The Matchup: Wyoming (3-1) vs UNLV (1-2)

When: Saturday, September 28 @ 6:00 PM MST

Where: Laramie, WY – War Memorial Stadium

TV: ESPNU

Radio: Cowboy Sports Network

Spread: Wyoming -9.5 O/U: 48.5 via OddsShark.com

Wyoming dropped a heart breaker in Tulsa last week for their first loss of the 2019 season. The 3-1 Cowboys will return home this week where they will open Mountain West play with UNLV. UNLV, who is also playing in their MW opener, is currently 1-2 on the season. Their lone win is over Southern Utah and they have losses to Arkansas State and Northwestern. They did not play last week, as they had a bye. 

The Cowboys were 3.5-point underdogs last week and did to cover the spread while the O/U was 47 and it looked like a lock to go over until Sean Chambers fumbled on the goal line in the final mintute. This play found the Cowboys being featured on SVP’s bad breaks segment. This week, according to OddsShark.com, the Cowboys are 9.5-point favorite  the O/U is set at 48.5. It is worth noting,the line has flucuated between 9 and 10 points for the Cowboys and the O/U has dropped from 51 to 47.5, but when we sent out our picks we were at 9.5 and 48.5. 

The Standings:

 

Straight UpAgainst the SpreadO/U

Robert Gagliardi/Jesse Tachiquin

2-23-13-1

Cody Tucker

2-23-13-1

Brad Reed

3-12-2

3-1

Chad Smith3-11-3

3-1

Connor Cunningham2-23-1

3-1

Wyoming Cowboys3-13-1

Over: 1 Under: 3

 

Jesse Tachiquin, MWWire.com

Quick thoughts on Wyoming’s loss @ Tulsa last week?

That was one of the more painful losses in recent years. I knew it would be a tight game but I thought the Pokes would find a way. I think we saw glimpses of what the offense can do but more importantly, we saw the heart that this group of men has. There were a lot of reasons that the team could have let this game get out of hand but they kept pushing through adversity and found a way to not only get back into the game but have a realistic shot to win. As frustrating as their play has been at time, there can’t be any shots taken at their heart and will.

Who was your offensive and defensive MVP from last week’s game?

Offense: QB Sean Chambers Defense:  DE Solomon Byrd 

I’m not sure if getting benched midway through the third quarter lit a fire or just gave Chambers a chance to collect himself but he came back into the game running the offense like I expected to see it from the beginning of the season. The fumble at the 2 yard line that ultimately ended up being the final straw for the Cowboys and will probably be most people’s lasting image of the game but the reality is that Wyoming probably shouldn’t have been that close given the way they played the majority of the game.

On the other side of the ball, The entire defensive line was great in this game but how do you ignore the performance the Byrd delivered on Saturday afternoon? You don’t. 2.5 sacks with a forced fumble and recovery. It was a pretty special performance from the freshman.

Who is your poke pick this week? The passing game

I know the Cowboys offense, especially those in the passing game, are tired of hearing from everyone about how bad they have been. I called it last week but this is the week it happens. They take the momentum from the 4th quarter of the Tulsa game and come out on fire against UNLV. Rocket had a couple of great catches in the second half, the one handed ball that got overturned was phenomenal. This is the week they bust loose.

Wyoming wins if…

They spread the ball and attempt to pass. The Cowboys offense seems to be at their best when Chambers is in shotgun with a couple quick options and the ability to run. The offense can still have the smash mouth identity they want to have without being completely predictable. There seems to be a lot of weapons on this team, they just need to get the ball in open space more frequently.

Game Prediction and one bold prediction…

Chambers throws for at least 200 yards, rushes for 100 yards and Wyoming blows out UNLV. The Rebels are a wounded duck and the Cowboys are looking for someone to take their frustration out on.

Wyoming 38, UNLV 17 (Total Points: 55, over)

 

Cody Tucker, 7220Sports.com

Quick thoughts on Wyoming’s loss @ Tulsa last week?

As bad as Wyoming was at times — like, eight out of 11 drives ending in a punt — I came away from Tulsa more encouraged about this team, especially the offense, than I have been all season. When their backs were against the wall, they went uptempo and found a way to score on two consecutive drives. It was Almost three, which, of course, would’ve won it. I think there are some big time takeaways from this game: Maybe it’s time to speed things up a bit on offense. Less thinking, more playing. We knew this already, but this team has heart. Also, Sean Chambers and his wide outs really made some strides. On every scoring drive, they made plays. They think that bodes well for the future. So do I.

Who was your offensive and defensive MVP from last week’s game? 

Offense: Receivers Defense: LB Chad Muma

It wasn’t exactly a breakout game, but my offensive MVP(s) are the wide receiving corps. Dontae Crow made a beauty of a catch late in the fourth, Raghib Ismail made a pair of contested grabs, and Austin Conway found the soft part of the defense hauling in three passes and of course, Ayden Eberhardt snagged the 53-yard touchdown pass. That was a big-time confidence game for those guys.

Defensively I will go with Muma. During the game, I found myself asking “Is that Wyoming’s next great linebacker?” Muma finished with seven tackles, a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. Yes, Solomon Byrd and Alijah Halliburton stole the show, but Muma is looking better and better each week. He could be really good.

Who is your poke pick this week? Wyoming’s linebackers 

UNLV’s O-line has given up 11 sacks through three games this season. Wyoming is tied for fourth in the nation with 18 team sacks. The Cowboys have handed out 137 lost yards already, which leads the country. Solomon Byrd is getting to the quarterback with more frequency each week. Garrett Crall and Josiah Hall are always threats to take down the passer.  But, I think the Pokes continue what they started in Tulsa and bring blitzes all night long. It was successful at times at Tulsa, but Zach Smith was a freak of nature. He stood in the pocket, took a pounding and delivered the ball on time seemingly every time. Armani Rogers isn’t known for that. He will try to scramble. He also holds onto the ball way too long. That won’t be a winning recipe in Laramie. Logan Wilson will be busy covering a pair of solid UNLV tight ends, so will Muma and Cassh Maluia. But all three will get their chance to get to Rogers. And, I think, they will. Give me the Pokes linebackers this week.

Wyoming wins if…

They contain Charles Williams and create turnovers. In my opinion, it’s really that simple. Make Rogers beat you through the air. Chances are, he can’t. Make UNLV go on long, extended drives. Chances are, they can’t. The Rebels are a big-play team with little offensive consistency, aside from Williams. That dude is the real deal. He is averaging 9.1 yards per carry and he can make guys miss, run through defenders and break the long ones. If the Cowboys contain Willaims they will be in good shape. Turnovers are main reason for the 3-0 start they need to cause some on Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium. Smith threw the ball 50 times last Saturday, he was sacked seven times and he ended up on his rear end after nearly every pass. How did the Cowboys get only one turnover out of that? That can’t be the case this week.

Game Prediction and one bold prediction…

Like I said before, I think Chambers and the passing game really gained some confidence at Tulsa. I think that carries over.  I see them trying to be balanced across the board, much like they did on all their successful drives in Tulsa. Wyoming finally wins big this Saturday. No last-minute, fourth-quarter heroics stuff. This is a statement game. Dare I say — a must win. My bold predictions are that Xazavian Valladay goes over 150 yards and the Cowboy defense finishes with at least three takeaways. Heck, I’ll even say UW scores on one of those. Let’s get really bold and say Wilson steps in front of a tight end and takes it to the house.

Wyoming 34, UNLV 13 (Total Points: 47, under)

 

Brad Reed, WyoNation.com

Quick thoughts on Wyoming’s loss @ Tulsa last week?

Going into the game I didn’t think the Pokes would win this game.. with the lack of offensive production and Tulsa being somewhat able to throw the football I thought there might be a recipe for a blowout. I was wrong. The Pokes had a chance to win the game with less than a minute to go. An ill-timed Sean Chambers turnover ended that hope, but still somewhat encouraging. The Cowboys still aren’t real great on offense, Chambers rode the bench for a little bit, the Pokes sustained a few injuries, but they’re still a favorite heading into UNLV. I guess that’s a good thing? Onto a better week, and back at the War.

Who was your offensive and defensive MVP from last week’s game?

Offense: Sean Chambers Defense: Alijah Haliburton 

Chambers’ three total touchdowns and nearly a fourth were the power behind the Wyoming offense last week. The Cowboys are very reliant on Chambers and as he goes, so does the offense.

Man, Haliburton was a monster last week. He finished with 17 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack. This guy was all over the field. Play makers like him are keeping the Cowboys in football games.

 

Who is your poke pick this week? Wyoming offensive line

This group is VERY beat up headed into the week with the injuries to Alonzo Velazquez and Logan Harris. The line will feature all sophomores and a redshirt freshmen. This week they will be counted on to keep Chambers upright and open holes for Titus Swen and Xazavian Valladay. I don’t foresee the passing attack being real effective again this week, so the rushing attack will be counted on to carry the Pokes to another win.

Wyoming wins if…

Kind of related to the above comment, but the offensive line has to hold down the fort for the team this week. They must play mistake free, keep the Rebels out of the backfield, and keep the ball carriers upright long enough to spring a few runs. The Cowboys also need to clean up the defensive secondary. Giving up 300+ yards of passing every week isn’t going to be sustainable. If I know this, I’m assuming that Jake Dickert does too and is working with his defensive backs. The aggressiveness of the defense can’t be questioned, they are getting turnovers and hitting the quarterback.. now if we could get that passing thing right. 

Game Prediction and one bold prediction…

My bold prediction this week is the Cowboys will hold UNLV to under 300 yards passing and nab at least one interception

Wyoming 23, UNLV 13 (Total Points: 36, under)

 

Chad Smith, WyoNation.com

Quick thoughts on Wyoming’s loss @ Tulsa last week?

I don’t like being right about picking Wyoming losses but I have to call them as I see them. Unfortunately, I was also right about my prediction for the passing game. Even though the coaches were talking the talk there was little to no change in what we saw from the first few weeks and the production was even worse. The coaches seem to be in a round hole and square peg mode and they really need to look in the mirror and find what will work best for this football team. The good news is with the very poor passing and all the injuries in a very physical game Wyoming had a chance to the very end. The fumble at the end of the game was unacceptable and hopefully, that will be a learning experience for Chambers and the rest of the team. 

Who was your offensive and defensive MVP from last week’s game?

Offense: N/A Defense: N/A 

The MVP’s last week were the Wyoming medical and training staff and the Tulsa emergency medical services who were busy all game in a very physical football game that saw some major injuries. Thankfully Wyoming offensive lineman Logan Harris is okay after being taken off the field via ambulance.  

Who is your poke pick this week? Wyoming’s rushing attack

We will see who is healthy and who is playing but UNLV has allowed over 200 rushing yards in each of their last two games. Wyoming comes into this week averaging 214 yards per game good for 34th in the nation. They should have some success against the Rebels.  

Wyoming wins if…

They run the ball like there is no tomorrow and play sound defense. The passing game is completely broken and if it was going to get fixed it would have been fixed by now. The Pokes will have to lean on running the  ball and defense to win which could make for a stressful day. 

Game Prediction and one bold prediction…

The game will be close but a second-half defensive touchdown or a turnover that gives the Pokes the ball inside the UNLV 20 yard line will push Wyoming over the top.

Wyoming 27, UNLV 16 (Total Points: 43, under)

 

Connor Cunningham, WyoNation.com

Quick thoughts on Wyoming’s loss @ Tulsa last week?

The game played out very much like I thought it would. I knew it would be a one possession game and the Cowboys had every opportunity to win the game. It was encouraging to see them in it right at the end, considering they only had a noticeably hurt Valladay and a walk on running back to help in the backfield. They took the lead and the defense had a melt down, but the score they gave up left enough time for Chambers and company to march down the field. Unfortunately, Chambers had an uncharacteristic turnover at the absolute worst possible time. I love that he was trying to make a play to win the game, but he has to know the situation and take the field goal and overtime rather than be the hero. Hopefully he learns from his mistake. I don’t know what to think, it was awfully gut wrenching to lost that way, but they overcame a lot of injuries, made some plays in the passing game, and gave themselves a chance to win when they had their backs up against the wall. 

The worst part about it is that I took the Cowboys to win and the over, unfortunately they ended up 3 yards of getting me both in my picks. 

Who was your offensive and defensive MVP from last week’s game?

Offense: Sean Chambers Defense: Defensive Line

It seems weird given Chambers’ flaws in the passing game that he continues to be the MVP on offense, but he is. He finished the game with 3 total touchdowns, ran for 83 yards and finally made some plays in the passing game in the 4th quarter. Something changed for him after Tyler Vander Waal made his first appearance of the season. Hopefully he gained some confidence throwing the ball, because he seemed lost in that regard for the first 15 quarters this season. 

A lot of guys stood out on defense for me and it’s nearly impossible to ignore Halliburton’s second 17 tackle game but the d-line dominated. Solomon Byrd (6 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF 1 FR, and 1 1PBU) led the way but Victor Jones(8 tackles 1.5 TFL) Garrett Crall (5 tackles), and Javaree Jackson (1.5 TFL, 1 sack) all had monster games. This group has really come on strong and becoming pretty dominant up front. Byrd has really impressed in the last two weeks and looks like he could impact a game the way we saw Carl Granderson do it these last few years. 

Who is your poke pick this week? Wyoming Defensive Line

This group has been so good, I am going to continue to talk about them down here. The defense is currently in the top 20 in 4 very key stats and they all have to do with their domination up front. They currently rank 18th in the country in rushing yards allowed per game at 85 yards/game, 13th in yards allowed per carry with 2.31, tied for 4th in sacks at 18 and 6th in total tackles for loss with 36. This kind of play is forcing teams to throw the ball, which partially explains why they are giving up more passing yards than many would like to see. 

The d-line needs to continue their strong play by containg UNLV running back, Charles Willaims (151.67 yards/game) and force Armani Rogers to beat them they will put Wyoming in a very strong position to move to 4-1 and 1-0 in conference play.

Wyoming wins if…

They win the turnover battle and stay healthy in the backfield. The Cowboys can’t afford to lose running backs at the rate they are. I fully expect Valladay to be on the field and am hopeful that Titus Swen is out there too. I also expect to see Alphonso Andrews Jr. to make his Cowboy debut. Depth is a concern while Trey Smith is out, but the new redshirt rule will allow the Cowboys to give Andrews a look. Andrews was a 3 star recruit from St. Louis and had offers from BYU, Arkansas, Air Force, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisville. It will be interesting to see what he brings to the table. 

Game Prediction and one bold prediction…

I expect another great crowd at War Memorial Stadium Saturday night and I expect the Cowboys to feed off of that and put together their best game of the season. My bold prediction is that I think the Cowboys will force multiple turnovers in the first half allowing them to take control early and lead by 2 touchdowns at halftime. 

 Wyoming 34, UNLV 20 (Total Points: 54, over)

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