It’s that time of year again. A time filled with hope, optimism and anxiety for the new football season to start. I, for one, am ready to put last year’s dreadful performance behind me. The Wyoming Cowboys finished with a dismal record of 2-10. But hey, that was 2015 and the fresh season has brought new confidence in the program. We are finally getting to where we can compete on a consistent basis.

The 2016 schedule is not a real favorable one. There are several tough matchups, kicking off the season with a “Group of 5” perennial powerhouse in Northern Illinois. The Huskies went 8-5 with 2 losses coming in the MAC Championship and to MWC mammoth Boise St in the Poinsettia Bowl. They’re a very good team, which makes this betting line interesting.

Northern Illinois is coming to the War as a 10 point favorite. Last year, they averaged 31.1 points per game while giving up 27.6. Wyoming, on the other hand, scored 19 each game while giving up 34. Those numbers alone give reason to doubt that we can cover a 10 point spread. Never has Northern Illinois come to Laramie, and I think that they will have a tough time handling it.

Everything being said, a new season brings cause for optimism. With more consistent QB play from Josh Allen, combined with the horses that drive the offense in Brian Hill and Shaun Wick, we will score more than 19 points per game. We are bringing back two playmakers on the outside, both decent sized that will have plenty of opportunities in the red zone.

Am I saying there will be enough offensive improvement to win? Possibly. But until the defense can prove they will stop somebody, there is a legitimate reason to doubt. Prediction for this week? Wyoming loses in a close one. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m calling a 28-24 Huskies victory. That’s a good launch point for the season.

Over/Under? The line on it is 55.5. Last year, Wyoming had 8 games on the under. Early in the season, this is going to be your safe bet.

**Not so lock of the week**

Back by popular demand, it’s my “Not so lock of the week”. Week 1 and week 2 are really where you make your money.  BYU/Arizona is kicking off at the same time the Cowboys and Huskies do. Right now, Arizona is favored by 1.5. BYU has a new system, new coach, new offense and a starting quarterback coming off an injury. They have something to prove. BYU, as much as it kills me to say it, will win this game. Take the Cougars.