We are one day away from the 2017 football season, Cowboy fans! As we have done the last couple years, we will be bringing you game predictions every Friday, along with some other commentary. Representing WyoNation will be myself, Chad Smith and Brad Reed and special guests Brandon Foster of the Casper Star-Tribune and Robert Gagliardi from Wyosports.net will be joining us. We will keep a tally of everyone’s record throughout the season for both straight up and against the spread (ATS).

As we all know, the Cowboys are traveling to Iowa City to take on the University of Iowa Hawkeyes. It is a challenging task for the Pokes, who are led by highly touted QB Josh Allen. Craig Bohl enters his 4th season at the helm after a breakthrough season in 2016 season (8-6) that saw the Cowboys host a MWC Championship. There are high expectations in Laramie and it starts Saturday. The Cowboys were a 12.5 point underdog when the email went out to the panel.

 

Straight Up

Against the Spread

Robert Gagliardi

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Brandon Foster

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Brad Reed0-0

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Chad Smith

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Robert Gagliardi, Wyosports.net

What are your initial thoughts and feelings on the 2017 Wyoming Cowboys? Record prediction? 

Pretty good thoughts and feelings overall, and having a QB like Josh Allen helps a lot. I think the defense will be better, and must be for this team to have success. I am a little uneasy about how the run game will work, some recent shifts along the offensive line and how younger receivers take on new roles. 8-4 overall, 6-2 MW.

Who is your pick for breakout player of 2017? WR C.J. Johnson

Johnson will be among the MW leaders is catches, yards and TDs

Poke Pick: QB Josh Allen

Allen needs to play mistake free and get other unproven weapons involved.

The Cowboys Win if…

They can be somewhat balanced offensively, win the turnover battle and get off the field on third down defensively. A solid start will help, but the Cowboys must play well from start to finish.

Game Prediction:

Will be a good, physical, hard-fought game. Wyoming 16, Iowa 27

 

Brandon Foster, Casper Star-Tribune

What are your initial thoughts and feelings on the 2017 Wyoming Cowboys? Record prediction? 

While Wyoming’s breakout 2016 answered a lot of questions about the direction of the program, the offseason still left a lot in question. How will the Pokes replace skill position studs Brian Hill, Tanner Gentry, Jacob Hollister and Jake Maulhardt? Will the defense bounce back with a new coordinator? How will Josh Allen handle the spotlight? I’m still optimistic overall, if only because of a belief in Allen and Craig Bohl, but it wouldn’t shock me if the Cowboys had a fallback season. Still, I’ll go with 7-5.

Who is your pick for breakout player of 2017? Youhanna Ghaifan

We saw a little of Ghaifan could do last year and he’s drawn raves in camp. The sophomore brings so much energy to the defensive line, and with a year of experience, he could be one of the more dangerous D-linemen in the conference.

Poke Pick: WR John Okwoli

C.J. Johnson and Austin Conway are more experienced (though not exactly veteran), but Okwoli might need to be the most James Price-like of Wyoming’s receivers in terms of physicality. Price had taken over as the leader of the group, on and off the field, and Wyoming will need players to step up in his absence.

The Cowboys Win if…

Their defense can keep Iowa’s run game in check. The Hawkeyes likely won’t beat Wyoming through the air, given Iowa’s turnover in the passing game. And Wyoming’s pass game should have some success, especially with a starting Iowa cornerback suspended. But Wyoming’s run defense might have been the team’s biggest weakness in 2016, and the Hawkeyes have two dangerous dudes in the backfield.

Game Prediction:

Like the first three quarters of the Nebraska game last year, I expect Wyoming to contend for a while in this game. Unlike that game, I don’t expect Wyoming to completely implode in the fourth quarter. Still, I’ll need the Pokes’ defense to prove something to me before I feel comfortably picking an upset over a Power Five team. And while I feel Iowa is a more beatable team than Oregon, I like the Home Cowboys much more than the Road Cowboys. Wyoming 21, Iowa 35

 

Brad Reed, Wyonation.com

What are your initial thoughts and feelings on the 2017 Wyoming Cowboys? Record prediction? 

This season is certainly reason to be excited for fans! The Pokes are coming into this season with more hype and excitement than we’ve seen in a pretty long time. Josh Allen is coming into the season as one of the most hyped players in college football. He’s been named to several award watch lists, listed on the Heisman Trophy odds list (100/1), and is being interviewed by literally every major media outlet in the country. There are certainly a lot of questions about this year’s team. Who will replace Brian Hill’s productivity? Can the Cowboys replicate the production they lost from Tanner Gentry, Jake Maulhardt, and Jacob Hollister? Can new coach Scottie Hazelton transform the defense into a power house? Lots of questions, but lots of reasons to be excited. The Pokes have a tough slate of games, lots of question marks on offense to start the season which may meld together as the season goes on. I can see an 8-4 year for the Cowboys.

Who is your pick for breakout player of 2017? DE Carl Granderson 

He’s bigger and stronger coming into this season. His previous season was cut short due to injury. I think he’s going to be a legitimate force on the edge for the Cowboy defense.

Poke Pick: QB Josh Allen

Josh Allen. This game, on the road vs Iowa, is a chance for Allen to showcase his talent for the country to see. This will be a legitimate shot for Allen to show why people think of him as a top five draft pick in the upcoming NFL draft. After a somewhat disastrous effort last year vs Nebraska Josh Allen needs a signature win, to pad his resume of all-time great performances.

The Cowboys Win if…

Control the ball, control the turnovers. Cowboys can’t afford many mistakes against the Hawkeyes on the road. The Cowboys need to take care of the football. They also need to make redzone opportunities count every single time. The Pokes have to score when presented a good opportunity. The Pokes are familiar with Iowa’s running back, James Butler, containing him and James Akrum will be important for the Cowboys as well.

Game Prediction:

Going to be a grind it out win for the Cowboys and Wyoming wins on a Cooper Rothe field goal. Wyoming 35, Iowa 32

 

Chad Smith, Wyonation.com

What are your initial thoughts and feelings on the 2017 Wyoming Cowboys? Record prediction? 

As we discussed on the WyoNation Podcast there is a lot to like about this team. Bohl finally has the size and depth he wants in a program. Things are looking up but there are many questions on both sides of the ball. In a worst case scenario this team could go 5-7 and in a best case, it could go 9-3. I will split the difference and say 7-5 is the most likely record. 

Who is your pick for breakout player of 2017? WR C.J. Johnson

I will go to the offensive side of the ball and pluck out the sophomore WR C.J. Johnson. He has the size and speed to be the favorite target of Josh Allen this season after catching 21 balls for 304 yards and 3 TDs last season. I could see him having around 60 catches for 1,000 yards and 10 TDs this season.

Poke Pick: Safety Andrew Wingard

Iowa will run the ball often and with that in mind look for safety Andrew Wingard to have a double digit game in terms of tackles after posting seven of those last season.

The Cowboys Win if…

The Josh Allen magic is real and the hype train becomes a bullet hype train.

Game Prediction:

The Pokes play hard but the physical nature of Iowa will be too much to overcome on the road. Iowa could score a lot more than 34 if they get the run game rolling.  Wyoming 13, Iowa 34

 

Connor Cunningham, Wyonation.com

What are your initial thoughts and feelings on the 2017 Wyoming Cowboys? Record prediction? 

I think the Cowboys are poised to do some good things in 2017 after a breakout 2016. They have the potential to win some big games. It all starts with Josh Allen, he has garnered a lot of attention this off-season and looks primed to be a top pick in next spring’s NFL Draft. I think he will have a monster season if he can cut back on the bad decisions with his arm. The defense, led by a new d-coordinator should be as good and as deep as it has been under Craig Bohl and I like where the kicking game is at with sophomore Cooper Rothe. I think the Cowboys could win 10 games this season, but I will say 8-4 (6-2 MW) with a bowl victory to cap off the season.

Who is your pick for breakout player of 2017? RB Milo Hall

Hall had a great prep career at Cherry Creek HS (Denver, Co.) where he was the 5A player of the year. The RS. Sophomore comes into the season #1 on the depth chart but does not have any career rushing attempts. I think it may take a little time, but he should be a nice weapon for Josh Allen and the offense.

 

Poke Pick: DE Carl Granderson

The Cowboys defensive line has it work cut out for them and need to put pressure on Iowa early. If the Pokes defense can put Iowa in passing situations, Granderson could make some game changing plays.

The Cowboys Win if…

They limit their mistakes, cause a couple of turnovers, and score points early on. Momentum in a game like this is key. I would like to see them score early and try to quiet the Iowa crowd. If the defense can get early stops and the offense can put up a couple first half scores they should be in the game until the end.

Game Prediction:

I like the Cowboys chances tomorrow. Craig Bohl has a history of knocking off P5 opponents early in the season. In his time at NDSU he beat Minnesota, Kansas State, and Kansas. Last year, Craig Bohl’s former program went to Iowa and won. I would imagine he has been in contact with his buddies at NDSU and has formed a nice game plan. With that being said, it is going to be a tough game. Wyoming 27, Iowa 21.

 

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