After three straight losses the Wyoming Cowboys are heading their wagons east in hopes on grabbing a victory over the Toledo Rockets. Wyoming (1-3, 0-1) showed a much improved effort last week against Air Force but still came up short in the 20-14 loss. Meanwhile Toledo (3-1, 2-0) has had an opposite trend this season. After blowout loss to Arizona the Rockets have run off three straight victories in a row including a 31-20 road victory over Purdue last weekend.
Despite the long road trip the Cowboys have had success while playing teams east of the Mississippi. The Pokes have won their last three road games east of the Mississippi: Florida Atlantic - 2009, Tennessee - 2008, Ohio - 2007. Wyoming boasts a 5-2 record against MAC opponents.
Last year the Rockets were known as a "all offense and no defense" team but that role has swapped this year. The Rocket defense was supposed to be a huge liabilty coming into the season. With twelve sacks and fourteen takeaways on the year the Rockets are ranked tenth in the nation in turnover differential at 1.50.
The Toledo offense is lead by Sophomore Austin Dantina duel threat QB who is very comparable to his Wyoming counterpart Austyn Carta-Samuels. Dantin is averaging 146 yards passing and 34 yards on the ground so far this season. With four passing touchdowns and four rushing Dantin is very dangerous in the red zone. His best performance was last week against Purdue with 209 yards in the air and four total td's (two passing, two rushing). Dantin has been picked off four times and sacked nine times this season.
WR Eric Page is the favorite target of Dantin with 23 receptions for 250 yards on the year. At 5-10 165 Page is a speedster that had over 1100 yards as a freshman last year. Adonis Thomas is the leading rusher on the team with 188 yards but Dantin gets the call when near the endzone.
The big question for Wyoming is which version of the spread will the Cowboys roll out on Saturday. In the first three games the Pokes went with a pass heavy version of the spread and the offensive line really struggled in creating blocking lanes for the running game. Against Air Force Coach Christensen altered the offense by bringing the linemen closer together and adding a fullback to help protect the quarterback and for run blocking. The Cowboys more then doubled their season run output with 174 yard rushing as a team.
The offensive line looked much more comfortable with the tighter formation and going with a run heavy offense is nothing new for the Cowboys despite running the spread offense. Last the Wyoming averaged 37 rushes per game and only 31 passes in the first year under Christensen.
Coach Christensen and offensive line coach Jim Harding will be on familiar ground as both have spent plenty of time at Toledo. Christensen spent nine years at offensive coordinator offensive line coach for the Rockets while Harding was a standout linemen in Toledo. Christensen is well aware of the visitors locker room at the Glass Bowl and says it is one of the worst out there. There is barely room for 25 players and only a couple players can shower at a time.
WHO WOULD WIN IN REAL LIFE?
A rocket versus a Cowboy? Assuming the rocket can actually be launched then I would say this is not a close fight. Any type of rocket or missle will easily takeout a human.
Verdict: Be prepared for a very close game on Saturday. Time of possesion will be key and this one could be decided late in the game.