The Wyoming Cowboy football team return home to War Memorial Stadium on Saturday to host the Utah State Aggies in a Mountain West Conference contest that will kick off at 12:30 p.m. It will be the first and only home game for the Cowboys in the month of October.
The Wyoming-Utah State series dates back to 1903. The Cowboys have won the last two meetings in the series, winning in Laramie, 52-28 in 2016, and in Logan, Utah, 28-23 in 2017. Wyoming has won 26 of the previous 68 meetings, while Utah State has won 38 times and there have been four ties.
A new tradition was incorporated into a century-old rivalry in 2013 when the Wyoming Cowboys and Utah State Aggies introduced a new “Bridger’s Battle” tradition to the football series between the two schools. As part of the tradition, a traveling “Bridger Rifle” is awarded to the winner each year. The rifle is a .50-caliber Rocky Mountain Hawken rifle that was popular among mountain men of the 1800s, and is widely-considered to be the rifle carried by the legendary Jim Bridger. “Bridger’s Battle” was chosen as the name for the new series due to Bridger’s ties to the Wyoming-Utah region. The Bridger’s Battle portion of the series now stands at 3-2 in favor of Utah State.
Wyoming’s series with Utah State will be renewed for the 69th time this week. That ranks as the fifth longest series vs. any opponent for the Wyoming Cowboys behind only Colorado State (110th meeting in 2018), Utah (83 meetings), BYU (78 meetings) and New Mexico (71st meeting in 2018).
Saturday will mark the 94th Homecoming Game in Wyoming school history, and the 69th Homecoming game to be played in War Memorial Stadium. Last season, Wyoming defeated New Mexico, 42-3, on Homecoming Day. UW’s overall Homecoming record stands at 46-44-3 (.511). The Cowboys’ record in Homecoming games played in War Memorial Stadium is 41-25-2 (.618).
Wyoming will enter Saturday’s game with a 2-5 overall record and an 0-3 record in the Mountain West. Utah State is 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the conference.
Wyoming has played one of the nation’s most difficult schedules to date. Among all 129 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams, Wyoming’s schedule is ranked by NCAA.org as the 36th most difficult. UW’s schedule is ranked No. 2 in the Mountain West behind San Jose State’s and is the 13th most difficult among Non-Autonomous Five (or Group of Five) programs. The opponents the Cowboys have played thus far this season have a winning percentage of 63.2 percent and a combined record of 24-14.
Saturday’s game versus Utah State will be the seventh time in the eight games the Cowboys will have played this season where UW will face a 2017 postseason team. Each of Wyoming’s first five opponents this season -- New Mexico State, Washington State, Missouri, Wofford and Boise State -- appeared in postseason last season. Wyoming’s opponent in Week 6, Hawai’i, didn’t play in a bowl in 2017, but had a 5-1 record at the time the Cowboys played them. Fresno State won the 2017 Hawai’i Bowl and Utah State appeared in the 2017 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. While Wofford, Wyoming’s opponent on Sept. 15, is not an FBS program it did post a 10-3 record in 2017 and advanced to the National Quarterfinals of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Playoffs.
Outstanding Individual Performances
Wyoming has several individuals who are having outstanding seasons. Senior running back Nico Evans continues to rank among the best in the nation. He will enter Saturday’s game ranked No. 1 in the Mountain West and No. 15 in the NCAA in total rushing yards, with 670.
Senior strong safety Andrew Wingard is fast approaching the No. 2 spot on both the University of Wyoming and the Mountain West Conference career tackle lists. Wingard has 422 career tackles. He needs 18 more tackles to tie former Cowboy linebacker Jim Talich (440 career tackles) for second place in Wyoming history. Wingard is only 11 tackles away from tying former UNLV Rebel Adam Seward (433 career tackles) for second place on the Mountain West career chart.
Junior linebacker Logan Wilson leads the Cowboys in tackles with 56 tackles this season – one ahead of Wingard’s 55. They rank No. 11 and 12, respectively, in the Mountain West in tackles this season, and they rank No. 70 and 75 nationally.
Another Cowboy defender who has come on strong the last three games is junior safety Alijah Halliburton. He has led the Pokes in tackles in two of the last three games, making 11 tackles vs. Boise State and eight vs. Fresno State. Halliburton currently ranks No. 3 on the team in tackles this season with 37. He is sometimes inserted into Wyoming’s defense alongside senior safeties Wingard and Marcus Epps in passing situations, and also rotates with those two seniors to provide them some rest.
Junior place-kicker Cooper Rothe remains perfect on the season. He is 9 of 9 in field goals this season, has made his last 12 consecutive field goals dating back to last season and has made 24 of 27 attempts (88.9 percent) over the past two years.
Scouting Utah State
Utah State sits atop the Mountain West Mountain Division standings. They are the only Mountain Division team that remains unbeaten in conference play at 2-0. The Aggies rank No. 1 in the MW and No. 2 in the nation in scoring offense (51.7 points per game). They are No. 2 in the league and No. 23 in the NCAA in total offense (478.7 yards per game). They are led offensively by sophomore quarterback Jordan Love. He ranks No. 3 in the MW and No. 20 in the nation in touchdown passes (14), is No. 3 in the conference and No. 23 in the NCAA in completion percentage (67.2 percent) and is No. 4 in the league and No. 22 in the country in passing efficiency (159.1 rating).
Radio and Television Coverage of Saturday’s Game
Saturday’s game will be broadcast on radio over the 26 affiliate stations of the Cowboy Sports Network, beginning with the pregame show at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. The game will also be televised by AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain. The game will be available on cable and satellite systems throughout the AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain region. The game will also be available throughout the AT&T SportsNet Southwest region on their alternate channel on cable companies that carry the network in those areas. Check your program guide for channel numbers.
Tickets to Saturday’s game may be purchased online at GoWyo.com/tickets, via email email@example.com, by calling the UW Athletics Ticket Office at 307-766-7220 or by stopping by the UW Athletics Ticket Office on the west side of the Arena-Auditorium prior to Saturday. On game day, tickets may be purchased at the ticket office on the east side of War Memorial Stadium. Weather for Saturday’s kickoff is predicted to be clear and sunny with temperatures in the mid-50s.