The roads in and out of Laramie were not kind to Wyoming football fans. The Fresno State defense was not kind to a Josh Allen-less Wyoming offense. The Wyoming Cowboys (7-4) struggled to find their offensive rhythm until late in the fourth quarter in a 13-7 loss to Fresno State who improved to 8-3. The win over the Cowboys clinched the Mountain West Western Division Championship and an appearance in the Mountain West Title Game for the Bulldogs.
In total, Wyoming only gained 308 yards with 231 of those yards coming through the air via the arm of Nick Smith. The offense failed to rush for 100 yards for the 5th time this season. The offense especially struggled on 3rd down converting just 2 of 14 chances for a season-low 14.3% conversion rate. Some of the play calls on 3rd down were questionable with the Cowboys calling a QB run in short yardage situations a time or two too often.
The highlight of the game for Wyoming offensively was a 7 play, 80-yard drive that ended with a Nick Smith to Nico Evans 6-yard touchdown pass with 2:25 left in the fourth quarter. Wyoming would then attempt an onside kick that failed but the Poke defense stood tall forcing a punt giving Wyoming the ball at their own 20-yard line with 50 seconds on the clock and no timeouts. Nick Smith would hit Austin Conway for a 41-yard pass down the east sideline on the first play of the possession moving the ball to the FSU 39-yard line and giving the Pokes some hope. The game was then in question until the final snap of the game where Wyoming was facing a 4th and ten at the Fresno 27-yard line where Nick Smith was sacked for no gain failing to get a potential game-winning pass off.
Instead of one key series, this section is going to read like A Series of Unfortunate Events. Trailing by 3-0 with 12:57 left in the second quarter the Wyoming offense failed to convert a 4th and 1 from the Fresno State 37 yard line. Fresno would take over on downs but the Wyoming defense would stuff the Bulldogs who lost 1 yard on three plays, thus forcing a punt. Austin Conway would muff that resulting punt at the Wyoming 21-yard line and Fresno cashed in on their very first play of the drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass from McMaryion to Rivers. That made the score 10-0 Fresno State and was the lone touchdown of the game in a 13-7 Wyoming loss.
“You had two of the top scoring defenses in our league and those numbers bared out today. Our recipe for success is to do well with the turnover margin and that wasn’t in our favor today. For us to win that was going to be an important factor. We had a shot to win at the end, somewhat unconventional, but none the less there was a chance. I applaud our plays, but I also want to congratulate Fresno State. They’ve got a good football team. They play hard, smart and clean. Coach Tedford has a good team, but I believe we’ve got one too. I told our team we win as team and lose as a team. We will support one another and hold our heads up high and get ready for the next week.”
Wyoming Football Coach Craig Bohl
– The Cowboys finish their 2017 home slate of games with a 5-2 record with the only losses coming to Oregon and Fresno State.
– Josh Allen may not have the gaudy numbers he put up in 2016 but you can see how much the Wyoming offense missed him against the Bulldogs. Gaudy numbers or not Josh Allen is the Wyoming offense and the fans will appreciate him a lot more after today.
– Speaking of the QB position, the battle to be the 2018 signal caller is wiiiiiiiiiiide open.
– Gillette, Wyoming’s Austin Fort showed some great versatility today in conventional and wildcat formations. He is an impressive offensive weapon who needs to get the ball more in the final games of this season in preparation for 2018.
– The Wyoming defense played its hearts out once again giving up just 13 points and 308 yards (both under their season averages) with very little help from the offense until late in the 4th quarter.
Quick Box Score
Score by Quarters
QB Nick Smith: 20 / 32 – 231 passing yards, 1 passing TD
RB Kellen Overstreet: 10 rushes – 31 yards
WR Austin Conway: 7 catches, 105 yards
S Andrew Wingard: 12 tackles, 1 forced fumble
CB Tyler Hall : 5 tackles, 1 forced fumble
Wyoming goes to California on November 25th to take on San Jose State (1-11) in the final game of the 2017 regular season. Kickoff is at 3:00 pm MT and the game can be seen on ESPN3.