Wyoming hosted its first Mountain West championship on Saturday night with a berth to the Las Vegas Bowl on the line. On a chilly night in Laramie the Cowboys got on the board first but couldn’t keep that lead as they were defeated by San Diego State 27-24 in front of 24,001 fans.
Both offenses struggled at times during the game, but enough rushes against the undermanned Wyoming defensive line proved to be successful for the Aztecs. The Aztecs, who played in their second consecutive Mountain West championship rushed for 253 yards on the Cowboys.
Craig Bohl told the players when he was hired three years ago that “those who stay will be champions.” The Cowboys drive to a Mountain West title was halted on the last drive of the game as Josh Allen was sacked on a 4th and 20 deep in Cowboys territory.
The outcome was certainly not what the Cowboys, Poke nation, or anyone wanted, but the Aztecs were hungry for revenge after a last second loss to the Cowboys back in November. The Aztecs came into the Mountain West championship as seven point favorites.
To the Cowboys’ credit they played considerably well on the defensive side of the football despite having three starters not available for the game. The Cowboys won’t lean on that excuse, however. Execution at key times in the game could have easy tipped the scales the other direction. Missed opportunities will haunt the Cowboys.
The Cowboys were down by as many as 14 points at one point but battled back to get the game within three in the final minutes. The Cowboys started a drive with 4:01 left in the game that could have potentially tied or given the Cowboys the lead. Instead the Cowboys went four and out and turned the ball over deep in their own territory.
The Cowboy defense had one more miracle in their system, however. The Aztecs were facing fourth and four from the Cowboy 15 yard line. Instead of opting for a field goal Rocky Long chose to go for it. Aztec quarterback Christian Chapman was strip sacked by Youhanna Ghaifan and the Cowboys were back in business.
Starting from their own 24 the Cowboys attempted to make their move. A long pass to CJ Johnson fell incomplete after he bobbled it through his hands near midfield. The Cowboys ended the game on a five yard sack of Josh Allen.
Jacob Hollister said on Sunday night that Craig Bohl has a 24 hour rule when it comes to losses. The Cowboys were certainly stung by this game, but a bowl game awaits for them on December 21st.
The Cowboys accepted a bid to play in the San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. They will face long time WAC and Mountain West rival Brigham Young on the evening of December 21st. The Cowboys and Cougars have a long history dating back to 1922. Brigham Young leads the all-time series 30-44-3. The last time the two faced off, in 2010, the Cowboys lost a close one in Provo 25-20. The Cowboys have not beaten the Cougars since 2003.
Many Cowboy fans old enough to remember are still bitter to this day about the 1996 WAC championship in which BYU beat the Cowboys in Las Vegas 28-25. The Cowboys not only lost the WAC championship, but despite a 10-2 finish they were excluded from a bowl game that season.
With the Cowboys being on a seven year losing streak to BYU they are certainly looking for a bit of payback.
Tom Burman said on Sunday that he expects that the Cowboys fans will have no trouble selling out their allotment in tickets in San Diego. He also said that if the Cowboys are not familiar with the BYU rivalry and history they will be by December 21st.
The Cowboys have not played in San Diego for a bowl game since 1988 when the Pokes took on Barry Sanders and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. They also played in San Diego in 1987 against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Cowboys have an overall record of 6-7 in bowl games. This is an opportunity to get things back to .500 in their bowl history.
For Cowboys fans looking to go to San Diego for their bowl game they are encouraged to get their tickets from gowyo.com/tickets. Fans can also get tickets in person at the Wyoming Athletics ticket office by calling 307-766-7220 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cowboys fans can make travel arrangements through New Horizons Travel by calling 970-223-7400. Note that you can also book flights into Los Angeles (LAX), Santa Ana (John Wayne) or Ontario airports instead of flying directly to San Diego.
There are a number of events going on for fans during the week including:
Gaslamp March featuring Western Thunder Marching Band, Pistol Pete & UW Spirit Squads. 6:00PM, Horton Plaza Park Amphitheater, Free for all fans
Lunch on the USS Midway (purchase tickets through bowl website: http://www.sandiegobowlgames.com/)
UW Alumni Gathering: Harbor House, 831 W Harbor, San Diego; 6PM, all fans are welcome, cash bar
Official Wyoming Tailgate at Qualcomm Stadium, starting at 2:30pm PST
Presented by The Cowboy Joe Club, Alexander Excavation Inc, Infinity Power & Controls, Western States Bank, Cannon Oil & Gas, Cowboys in Colorado, Bud Light, Coors Light and the Brown & Gold Outlet
Location: Tailgate Lot at Qualcomm Stadium
Includes: Premium All-American Tailgate Buffet, 3 drink tickets for water, soda, Coors Light or Bud Light plus access to the Brown & Gold Outlet Retail Location
Exclusive Tailgate Rally Towels for the first 500 fans
Appearances from Western Thunder Marching Band, Pistol Pete, and UW Cheerleaders
Order Tailgate tickets in advance: Adults ($35), Kids under 21 ($20) until December 12th (by mail) or December 16th (online)
Day of game Tailgate Tickets (Limited availability): $45
Purchase your game & tailgate tickets: http://bit.ly/2h3irAU
The game will air on December 21st at 7:00pm Mountain from Qualcomm Stadium. The game can be seen on ESPN.