Bowl Eligible: Cowboys Hoping for an Invitation, Odds Are Not In Their Favor

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The Cowboys finished the regular-season on a roll, winning their final four games, earning bowl eligibility for the third year in a row for the first time since 1997-99.

Being eligible, however, does not mean engagement with a date to a bowl game.

The Cowboys were not invited to a bowl at all during that 1997-99 stretch.

Wyoming, in fact, is coming off back-to-back bowl appearances for only the second time. They lost to BYU, 24-21, in the Poinsettia Bowl two years ago, and beat Central Michigan, 37-14, in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl a year ago.

Their other back-to-back appearances were in the Holiday Bowl when they lost to Iowa 20-19 in 1987, and lost to Oklahoma State, 62-14, in 1988.

There is no arguing the fact that in the last five weeks, the Cowboys have been one of the hottest teams in College football, rallying from a 2-6 start the season to finish the regular season with a 6-6 record.

Their defense began to play like their defense was expected to play, capped off by holding New Mexico to 83 yards total offense on Saturday – 49 yards rushing, and 34 yards passing.

And their running game was charged up. Four times in the last five games the Cowboys had two players gain more than 100 yards each on the ground. Nico Evans was one member of the duo all four times. Despite a severe right ankle sprain that kept coach Craig Bohl from proclaiming Evans ready to play until game time, Evans carried 19 times for 142 yards, and redshirt freshman Xazavian Valladay had his first 100-yard game, carrying 22 times for 197 yards.



But there is a logjam of bowl eligible teams.

There are currently 81 teams with six or more wins, but only 78 bowl berths. And Virginia Tech, which knocked off Virginia for the 15th consecutive season on Saturday, is 5-6 with a game next Saturday against Marshall. A win would make Virginia Tech the 82nd bowl eligible team, adding to the Cowboys challenge.

The MWC, with only five Bowl agreements, has seven eligible teams. Boise State, Fresno State and Utah State are all 10-2. Hawaii is 8-5. San Diego State and Nevada are both 7-5. And then there is Wyoming at 6-6.

Among the variety of Bowl Projections available on Sunday, only two projected the Cowboys. NBC Sports had Wyoming playing Tulane in the Frisco Bowl. Kyle Bonagura, one of two predictors at ESPN, has the Cowboys playing Arkansas State in the Nova Bowl in Tucson.

A key to both is Oklahoma advancing to the final four in the college Football Playoffs.

If Oklahoma Wins and Central Florida loses in conference title games next weekend, a Mountain West team would be in line to be the non-power 5 school in either the Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl or Dec. 29 Peach Bowl. The two other Selection Committee Bowl Games have conference commitments – the Sugar Bowl to the Big 12 and SEC, and the Rose bowl to the Big 10 and Pac-12.

If that happens, the Cowboys would be in line to fill the MW commitment to the Tucson Bowl with one of the three 10-2 Mountain West teams getting an invitation to the Redbox Bowl in San Francisco because the Pac 12 does not appear to have enough qualifying teams to fill it’s commitments.