The 2022 NCAA Division I FBS football season is rapidly approaching, with Week Zero kicking off with ten action-packed games on August 27. The Wyoming Cowboys head to the Memorial Stadium of the Illinois Fighting Illini under the guidance of Craig Bohl, who begins his ninth year in charge. Cowboys hope to use winning the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl as the foundation on which to build a successful 2022 season.
Last season was one of mixed emotions for Wyoming Cowboy fans. The Mountain West media days, which took place at the luxurious Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, saw the media pick Wyoming to finish second in the Mountain Division behind the Boise State Broncos. Even the American-friendly online sportsbook BetUS was confident that the Cowboys would fly high. Still, those predictions did not come true, with Wyoming finishing fourth in the Moutain West Conference with a 2-6 conference record and a 7-6 record overall. If it is any consolation, Boise State also faltered, ending with a 7-5 overall record as Utah State topped the conference.
The 2021 season started well, with Wyoming emerging victoriously in their opening four games. A 19-16 win at home against Montana State was followed up by a high-scoring 50-43 victory on the road at Northern Illinois. Ball State was no match for Wyoming on Week 3, with the Cowboys running out 45-12 winners before the boys beat UConn on their turf, 24-22 during Week 4.
Weeks 5-8 were equally disappointing as the opening four fixtures were promising. Defeats at the hands of Air Force, Fresno State, New Mexico, and San Jose State left the Cowboys nursing a 4-4 record going into the season’s final stretch. Particularly hard to take was drawing a blank offensively in the 17-0 defeat at home to Fresno State and then being toothless again in a 14-3 loss to New Mexico, also at War Memorial Stadium.
Winning the Border War 31-17 against Colorado State in week 9 was one of the highlights of the season as the Bronze Boot returned to Laramie. This was followed by a victory at Utah State (44-17) to secure the Bridger Rifle giving Cowboys fans something to cheer about. The season was capped by a 52-38 victory over Kent State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
The Cowboys played two signal-callers last season, with Sophomore Sean Chambers and Freshman Levi Williams playing nine games each. Williams was impressive at times, finishing with 72 completions from 120 attempts, 990 yards, nine touchdowns, and a 145.7 rating. Williams was the MVP in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, thanks to scoring four rushing touchdowns. After the season Chambers eneded up in the transfer portal going to Montana State and Williams to conference rival Utah State.
Xazavian Valladay shone at running back, carrying for 1,060 yards (5.1 yards average)and six touchdowns. However, the talented youngster has since transferred to Arizona State and will be missed. Titus Swen will likely receive more carries this coming season than the 132 in 2021, where he averaged 5.9 yards and scored seven touchdowns.
On the receiving side of things, Isaiah Neyor, now of the Texas Longhorns, received 878 yards (20.0 average) and racked up 12 of the Cowboys’ 15 receiving touchdowns.
The 2022 season could prove difficult for the Wyoming Cowboys after losing several key players to Power 5 schools. The aforementioned Xazavian Valladay will be missed, as will Isaiah Neyor on the perimeter.
However, the most significant loss may prove to be that of Chad Muma. The 6 ft 3 in, 242 lb linebacker was selected 70th overall in the NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both Muma’s father and grandfather played for Wyoming, and it is safe to say he was a great servant for the Cowboys. Muma made 266 tackles in four seasons (145 solos), 19 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, and even managed three interceptions and a pair of touchdowns. Although Muma is almost impossible to replace, no doubt Cowboys fans will be checking out the Jaguars games to see if their former star man features in the NFL in 2022.