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Wyoming came out flat last weekend and lost to New Mexico 52-35. Luckily, the Cowboys got some help from around the league and still find themselves hosting the 2016 Mountain West Conference Championship game. They will take on San Diego State, whom they defeated in a thrilling game 2 weekends ago. Kickoff is at 5:45 pm and the Cowboys are expecting a good crowd. Should be an electric atmosphere and another good game.

Last week the Cowboys did not cover the spread, as they came in as road favorites. This weekend, the Cowboys are 7 point dogs at home. They are currently 7-4 ATS this season.

The standings are as follows:

 Straight UpAgainst the Spread
Robert Gagliardi4-82-9
Brandon Foster4-84-7
Brad Reed7-54-7
Chad Smith6-63-8
Connor Cunningham7-56-5
Wyoming Cowboys8-47-4

 

Robert Gagliardi, Wyosports.net

What are you initial thoughts on this matchup?

Two good offenses and two defenses that have taken their lumps the last few weeks. I don’t think San Diego State has the injury list Wyoming has, and even though the Cowboys put 34 points and almost 500  yards of total offense on the Aztecs two weeks ago I think San Diego State has the big edge on defense — and special teams.

Offensive Poke Pick: QB Josh Allen

Whether it is through the air or on the ground, he’s going to have to make plays and protect the football. I think running back Brian Hill plays a big role as well, but this team will have to stay in the game — and try to win it — with Allen.

Defensive Poke Pick: Defensive Line

This group doesn’t need to record a ton of tackles or sacks — although that wouldn’t hurt. But it needs to — at very least — hold its own and not get blown off the ball so the back seven can make plays behind it. If UW loses the line of scrimmage up front, it’s done.

What does Wyoming need to do to win?

Possess the ball and score on offense, get key stops on defense, win the turnover battle and not allow two kickoff returns for touchdowns like it did two weeks ago.

Championship Prediction:

A similar score as two weeks ago, but this time San Diego State comes out on top. Wyoming 31, SDSU 38

 

Brandon Foster, Casper Star-Tribune

What are you initial thoughts on this matchup?

I think this matchup bodes fairly well for Wyoming, just considering they played like the better team two weeks ago if not for the kickoff returns. That said, I’m reeeeally worried about the Cowboys’ defense after the New Mexico performance. Although, I’m not sure it’s going to be night-and-day different from two weeks ago.

Offensive Poke Pick: QB Josh Allen

He’s the biggest reason Wyoming has six more wins than it did a year ago. He’s a guy who clearly lives for the big moments and this is the biggest game he’s ever played in.

Defensive Poke Pick: DT Sidney Malauulu

Craig Bohl said there’s a chance Malauulu (foot) could play, and if Wyoming can get some depth on the interior defensive line, that would be huge. They’re already starting a sophomore and a freshman there with not much in the way of experienced backups.

What does Wyoming need to do to win?

Wyoming needs to hold SDSU below 40 points. That might not sound like a tall task, but I think this is going to be a shootout. Wyoming’s defense is faltering down the stretch, and though they stuffed Pumphrey two weeks ago, I expect the Aztecs’ offense to produce a little more this time around. Wyoming’s offense is good enough to keep up, and I think if the Pokes can just get a few more stops than they did against the Lobos, they’ll be able to eke it out.

Championship Prediction:

Quite frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me if San Diego State won this game comfortably. The Cowboys’ defense has me that worried. Still, I have enough faith in Wyoming’s offense that I think that will be enough to win. I’m going to say 42-38 Pokes. Hope I’m right. For once.

Brad Reed, Wyonation.com

What are you initial thoughts on this matchup?

This should be an interesting match-up. Both teams are coming off of being blown out last week and are looking for some rebound winning. Since this is a championship game, plus both teams egos are pretty hurt, I’m guessing we’re going to see a pretty intense game in Laramie. The game feature two running backs who were named to the first team all-Mountain West team. Quick hot take: They both will probably factor significantly into this game. This could also be the last time Poke fans get to see Brian Hill play in War Memorial Stadium. The Cowboys need to be on top of their game to win this one. Both teams need to have a short term memory from the match-up they had three weeks ago.

Offensive Poke Pick: QB Josh Allen

Allen will be the X factor in this game. We know what Brian Hill is going to do. The Pokes need more than Brian Hill to grind out a win in this one. The weather is not going to be ideal, but Allen is going to need to complete some key passes to win this game. Moving the ball with his feet is always welcomed as well.

Defensive Poke Pick: LB Lucas Wacha

Wacha is going to be important to help contain the Aztec rushing attack. The Aztecs are seventh in the country in rushing offense, and one of the only non-triple option teams that run the ball more than they throw. That said, the Cowboy defense needs to be on its toes for the whole game. No missed tackles. Force turnovers.

What does Wyoming need to do to win?

Pretty simple game plan, really. Don’t let Donnel Pumphrey and Co. beat you. That means don’t miss tackles when you have the opportunity to beat them. Force a couple of turnovers. Judging by the last game, make sure not to give up special teams touchdowns, those are known to be game changers. The weather should play into the Cowboys’ favor, however, if the Pokes want to make this about the weather they better be ready to be Cowboy tough. That means hitting the Aztecs hard, often, and being the more physical football team for 60 minutes. The weather only plays a factor when you make the other team quit because they’re tired of being cold and beaten.

Championship Prediction:

Tough game, and I think it’ll be as close as last time. Wyoming 34, San Diego State 31

 

Chad Smith, Wyonation.com

What are you initial thoughts on this matchup?

This is a very interesting game as it is a rematch of just a few weeks ago. Both teams are coming off blowout losses so we will have to see who is able to bounce back confidence wise the most. Wyoming being at home has an advantage and the crowd should provide a great atmosphere for the Pokes. San Diego State does not have a win over a team with a winning record and Wyoming is undefeated (6-0) at home this season.

Offensive Poke Pick: QB Josh Allen

Josh Allen and Brian Hill are both vital to this offense but in this game, the success of Josh Allen is more vital. San Diego State finished the regular season with the #1 rush defense in the MW allowing just 113 yards per game. Wyoming ran for over 200 yards in their last meeting and the Aztecs will be looking to shut down Brian Hill. The Pokes will have to throw to set up the run in this game.

Defensive Poke Pick: Defensive Line

The defensive front seven is the key to this game for Wyoming. Without Granderson, Appleby and May the Cowboy front 7 is not as strong as it could be. The front 7 will have to make their fair share of plays in order for the Wyoming defensive backs not to be isolated as they were last week against New Mexico.

What does Wyoming need to do to win?
Here are the three things that need to happen for Wyoming to become Mountain West Champions:

  1. Get off to a good start and put a seed of doubt in the Aztec’s minds.
  2. Win the turnover battle (goes without saying)
  3. Clean up the special teams. Any kick return for a score or sets up an easy score will be difficult to overcome in the end.

Championship Prediction:

This is a very difficult game to pick a winner. Wyoming has two things going against them. First, it is generally difficult to beat the same team twice in a season. Second, the injuries on the Wyoming defense are a cause of great concern. This will be a close game and whoever makes the least amount of mistakes will win the championship bout. I will take SDSU in a close one as I don’t think the Wyoming defense can do what they need to do to win down three starters. Wyoming 34, SDSU 37

 

Connor Cunningham, Wyonation.com

What are you initial thoughts on this matchup?

I think these two teams matchup well. I think Wyoming outplayed SDSU in their first matchup. Outside of two KR touchdowns and last second drives in each half the defense played very well. The Cowboy defense has been stout against traditional run defense for much of the year and that is going to need to continue this weekend. They are down 2 starters this week that they had in the first meeting. It will be interesting to see how UW replaces DJ May. On the flip side, SDSU has been good against the run and have a 3 headed monster in their backfield. It should be a very fun and electric atmosphere Saturday night.

Offensive Poke Pick: RB Brian Hill

Hill has been so good for so long we almost take his ability for granted. He consistently runs for 100+ yards and has over 20 TD’s. It might be a bit windy Saturday night and it is going to be cold. I think Hill has a monster game and bullies an SDSU defense that isn’t used to playing in the cold weather. If he can lower his shoulder a few times and make it sting, they are going to back off a bit.

Defensive Poke Pick:

I don’t have a specific player or position group this week. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to list multiple guys. Saturday has to be a team effort. They are going to need to fill their assignments, wrap up, gang tackle, cause turnovers, and win third down. Hopefully the backups can fill in adequately and the defense can turn in one of their better performances of the year.

What does Wyoming need to do to win?

The offense needs to be the defense. They need to control the ball, move the chains, score and win TOP. On the flip side, the defense needs to limit the big plays and cause a turnover or two. It would be big if Wyoming could seize momentum early to get the crowd into the game right away through a 3 and out or getting the ball first and scoring. The crowd and cold are big advantage, UW needs to use them.

Championship Prediction:

7 in a row at War Memorial Stadium, including 6-0 this year. I think Craig Bohl and his Cowboys get the job done again. Wyoming 41, SDSU 31

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