Troy Babbitt-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Welcome to the latest installment of Panel of Pokes.
With the bye week upon us it seemed like a perfect time to try and catch our breathe. The Cowboys 1-3 record is certainly disappointing but there are still eight games and anything can happen. Since college football is so unpredictable we gave our panel the challenging task of trying to tell us what will actually happen. Well they were certainly up for the task. Brad was so excited he nearly wrote 1,000 words this week.
Here is the official topic we discussed.
Predict the remaining eight games of the season. What will the Cowboys final record be and will they see a bowl game?
Enjoy these predictions and please make your own in the comments.
I'll try a shot in the dark game by game prediction heading into the bye week.
The Cowboys go 2-2 on road trips at Nevada/Fresno/UNM/UNLV with the most likely losses coming at Nevada and Fresno State.
I'll make a bold prediction and say the Pokes come lights out against Boise State and upsets the Broncos in Laramie.
Wyoming beats CSU, Air Force, and San Diego State at home. I really like Wyoming's chance beating the Aztecs in Laramie in mid-November.
Wyoming will score a lot of points this season, as long as Brett Smith stays healthy and should be enough to win some shoot outs.
They finish 7-5 and 6-2 in league play and end up in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.
With 8 games left in the Mountain West football season the Cowboys need to take advantage of this bye week and fix their defense first and foremost. If they want to end this season on any kind of a high note and go bowling the defense has to be fixed before anything. Tackling has been a huge issue, as has missed assignments. The Mountain West regular season is going to kick off in just over a week for the Pokes and their first opponent will be Mountain West newcomer Nevada.
The Wolf Pack are fresh off of a win over Hawaii on the islands. Needless to say they impressed a lot of people and imposed their will on the hapless Warriors. Nevada's tailback Stefphon Jefferson set a Mountain West record with 7 touchdowns against Hawaii. If the Cowboys are going to win this game first and foremost they have to slowdown Jefferson.. but to add to the pain they also have to stop dual-threat quarterback Cody Fajardo, who play much like the Pokes' Brett Smith. I just can't find a reason why the Pokes will win this game. Nevada appears to be the emerging favorite to win the MW and I think they'll beat the Pokes here. Pokes fall to 1-4, 0-1 in conference.
Following a trip to Nevada the Cowboys will host Air Force at War Memorial. Despite how terrible the run defense has been for the last two seasons I think the Cowboys can win this one. Air Force has been a really unpredictable team so far.. a near loss to Michigan at the Big House then a doozy of a loss to UNLV has me feeling uneasy about AFA this year. Was the loss of Tim Jefferson that big? The Pokes beat the Falcons on the road last year, and I think they win at home this year. Pokes go to 2-4, 1-1.
Next up is a trip to Fresno State. Fresno is also a Mountain West newcomer this year and I think this game could really go either way right now. Two explosive offenses going at it. Fresno is led by Derek Carr, brother to former Bulldog QB and current New York Giant, David Carr. If this game was in Laramie I think I'd give the nod to the Pokes, but since this is on the road I just don't know if the Cowboys win this one. Pokes lose a shootout. 2-5, 1-2.
Boise State will next come to town.. what a strange team the Broncos are this year. The loss of Kellen Moore and Doug Martin is obviously hurting the offense here as the Broncos have been pretty underwhelming so far. The Bronco defense is looking VERY tough this year and I think if the Pokes want to win this game they have to do it through the air. Boise will not let the Cowboys run on them, especially given how anemic the Pokes rushing attack has been. The Boise front seven will eat this team alive. I think I'll have to give the nod to Boise here, I just don't think the Pokes defense will contain Matt Miller all day. 2-6, 1-3.
Up next is a home game for the Bronze Boot! A game that I'm actually going to get to attend this year, which I'm totally looking forward to (barring any freak weather that happens between Western Montana and Southern Wyoming). The Sheep are a mess this year under first year head coach Jim McElwain. Chris Nwoke spent the first couple of weeks healing from and injury and in that time the Sheep were blasted by defending FCS champion North Dakota State. I think this game will be a turning point for the Cowboys and I think the Pokes run the streak to 4 straight and the Boot stays in Laramie. 3-6, 2-3.
For the sake of abbreviation here I'm going to combine a couple of games here. The Pokes will play back to back home games against New Mexico and UNLV. The Pokes have traditionally not played well on the road at either of these two places. Neither of these two teams appear to be that good this year, but New Mexico seems to be showing a modicum amount of life under new head coach Bob Davie who was out of the coaching world for a really long time prior to coming to New Mexico. The last time the Pokes were in Albuquerque they were beaten to a pulp by Temple in the New Mexico Bowl. I think the Pokes will probably beat New Mexico. After that a trip to UNLV should prove to be successful as well as by then I think Bobby Hauck is going to be coaching his final games at UNLV. If the Cowboys can contain Tim Cornett should be a pretty easy win. Pokes move to 5-6 overall, 4-3 in conference.
Can the Pokes get bowl eligible in the final game of the season? We've seen them do it before 3 years ago with a season finale win vs. Colorado State in 2009.. I think we're seeing some shades of 2009 this season. San Diego State looks to be a little down this year after losing Ronnie Hillman and Ryan Lindley. This game is in Laramie and I don't think the Aztecs are going to much appreciate playing in Laramie the last weekend in November against a team hungry to get bowl eligible. I think the Cowboys wrap this one up and will be bowling. Cowboys will finish the regular season 6-6, 5-3 in conference play. This will likely earn them another trip to the New Mexico Bowl.. an easy drive for the Cowboy faithful.
Matt Hargleroad - Cowboy Altitude
The bye week comes at a perfect time for the Cowboys. The finally have some optimism after getting their first win of the season. They can now build off of that for two weeks as they prepare for Mountain West play. Players are able to head home this weekend and spend some time with their families. They've focused on football for two straight months since they came back for fall camp. Injuries have been way up this season, the Cowboys will be as close to full strength as they have been since fall camp started.
Starting off with a road trip to Nevada is no easy task. Still I expect a refreshed Cowboy unit to surprise the Wolf Pack and pull off the upset. For all the defensive woes the Cowboys have had, Nevada gives way more yards at 475. South Florida put 572 yards and FCS NorthwesternSt. piled up 585 yards. Nevada gives up 302 yards in the air per game and 172 on the ground. Brett Smith will finally have Robert Herron and Chris McNeill back together for the first time since the Texas game.
I like the Cowboys chances of knocking off Air Force in Laramie for homecoming. Last year they finally got over the hump by beating the Falcons. The large crowd will help cheer them along to make it two in a row. The trip to Fresno worries me. I fear there may a bit of a letdown after two big victories. The Boise defense is incredibly tough and Wyoming has not fared well against them. I expect this would be the second straight loss. So now the Cowboys are sitting at 3-5.
I like the Cowboys chances in all four of the remaining games. I have some dread about the trip to New Mexico after that loss in 2010. I don't see the Pokes sweeping the final four games, instead they will finish 3-1 and then become bowl eligible with a 6-6 (5-3 conference) record. The Pokes will end up in either the Hawaii or the New Mexico Bowl. They have a great relationship with the New Mexico Bowl and I'm sure there will be pull to have them back.