From the desk of Tim Harkins
The Wyoming Cowboys return to the road Saturday to take on the Fresno State Bulldogs in a Mountain West Conference cross-divisional matchup. The Cowboys are looking for their first conference win of the season. They enter Saturday’s game with a 2-4 overall record, 0-2 in the Mountain West. Fresno State is 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the conference.
Saturday’s game is scheduled to kick off at 8:30 p.m., Mountain Time (7:30 Pacific) from Bulldog Stadium in Fresno, Calif. The game will be televised on ESPNU. The Cowboys Sports Network radio broadcast will begin with the pregame show at 7:30 p.m., M.T.
Saturday’s game will be the 12th meeting between the two schools. The Cowboys trail by one game in the overall series, 5-6. All but one of the previous 11 meetings was a conference matchup -- Western Athletic Conference from 1992-97 and Mountain West Conference from 2012-Present. Wyoming won the lone non-conference meeting by a score of 35-28 in double overtime in the 2009 New Mexico Bowl when Wyoming was a Mountain West member and Fresno State was still a member of the WAC.
Last year’s meeting was a low-scoring game dominated by the two teams’ defenses. The Cowboys rallied late, scoring a touchdown with 2:25 remaining in the game to narrow Fresno State’s lead to 13-7. Wyoming then followed that scoring drive with a final drive of the game that saw the Cowboys take the ball all the way down to the Fresno State 27-yard line. But on the final play of the game, Cowboy quarterback Nick Smith, playing for an injured Josh Allen, was unable to escape the Fresno State pressure and was tackled before he could get a pass off as time expired. Fresno State held on for the 13-7 victory to capture a road win in Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium.
Wyoming Defense Had Outstanding Performance at Hawai’i
Wyoming’s defense put together one of its best performances of the season against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors last week. The Cowboys:
•Held Hawaii to 17 points -- 25 points under its season average of 42 points per game and its lowest point total of the season.
•Limited the Rainbow Warriors to 304 yards of total offense -- 191 yards under their average of 495 yards.
•Allowed Hawaii only 148 passing yards -- 203 yards below its 351-yard average.
•Generated two takeaways, one interception by defensive end Carl Granderson, who returned it for the Cowboys only touchdown, and a fumble recovery by nickel back Tyler Hall, who also forced the fumble by ripping the ball out of a UH running back’s arms.
•Tackled Hawaii players for seven tackles for loss for -22 yards and sacked the UH quarterback five times for 17 yards in losses.
•Broke up five Hawaii pass attempts -- two by defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan.
Wyoming has 28 players on its roster from the state of California. That is the most of any state represented on the Cowboy roster. The next two closest states are Colorado (24) and Wyoming (21).
Of Wyoming’s 28 players from California, five are from the immediate Fresno area: Jevon Bigelow, RB from Fresno; Nick Szpor, Holder/QB from Fresno; Sidney Washington Jr., CB from Fresno; Sean Chambers, QB from Kerman; and Isaac Leppke, WR from Dinuba.
Evans’ Amazing Season Continues
Senior running back Nico Evans added a second consecutive 100-yard game on Oct. 6 at Hawai’i, marking his third 100-yard rushing game of the season.
At Hawai’i, Evans set a personal best with 192 rushing yards, eclipsing his previous high of 190 in the 2018 season opener at New Mexico State. He averaged 8.0 yards per carry vs. the Rainbow Warriors, and had a long run of 63 yards.
Evans currently leads the Mountain West in total rushing yards (612) and ranks No. 14 nationally. He hasn’t played in the NCAA minimum 75 percent of his team’s games to rank in some other categories. But his 153.0 yards-per-game average would rank No. 1 in the MW and No. 3 in the nation, and his 7.85 yards per carry would rank No. 1 in the league and No. 5 in the country.
James Price Among Nation’s Leaders
Senior wide receiver James Price is having one of his best seasons as a Cowboy. Price has already caught 12 passes for 236 yards and one touchdown. His 236 yards leads the team. His one TD reception was a 72-yard catch and run against Boise State in Week 5. Price is averaging 19.67 yards per reception to rank No. 28 in the nation in that category.
Dontae Crow Plays a Unique Dual Role for Pokes -- Punter and Punt Returner
In Wyoming’s game at Hawaii on Sept. 6, sophomore wide receiver Dontae Crow from Sheridan, Wyo., started his first college game. But he didn’t start at wide receiver, he started at punter for the injured Tim Zaleski.
Crow punted five times for a 43.2-yard average, with a long punt of 46 yards. He was extremely consistent in punting the football for 40, 43, 46, 45 and 42 yards. The last time he had punted in a game was in high school. Crow was one of the greatest soccer players in Wyoming state history in high school.
Cowboys Will Return Home Next Week
After two weeks on the road, Wyoming will return home Saturday, Oct. 20 to host Utah State for Homecoming. That game will kick off at 12:30 p.m.