Bowl Coverage: Reviewing the Cowboys football season

(Photo by Taylor Hannon) A University of Wyoming Cowboys' football helmet rests against a black backdrop.

With the Famous Idaho Potato bowl fast approaching here is a quick recap of the Wyoming Cowboys football season.

Game 1: Loss vs. University of Iowa 24-3

Wyoming would enter the season with hopes of building off the previous season where they went to the conference championship and to a bowl game. The loss of Brian Hill and Chase Roullier would quickly be noticed as the Run Game suffered. Offensively the Cowboys would struggle and would be help to only 3 points in the game. CJ Johnson did drop a pass in the end zone and Josh Allen also had two interceptions. The bright spot in this game is we quickly saw that the Cowboy Defense was much improved and had the potential of being very good. They gave up 24 points but most of those were due to short fields from either the interceptions or the muffed punt. In this game, the defense was able to force five turnovers against an Iowa offense that had very few turnovers the year before.

Game 2: Win vs. Gardner-Webb University 27-0

The game went as many expected. Allen would throw for over 300 yards and for two touchdowns. Cooper Rothe would also make two field goals showing that he is a reliable kicker for Wyoming. The defense would only force one turnover this game but did post a shut-out showing that the Iowa game was no fluke and that they were the real deal. While it was a victory the run game still looked like it had failed to find its identity and continued its struggles.

Game 3: Loss vs. University of Oregon 13-49

This game was the only blowout loss this year for Wyoming and confirmed what many people were thinking. The run game for Wyoming was still very poor and forced Wyoming into a lot of third and long situations. A few dropped passes and facing a very tough defense Wyoming had a lot of three and outs. The defense gave up a lot of points but they were also on the field a large majority of the time. The second half the defense made a lot of adjustments that allowed them to give up only seven points in the half despite Oregon still attacking offensively. The defense was also able to cause two turnovers in the game once again showing their ability to create turnovers.

Game 4: Win vs. University of Hawai’i 28-21 OT

This game was a huge character test for Wyoming. After a disappointing loss against Oregon, Wyoming quickly needed to find answers in the run game to help the offense maintain drives and give the defense time to rest. Trey Woods a true freshman converted from linebacker to running back was able to answer the call. Woods would rush for over 100 yards and a touchdown while Allen would only throw for 92 yards in the game but would end up throwing the game-winning touchdown in overtime to James Price in his first game back from injury. Defensively Wyoming gave up a lot of yards but they were able to force two interceptions including the game-ending interception by linebacker Cassh Maluia. Also in this game, Tyler Hall would return a kickoff back for a touchdown showing Wyoming’s ability to score on special teams. Wyoming would win their first trophy year in this game.

Game 5: Win vs. Texas State University 45-10

After regaining some confidence from the previous week Wyoming had a very strong showing against Texas State. Hall would return another kickoff back for a touchdown and the defense would add two more touchdowns of their own allowing for the Cowboys to easily beat Texas State. Josh Allen had a good game as he threw for 219 yards and 3 touchdowns. Logan Wilson and Ricco Gafford would be responsible for the two defensive touchdowns. Wyoming had a lot of short fields to work with but the running game did not accumulate a lot of yardage and once again was inconsistent throughout the game.

Game 6: Win vs. Utah State University 28-23

Once again the defense would step up and help with scoring points. The defense would force five turnovers this game with defensive end Kevin Prosser returning an interception for a touchdown. Carl Granderson would help seal the victory by sacking the quarterback for a safety. Wyoming would trail early in the fourth quarter 16-23 but a field goal by Rothe followed by a touchdown reception by Johnson would complete the comeback and the safety would secure it. Allen would have the one interception in the game but overall the offense took care of the ball but once aging the run game was stagnant and Allen was asked to be more involved in the run game. Wyoming did win its second trophy of the year making the two for two when it came to rivalry trophy games.

Game 7: Loss vs. Boise State University 14-24

This game was to determine who would be atop of the division and help determine who would represent the mountain division in the conference championship at the end of the year. Wyoming started off hot in both halves by scoring on their first drive of each half. After the first drive of the half thought the offense would be unable to move the ball and once again the run game was not effective from the running back spot and Allen would have the most yards on the ground and in the air for Wyoming. Allen would have 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. This would be the first game all year that the defense would not force a turnover and would give up 21 second-half points. This game highlighted the lack of offensive production and the reliance the offense had on the defense giving them a short field to work with.

Game 8: Win vs. University of New Mexico 42-3

The year before the Wyoming defense was embarrassed by New Mexico, this year the Wyoming defense got its revenge by forcing 7 turnovers, 2 of which were muffed punts. Wyoming would force five of them in the first half with all of them leading to touchdowns. The Wyoming offense was able to score 42 points in the first half, 35 of them came in the second quarter with 4 of them being off of turnovers. This game helped renew confidence for Wyoming and showed just how dominant the defense could be.

Game 9: Win vs. Colorado State University 16-13

Wyoming would win their third rivalry trophy of the year making them 3 for 3 in trophy games. From the opening kick, the game conditions were wet due to a rainstorm that turned into a blizzard in the second half forcing the game to be played mostly on the ground. CSU would gain an early lead and keep it for most of the game. Despite the bad conditions, Rothe was able to make all three of his field goals, 2 in the first half and one in the second half. CSU would end up mishandling the hold on a field goal in the second half helping with the Wyoming victory. The game-winning drive was highlighted by senior fullback and captain Drew Van Maanen making an incredible diving catch in the snowy conditions. Running back Kellen Overstreet would run the ball in from 3 yards out completing the late fourth-quarter comeback. This game kept the conference championship hopes alive and it made the Cowboys bowl eligible for the second year in a row.

Game 10: Win vs. Air Force Academy 28-14

The offense had one of its best first halves all year by scoring 21 unanswered points. Once again the offense capitalized on two first-half turnovers forced by the defense and Allen was very efficient in his passing. However, it was in this game Allen would leave the game right after halftime due to an injury to his throwing shoulder. Backup quarterback Nick Smith would enter the game and help orchestrate a touchdown in the second half. The defense would cause a timely turnover and Wyoming would hold out against Air Force.

Game 11: Loss vs. Fresno State University 7-13

Wyoming had chance to win late in the game but was unable to make it happen. Allen did not play in this game. Wyoming had 2 fumbles in the game and was never able to get the run established putting a lot of pressure on Smith. The loss of Allen was apparent on the offensive side of the ball. The defense was able to force a turnover and hold Fresno to only 13 points but it would not be enough.

Game 12: Loss vs. San Jose State University 17-20

Arguably the only unacceptable loss this year Wyoming lost the final game of the season to a team that had only won a single game so far in the season. The defense caused a few turnovers and played well enough but two interceptions by Smith negated the defensive effort and set up San Jose up in favorable positions. Wyoming almost staged a comeback but they were unable to recover the onside kick to get the ball back. The run game was able to get going but due to the two interceptions and not being able to finish drives Wyoming would lose the game.

Game 13: TBD vs. Central Michigan University – Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Wyoming looks to avoid losing the last game of the season and not end the year on three losses just like the previous year. Good news for Wyoming is that Allen is set to return to the starting lineup. With both teams being very good at creating turnover it will come down to which offense can take care of the ball and avoid the costly mistakes. The game is set to kick off on Dec. 22 at 2 p.m. MST on ESPN.

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