Laramie, WY – It was an exciting season opener for the Wyoming Cowboys who defeated the Northern Illinois Huskies 40 to 34 in triple overtime on Saturday night/ Sunday morning in Laramie. The Pokes entered the game as ten point underdogs and had multiple chances to pull off the upset in regulation and overtime. It was not meant to be though (at several times) as freshman kicker Cooper Rothe missed potential game winning field goals of 37 and 48 yards. Here is a hockey style three stars focusing on three outstanding players representing both teams who excelled in their opening game of the 2016 college football season.
Third Star: Wyoming S, Andrew Wingard
The now sophomore safety from Arvada, Colorado picked up where he left off after his solid freshman campaign. The play-making defensive back led the team in tackles with 12 total (seven solo) and one tackle for loss on a defense that looks much improved both physically and mentally from a year ago. It was Wingard’s 8th game where he totaled over ten tackles in his career and there is a good chance he will rack up at least 10 more before this season is over.
Second Star: Northern Ill. WR, Kenny Golladay
I haven’t been this impressed with a visiting player in Laramie, since I saw Brian Urlacher play for the New Mexico Lobos in the late 1990’s. Golladay a senior from Chicago, Illinois was an offensive force for the Huskies both through the air and on the ground. He caught ten passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns while also adding an additional 82 yards on the ground with a touchdown via six jet sweep carries. Golladay looks to have an NFL future and could be drafted in the middle rounds of the 2017 NFL draft. Bottom line is there won’t be many WR’s the Pokes will face this fall who are better than Golladay.
First Star: Wyoming QB, Josh Allen
Making his second career start for the Cowboys, Josh Allen not only completed the game (after being injured for the season early in his only start of 2015 against Eastern Michigan) but he ended up winning the game for the Brown & Gold on an athletic QB scramble. Allen was not spectacular in his overall performance but was solid completing 19 of 29 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns while posting a QB rating of 159.2. He also contributed 10 carries for 70 yards on the ground including the game winning touchdown scramble of seven yards in triple overtime to secure the win over the Huskies.
Allen has all the tools to be a top QB in the Mountain West as he possesses mobility and an arm that can make all the throws. He showed that ability in flashes tonight and the good news for Wyoming fans is he should only get better with more playing time at the FBS level. He still has a bit of ‘gunslinger’ in him and as he adapts to the mental side of the game he should only improve.