Wyoming got back to their winning ways in dramatic fashion last week. The Cowboys stopped San Diego State on a two point try with no time remaining to hold onto their 34-33 win. The Cowboys rebounded nicely after a disappointing loss in Las Vegas the week prior. The win ran the Cowboys record to 8-3, 6-1 and keeps them in complete control of their own destiny. It has been a memorable season thus far for the Pokes and their faithful.
Here are the 5 things I think this week:
1. The defense played a good football game
The Cowboy defense came into Saturday’s match up coming off of a game where they gave up 69 points and more than 600 yards of offense in their loss to UNLV. In order for the Cowboys to have a chance to beat SDSU, they needed to be better, and they were. In fact, they were a lot better. They held a potent offense to less than 400 yards, 99 of which came in the last minute of the game, and kept SDSU under 180 yards on the ground, where they do most of their damage.
Maybe the most important stat was that they held SDSU to 5/12 on third down, which got the defense off the field. Also, twice SDSU put together solid drives and got inside the red zone, but the defense stepped up and limited those drives to field goals. The defense wasn’t great, but they were certainly better and in the end, just good enough to get the win.
2. Josh Allen Bounced Back
Allen didn’t play very well at UNLV the week prior to the SDSU game. Don’t get me wrong, he still made some great plays but his timing was off and he made some poor decisions with the football. Last week I said I thought Allen would bounce back and I was right.
Allen was fantastic on Saturday afternoon, as he has been all season at home. Allen once again made plays with his arm and his legs. The RS Sophomore finished the game with 282 yards passing and 2 TDs and added 56 more on the ground. Allen was particularly good on 3rd down (9/17) and 4th down (2/2). Allen might trust his arm a little too much at times, but he sure can make some amazing plays and has NFL caliber arm strength. The Cowboys will need him to be good once again on Saturday down in Albuquerque.
3. Time of Possession was key
In last week’s loss at UNLV, the Rebels dominated the time of possession 38:19 to Wyoming’s 21:41. That led to the defense being on the field for 97 plays, 653 yards, 69 points, and a disappointing loss. The two most important stats to Wyoming football are the turnover ratio, this week was even, last week the Cowboys were -3 and time of possession.
Against SDSU, Wyoming won the battle for TOP 36:43 to 23:17, including 12:22 to 2:38 in the 3rd quarter. Obviously, allowing two KR touchdowns is going to help Wyoming win TOP, but the Pokes did a good job of playing their own game despite allowing those big plays and had long drives for points in all 4 quarters. 3rd and 4th down conversions were key and outside of the two special teams mistakes Wyoming was clearly the better team all day.
4. Craig Bohl’s aggressiveness won the game
Craig Bohl coached on Saturday to win the football game from the beginning. I know that seems obvious, but Bohl made some gutsy, aggressive calls that paid off. Bohl knew that SDSU has one of the top offenses that Wyoming was going to see this year and obviously did not want to give them the ball without the Cowboys getting points. Twice Bohl went for it on 4th, including one on Wyoming’s go ahead drive. Bohl trusts his sophomore quarterback, Josh Allen to make big plays in big moments and on Saturday it worked out and Bohl was rewarded with a big win.
5. The Wyoming Cowboys are playing for a chance to host the MW Championship
There are a hand full of scenarios that could play out this weekend in regards to the MW championship. The most important is that Wyoming controls their own destiny. For the Cowboys, it’s simple. Beat New Mexico and host the Mountain West Championship on December 3rd at War Memorial Stadium. Let that sink in, Cowboy fans…. Has it sunk in? Didn’t think so.
The fact that the Pokes are in this position is crazy and almost unimaginable. Coming off a 2-10 season I think most Cowboy fans would have been happy with 4-5 wins and ecstatic with 6 and a bowl game. Reality is with a win, the Pokes will be 9-3, 7-1 in the Mountain West, 2 wins over ranked teams, 6-0 at home, and hosting the conference championship in Laramie. It has been a special season with a lot of drama and has a real chance to be even more special.