History of Wyoming Cowboy Bowl Games

2016 Poinsettia Bowl, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
Wyoming (8-6) 21
BYU (9-4) 24

MVP: RB Jamaal Williams (BYU), LB Harvey Langi (BYU)

Former Mountain West and WAC rivals Wyoming and BYU met up in the 2016 edition of the Poinsettia Bowl in Las Vegas. In a rain soaked San Diego, who gets an average of 43 days of precipitation a year, the Poinsettia Bowl started off as a slog through the weather and sloppy football played by both teams. BYU took the ball first and ran the ball to the Wyoming 40 yard line. The Cowboy defense flexed their muscle and forced BYU to punt despite the good field position. In the rainy weather Wood had the football go through his hands and BYU would recover at the Wyoming three yard line. Two plays later Tanner Mangum would find pay dirt as he dove into the endzone. BYU would tack on a field goal before halftime by Rhett Almond to put the score at 10-0. Starting off the third quarter the Cowboys would get the ball coming out of the locker room. Wyoming marched on a 16 play, 60 yard drive that took 8:22 to complete. The result was a touchdown by Brian Hill from four yards out to get the Cowboys on the board. BYU was quick to respond as they went on an eight play 73 yard drive that was capped off with one of the most bizarre plays of the season. Tanner Mangum was being hurried in the backfield when he lobbed up a floater into the endzone. The ball bounced off of Tanner Balderee and then off of two Cowboys and finally landing back in Balderee’s hands for a touchdown. BYUs Jamaal Williams turned in one of his finer performances of his career in his final game for the Cougars in the Poinsettia Bowl. Williams ripped off a 36 yard run down the sidelines to put the Cougars up 24-7 late in the third quarter. Williams would finish the game with 210 yards on 26 carries. The Cowboys marched on a 14 play, 76 yard drive that covered 6:26 as Josh Allen connected with Tanner Gentry in the back of the endzone to creep the Cowboys closer to catching BYU on the scoreboard. The Cowboys began the march down the field once again, this time a seven play 80 yard drive that setup a 25 yard pass from Allen to Gentry again, a beautifully tossed floater over the defense and into Gentry’s hands. With 51 yards to go the Cowboys at least needed to get into field goal range to tie the game, or go for the win. Allen hit Brian Hill for a 19 yard gain getting the Cowboys near Cooper Rothe’s field goal range. On the second play of the drive Allen scrambled to his right and lobbed a pass up that was intercepted by BYUs Kai Nacua to end the game.

2011 New Mexico Bowl, University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
Wyoming (8-5) 15
Temple (9-4) 37

MVP: QB Chris Coyer (Temple), LB Tahir Whitehead (Temple)

The Temple Owls and the Wyoming Cowboys faced off in the 2011 New Mexico Bowl where the Cowboys came into the game as 7 point underdogs to the Owls. On paper the matchup was not good for the Cowboys who were ranked nearly last in FBS in rushing defense while the Owls ranked near the top of FBS in rushing yards. From the get-go the Cowboys were being run-on. The Owls opened up the scoring by going 90 yards in 13 plays and scored a touchdown on a 1 yard run from Bernard Pierce. The Owls kept on going as Pierce scored again from 1 yard out in the 2nd quarter to give them a 14-0 lead in the first half. The Cowboys would get on the board before halftime with a pass from Brett Smith finding Josh Doctson for a 21 yard score, but the Cowboy defense couldn’t hold before the half giving up a 61 yard touchdown pass from offensive MVP Chris Coyer to Rod Streater. A the half the Pokes were down 28-7. Temple added 3 second half field goals to push their lead to 37-7 as the Cowboy defense stiffened up to stifle the high powered Owls rushing attack. The Pokes would get on the board one last time, right before the final gun, when freshman Kody Sutton blasted his way into the endzone on a 14 yard pass from Brett Smith. The two point conversion was successful and the Owls held on for a 37-15 win over the Cowboys. The Cowboys finished with 267 yards total offense, 140 of those coming on the ground. Mountain West freshman of the year Brett Smith finished 20/30 for 127 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

2009 New Mexico Bowl, University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
Wyoming (7-6) 35
Fresno State (8-5) 28

MVP: QB Austyn Carta-Samuels (WYO), DE Mitch Unrein (WYO)

The Wyoming Cowboys and first year head coach Dave Christensen came into the New Mexico Bowl as the underdogs facing the Fresno State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs, who finished 3rd in the WAC, were looking avenge their previous year’s NM Bowl Loss to Colorado State. Wyoming got on the board first when RB Alvester Alexander tore off on a 68 yard touchdown run. Fresno responded when the nation’s leading rusher Ryan Matthews, punched in a 4 yard touchdown pass. The teams continued to trade scores going into the half, with Greg Bolling catching a TD for the Cowboys and Jamel Hamler scoring on a Ryan Colburn TD pass. In the 3rd quarter the Bulldogs took the lead on a WR pass for a score and another Matthews TD run. Down 28-17 in the 4th quarter, Wyoming battled back with a David Leonard TD pass from Carta-Samuels, then a Ian Watts FG to tie the game. In the first OT the teams went scoreless as Fresno State was held on 4 straight down from the 1 yard line and failed to score. Wyoming had the chance to win, but a Watts FG sailed left. In the 2nd OT Wyoming scored on a Leonard TD pass from ACS. Fresno State was held to 5 yards and a 4 and out to close the game, giving the Pokes their first bowl win since 2004.

2004 Las Vegas Bowl, Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
Wyoming (7-5) 24
UCLA (6-6) 21

MVP: QB Corey Bramlet (WYO)

Making their first bowl appearance since 1993 and seeking their first bowl win since 1966 the Cowboys showed up in Las Vegas looking to silence their critics. The Cowboys got on the board first after a Deric Yaussi FG. The Pokes ran the score to 10-0 after Corey Bramlet hit Tyler Holden for a touchdown pass. UCLA responded with a Drew Olsen touchdown pass to Jeff Taylor. UCLA backup quarterback David Koral took the lead when he hit Craig Bragg on a touchdown pass. The Bruins took a 21-10 lead when the two hooked up again on another TD. The Cowboys battled back with a trick play when Javon Bouknight hit backup quarterback JJ Raterink for a touchdown pass, then the Cowboys took the lead for good when Bramlet hooked up with TE John Wadkowski with :57 left to win.

1993 Copper Bowl, Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ
Wyoming (8-4) 17
Kansas State (9-2-1) 52

MVP: WR Andre Coleman (KSU)

This matchup featured the explosive Wyoming Cowboy offense and the even more explosive Kansas State Wildcats, featuring All-American wide receiver Andre Coleman. The Wildcats finished the game with their first ever bowl victory and their most successful season in 83 years. K-State took a 10-3 lead in the first quarter after a JJ Smith touchdown run. The offense took control of the game from there as Andre Coleman finished with 283 yards of total offense, and quarterback Chad May finished with 276 passing yards. The Cowboys lone touchdowns came on a 3 yard Ryan Christofferson run, and a Pratt touchdown to Gustin. Wyoming All-American WR Ryan Yarborough finished with 72 yards receiving.

1990 Copper Bowl, Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ
Wyoming (9-4) 15
California (7-4-1) 17

MVP: QB Mike Pawlawski (CAL), LB Robert Midgett (WYO)

The 1990 Copper Bowl featured the 6-4-1 Cal Bears vs. the 9-3 Wyoming Cowboys. The first quarter of the game went scoreless by both teams. In the second quarter Cal QB Mike Pawlawski connected on a 25 yard touchdown pass to Brian Treggs for a quick 7-0 lead. Cal went into the half up 10-3. The Cowboys scored on a Daffer touchdown run. After the Pokes scored on a punt return for a touchdown, a tie failed when they missed on a 2 point conversion.

1988 Holiday Bowl, Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, CA
Wyoming (11-2) 14
Oklahoma State (10-2) 62

MVP: HB Barry Sanders (OSU), Sim Drain III (OSU)

The 1988 Holiday Bowl featured the 10-2 Oklahoma State Cowboys and the 11-1 Wyoming Cowboys. OSU running back Barry Sanders took control of the game from the start and never let up. Sanders opened the scoring with a 33 yard touchdown run to put the Cowboys on the board. Wyoming followed up with a touchdown run from quarterback Randy Welniak. Sanders scored again to start the second quarter, and from there OSU never looked back. Sanders finished the day with 222 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns. Welniak accounted for both of Wyoming’s scores on the day.

1987 Holiday Bowl, Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, CA
Wyoming (10-3) 19
Iowa (10-3) 20

MVP: QB Craig Burnett (WYO), CB Anthony Wright (IOWA)

The 10-2 Wyoming Cowboys traveled to San Diego to take on the 9-3 Iowa Hawkeyes in the Holiday Bowl. The Cowboys got out to a 6-0 lead on a pair of Greg Worker field goals then increased it’s lead to 12-0 when Cowboy QB Craig Burnett hit James Loving for a 15 yard touchdown. In the 2nd quarter the Hawkeyes blocked a Cowboy punt and returned it for touchdown. Cowboy running back added another touchdown before the end of the half to increase the lead to 19-7. That was the last time the Cowboys would score as they would intercept a Burnett pass in the 2nd half for touchdown, then running back David Hudson scored on a 1 yard touchdown to seal the win for the Hawkeyes.

1976 Fiesta Bowl, Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
Wyoming (8-4) 7
Oklahoma (9-2-1) 41

MVP: QB Thomas Lott (OU), CB Terry Peters (OU)

1968 Sugar Bowl, Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, LA
Wyoming (10-1) 13
Louisiana State (7-3-1) 20

MVP HB Glenn Smith (LSU)

The fifth ranked Wyoming Cowboys entered the game undefeated to face the 6-3-1 LSU Tigers. Wyoming led at halftime by a score of 13-0 on the legs of Jim Kiick who scored a one yard touchdown, followed by a pair of field goals by kicker Jerry DePoyster. LSU rallied in the second half but shutting out the Cowboys and won the game 20-13. MVP Glenn Smith didn’t have a touch until the end of the third quarter. Cowboy quarterback Paul Toscano finished 14/23 for 239 yards. Jim Kiick finished with 75 yards rushing. Here’s a YouTube recap of the Sugar Bowl.

1966 Sun Bowl, Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, TX
Wyoming (10-1) 28
Florida State (6-5) 20

MVP: HB Jim Kiick (WYO)

Most Valuable Lineman: Jerry Durling (WYO)

1958 Sun Bowl, Kidd Stadium, El Paso, TX
Wyoming (8-3) 14
Hardin-Simmons (6-5) 6

MVP: G Leonard Kucewski (WYO)

1956 Sun Bowl, Kidd Stadium, El Paso, TX
Wyoming (8-3) 21
Texas Tech (7-3-1) 14

MVP: HB Jim Crawford (WYO)

1951 Gator Bowl, Gator Bowl Stadium, Jacksonville, FL
Wyoming (10-0) 20
Washington & Lee (8-3) 7

MVP: HB Eddie Talboom (WYO)

The 1951 Gator Bowl featured two up and coming offenses and teams from opposite sides of the country. The Cowboys, who were lining up in the single wing formation, and Washington and Lee in the “new” Split T formation. The Cowboys came into the game undefeated, and the Mountain States Conference champions. They were looked down upon by Washington & Lee supporters saying the Cowboys played a weak schedule. The first quarter ended scoreless for the Cowboys and Generals, but that quickly changed in the first quarter. The Pokes boasting the nation’s top defense, shut down the Generals most of the game. In the 2nd quarter Eddie Talboom found Dick Campbell for an 8 yard Cowboy touchdown pass to make it 7-0. On the following drive the Generals were moving the ball when Selmer Pederson intercepted a Generals pass. Talboom went back to work, completing passes, which setup a 2 yard touchdown run from Talboom. A missed XP resulted in the score, 13-0. In the third quarter the Cowboys got on the scoreboard again as Cowboy fullback John Melton carried the ball in for an 18 yard touchdown run. 20-0 Cowboys. The Generals scored late in the fourth quarter when Gil Bocetti carried the ball into the endzone on a two yard touchdown run. The Cowboys finished the season ranked #10. Harry Geldein carried the ball 11 times for 56 yards. Talboom had 31 yards rushing, 141 passing. Video clips of the game here at YouTube.