry while restarting the long-dormant Colorado–Utah football rivalry. In the inaugural Pac-12 matchup, Colorado won 17–14 at Rice-Eccles Stadium, ending Utah's chance at a possible berth in the first Pac-12 Championship Game. Had the Utes won, they would have represented the South Division against eventual conference champion Oregon. Utah got revenge on the Buffaloes the next year, beating Colorado 42–35 in Boulder in a close game. Utah won again in 2013, defeating the Buffaloes 24–17 in Salt Lake City to ensure that Colorado finished last in the Pac-12 South. The 2014 game was another hard-fought game in Boulder swaying in the Utes favor. Utah won 38–34, ending Colorado's season with 0 conference wins. In 2015, Utah won 20–14 in a hard fought match in the snow, which also lead Utah to be the co-Champions in the Pac-12 South.

Game results[edit]

Colorado victories Utah victories
# Date Location Winner Score
1 1903 Boulder, CO Colorado 22–0
2 1904 Salt Lake City, UT Colorado 33–6
3 1905 Boulder, CO Colorado 46–5
4 1906 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 10–0
5 1907 Boulder, CO Colorado 24–10
6 1908 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 21–14
7 1910 Boulder, CO Colorado 11–0
8 1911 Salt Lake City, UT Colorado 9–0
9 1912 Denver, CO Colorado 3–0
10 1913 Salt Lake City, UT Colorado 30–12
11 1914 Boulder, CO Colorado 33–0
12 1915 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 35–3
13 1916 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 28–0
14 1917 Boulder, CO Colorado 18–9
15 1919 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 7–0
16 1920 Boulder, CO Utah 7–0
17 1921 Salt Lake City, UT Tie 0–0
18 1922 Boulder, CO Utah 3–0
19 1923 Salt Lake City, UT Colorado 17–7
20 1924 Boulder, CO Colorado 3–0
21 1925 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 12–7
22 1926 Boulder, CO Utah 37–3
23 1927 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 20–13
24 1928 Boulder, CO Utah 25–6
25 1929 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 40–0
26 1930 Boulder, CO Utah 34–0
27 1931 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 32–0
28 1932 Boulder, CO Utah 14–0
29 1933 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 13–6
30 1934 Boulder, CO Colorado 7–6
31 1935 Salt Lake City, UT Colorado 14–0
32 1936 Boulder, CO Colorado 31–7
# Date Location Winner Score
33 1937 Salt Lake City, UT Colorado 17–7
34 1938 Boulder, CO Tie 0–0
35 1939 Salt Lake City, UT Colorado 21–14
36 1940 Boulder, CO Utah 21–13
37 1941 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 46–6
38 1942 Boulder, CO Utah 13–0
39 1943 Boulder, CO Colorado 35–0
40 1943 Salt Lake City, UT Colorado 22–19
41 1944 Salt Lake City, UT Colorado 26–0
42 1945 Boulder, CO Colorado 18–13
43 1946 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 7–0
44 1947 Boulder, CO Utah 13–7
45 1948 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 14–12
46 1949 Boulder, CO Colorado 14–4
47 1950 Salt Lake City, UT Tie 20–20
48 1951 Boulder, CO Colorado 54–0
49 1952 Salt Lake City, UT Colorado 20–14
50 1953 Boulder, CO Colorado 21–0
51 1954 Salt Lake City, UT Colorado 20–7
52 1955 Boulder, CO Colorado 37–7
53 1956 Salt Lake City, UT Colorado 21–7
54 1957 Boulder, CO Colorado 30–24
55 1958 Salt Lake City, UT Colorado 7–0
56 1961 Boulder, CO Utah 21–12
57 1962 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 37–21
58 2011 Salt Lake City, UT Colorado 17–14
59 2012 Boulder, CO Utah 42–35
60 2013 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 24–17
61 2014 Boulder, CO Utah 38–34
62 2015 Salt Lake City, UT Utah 20–14
Series: Colorado leads 31–28–3


  1. ^ a b "Colorado vs Utah". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  2. ^ "Utah vs Utah St.". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  3. ^ "Colorado vs Colorado St.". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  4. ^ "Utah Opponents". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  5. ^ "Colorado Opponents". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  6. ^ a b Mark Purcell. "Whizzer White: a pop-art icon of the thirties" (PDF). College Football Data Warehouse. p. 13. 
  7. ^ Mike Sorensen. "Elder Wirthlin cheers on Utes". Deseret News. 
  8. ^ Jim Campbell. "Colorado Justice.pdf" (PDF). College Football Historical Society Newsletter. p. 15. 
  9. ^ "White Runs 95 And 57 Yards And Scores All CU Points". Retrieved 2010-06-20. 
  10. ^ "Winners (1937)". The Heisman Memorial Trophy. Retrieved 2010-06-19. 
  11. ^ "Inspired Redskins Crush Unbeaten Colorado". Salt Lake Tribune. 12 November 1961.