W hen University of Colorado senior Matthew Nabhan thinks about the Buffs' rivalry with neighboring Colorado State University, the first thing that comes to mind is the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown football game.

But Wednesday, a group of CU and CSU students battled it out in Denver for bragging rights to the state's best business school. While the competition outcome wasn't as brutal as September's game, the Buffs still fell to the biggest state rivals.

CU-Boulder Students and professors from both schools launched Battle of the B-Schools: CU vs. CSU Business Competition Wednesday, an academic rivalry they're hoping will become an annual competition, said Nabhan, who is on the event's organizing committee.

"I see tremendous value in the degree I'm pursuing, but I don't have the means of showing that off as compared to the other large, state school," Nabhan said. "There hasn't been much academic rivalry between the two schools, so now we'll have that with the whole state looking on."

Denver energy company DCP Midstream Partners designed a mock case study with background information, financial statements and forecasting to test the students' business savvy. On Wednesday, the company presented each team of five students with a challenge to plan the faux company's expansion.

Judges from DCP and RAS & Associates, a Denver-based strategy and management-consulting firm, chose the winning team before joining the students at a networking event.

CU senior Schuyler Van Sickle was one of the five students from the Leeds School of Business competing.

"I am a competitive person so the competition aspect was what really interested me," Van Sickle said.

The judges measured the presentations in two categories: business application and delivery and creativity. The CU team was awarded a higher score in the business application category, while CSU ranked higher in presentation.

"It sounds more like a tie than a loss to me," Van Sickle said. "In the real world I think business executives wouldn't make their decision based on presentation alone, it would be the business sense that mattered in the end."

CSU won by 2/10 of a point, Nabhad said.

Despite the loss, Van Sickle said the competition gave him real-world experience and confidence to prepare for future job hunting.

"These decisions would typically be made by a company over weeks and we made them in a day," Nabhad said. "It gave me a lot of confidence and confirmation that I have the business skills to apply what I've learned at CU to the real world."

Nabhad said the competition provided an good opportunity for some of the top senior business students from both schools to mingle with local industry leaders.

Nabhad is hoping the schools will keep up an annual competition in the future.

- Follow Whitney Bryen on Twitter: @SoonerReporter