The Matchup: Wyoming (0-0) vs Montana State (0-0)
When: Saturday, September 4th @ 2:00 PM
Where: Laramie, Wyoming – War Memorial Stadium
TV: Mountain West Network (online)
Radio: Cowboy Sports Network
Spread: Wyoming -19 O/U: 45.0 via OddsShark.com
The Pokes open the 2021 season at home (WITH FANS!) versus Montana State and former Wyoming offensive coordinator Brent Vigen who was hired as the Bobcats head coach last winter. Will the Cowboys start the season on the right foot? Read on to find out!
As you live in Montana, what can you tell us about this Bobcat team? What players could cause Wyoming some damage?
As a long-time Montana resident (according to my LinkedIn this week), and expert Bobcat hater, I can say that the Montana State Bobcats are not a bad team. There is a certain amount of rebuilding the Cats will be doing, and the Bobcats had a good part of last year off due to the pandemic, there is a good chance this team will be very eager to play football but also be rusty. Obviously, Wyoming fans are familiar with the new Bobcat head coach, Brent Vigen. In talking to a few Bobcat fans in my travels around golf courses I would say the fans seem excited about Vigen, which makes me wonder if they own a television. I can see a scenario where Vigen will be a better manager than coordinator. His offenses at Wyoming were a bit of a dumpster fire at times, especially in a season where seven current NFL players resided on the offensive side of the ball, but the Bobcat faithful seem to think his teams will be good.
One face Wyoming fans will recognize on the Bobcat sideline, other than Vigen, is former Cowboy linebacker Adam Pilapil, who is an assistant with the Bobcats now. That all being said, one face for the Pokes will remember is linebacker Troy Anderson. Troy Anderson is a man amongst men in the FCS ranks. He’s a stud athlete who will be playing on Sundays. Troy is an outside linebacker who also occasionally lines up at running back or where ever the Bobcats think they need him. He’s that damn good. He’s from a small Montana town called Dillon, and carries that small town chip on his shoulder. He could spend a significant amount of time in the Cowboy backfield.
Tim Polasek is the new offensive coordinator, will Wyoming fans see a discernable difference in the offense come Saturday?
I’m actually very excited for Tim Polasek to come to Laramie and be an offensive coordinator. I feel like the Wyoming offense has been largely stagnant and not all that effective for a few years. The Cowboys and Vigen were ready for a change of scenery and that’s a totally fair thing in college football. Vigen was a Craig Bohl carry-over from North Dakota State but sometimes you just need something different, this could be beneficial for both programs and honestly, doesn’t hurt either program. Maybe Wyoming’s offense will become awesome, and maybe the Bobcats will be awesome too (FTC, I hope not). I think Polasek recognizes that the passing attack -has- to be more effective. Wyoming rushing attack is obviously very good and there are a lot of playmakers to keep that on track. You’re not going to win the Mountain West by running the football all the time, ask Air Force to show you all of their Mountain West champion trophies. The Pokes don’t have to be Hawaii, but they don’t have to be Army. San Diego State has won plenty of Mountain West championships with great defense and adequate quarterback play. That’s all Wyoming needs to do to be elite in this conference.
Off the wall thought/prediction?
I think Wyoming spends a split second in the conversation for a New Years Day bowl game. I don’t think they will reach one, but that should be their ceiling. Boise State looks extremely vulnerable this season, maybe San Diego State or Fresno State slip, maybe Wyoming wins the Mountain West, maybe Cincinnati gets too big for their britches, and maybe Wyoming enters the chat.
Nice day in Laramie, the Bobcats are rusty, Wyoming’s defense is going to be terrific, the Wyoming OL gives Troy Anderson a dose of humility before he heads back to the Big Sky, and the Pokes win by 20.
Wyoming 38 – Montana State 13
Will the Wyoming defense be the Wyoming defense we’ve grown to love the past five seasons?
I’ll admit I was very skeptical of the hire of Jay Sawvel as the defensive coordinator last year. Then after the season-opening game versus Nevada that saw the Pokes give up 37 points, I was in full I told you so mode. Yet, after that game, the Cowboy defense was very solid (outside the Border War) and Sawvel proved to be a good fit for the football program. This season with all the players returning from injuries and COVID opt-outs the defense has outstanding talent and depth. I would expect the Wyoming defense to play at a high level putting the fate of the Pokes season in the hands of the offense (GULP).
What non-established player will flash on Saturday?
The two-deep depth chart has a few newcomers and emerging players who could see playing time on Saturday. I’ll throw two names out there in hopes of hitting on one as Wyoming looks to find a passing game that looks and feels like a legitimate Division I passing attack and not the comedy of errors we’ve seen the past several seasons.
- TE Colin O’Brien- The JUCO transfer played sparingly last season and was a 3-star recruit. At 6-6, 238 pounds he’s a large target that should be ideal in the shirt and intermediate passing game that will give Wyoming more balance.
- WR Jaylen Sargent- A true freshman from Logan, Utah has been talked highly of by Bohl and the rest of the coaching staff through fall camp. He’s not on the two-deep depth chart, but I think Wyoming will have a package of plays set for him as he plays his first college football game.
Off the wall thought/prediction:
Imagine this crazy scenario for a second: The Brent Vigen coached Bobcats of Montana State come out running some type of version of the run and shoot and march up and down the field on the Pokes scoring points at will. This truly would be a Wyoming fans hellscape after the struggling offense the past few seasons we’ve had under Vigen. This is very unlikely to happen on Saturday (I HOPE) but is still in my mind because Wyoming Football can’t have nice things.
Openers are always hard to predict. Then you add to the equation Montana State has a new coaching staff and Wyoming has a new offensive coordinator. We know Wyoming can and will run the ball and the Wyoming defense will be strong. That should be more than enough to get the Cowboys a comfortable win with the passing game finding its feet under Polasek.
Wyoming 27 – Montana State 10