Cowboys Getting Tested by MW Scheduled Front-Loaded From the Top
Wyoming will complete the final hurdle in what is the most challenging first-half of a Mountain West football schedule a team could face, hosting Utah State in the Homecoming Game at War Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Utah State arrives with a 5-1 record, the only blemish a 38-31 loss at No. 24 ranked Michigan State to open the season. The Aggies have won five in a row since then, outscoring the opposition by an average score of 59-21.
They opened the MW schedule with lopsided wins against Air Force (42-32) and UNLV (59-28) last Saturday. In between the conference wins, Utah State(5-1, 2-0) stunned BYU, 45-20, at Provo.
The Cowboys three previous MW games have come against Boise State (4-2, 2-1), and at Hawaii (6-2, 3-0) and Fresno State (5-1, 2-0). Utah State and Boise are 1-2 in the Mountain Division, and Hawaii and Fresno are 1-2 in the West division.
The final four MW games won’t include as strong of competition – at Colorado State (3-4, 2-1), home with San Jose State (0-6, 0-2) and Air Force (2-4, 0-3), and at New Mexico (3-3, 1-1).
The Aggies, averaging 51.7 points per game, rank second among Division I schools to Alabama (53.6).
At other extreme is Wyoming. The Cowboys offense has failed to score a touchdown in the last two games.
And that has coach Craig Bohl admitting changes are under consideration, although he said not to expect any announcements prior to kickoff at War Memorial at 12:30 p.m., on Saturday.
“We need to look at personnel changes,” said Bohl. “There will be some schematic things we need to do. Certainly we are scratching our heads to score points.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Vander Waal has gone through a humbling learning experience as the Cowboys starting quarterback. His 99.78 percent quarterback rating ranks 113th out of 116 qualifying quarterbacks.
“I thought last week (Vander Waal) did some good things in the game,” said Bohl, “but obviously not where we need him to be. He will need to make some better reads. … We will take a hard, hard look to see what he can do better.”
The glaring stat concerning the Cowboys defense is that they have converted only 29 of 99 third-down plays – a 29.3 percentage that ranks 129th out of 129 teams in the NCAA rankings.
The Cowboys came out of the Fresno State “probably as healthy as we have been,” Bohl said. “We went through the game without any injuries that I know of.”
For the first time this season, the depth chart handed out Monday was exactly the same as the one distrubted a week earlier.
Another story of travel nightmares for the Cowboys after the Fresno State game.
Two weekends ago, it was a trip to Hawaii, which is a known factor. After a game that started at 10 p.m., MDT, the Cowboys flew home and landed in Laramie after 1 p.m., on Sunday.
At least they knew that going in.
Now, this past weekend, that’s another story.
After a night game at Fresno, they were scheduled to fly directly to Laramie, with an anticipated arrival around 3 a.m. The weather, however, did not cooperate. The flight could not land in Laramie. It had to be diverted to Denver.
But there’s more. Buses weren’t available, but after sitting on the tarmac for two hours, the buses that were chartered to transport the Colorado football team to Boulder, returned to DIA, picked up the Cowboys, and took them to a Denver hotel.
They finally arrived back in Laramie around 3 pm., on Sunday.