Is the last Wyoming football this year? The last game Dave Christensen will coach in Laramie? Our panels in with their thoughts in this latest installment of Panel of Pokes.
Poke Pick: QB Brett Smith: I'll go with the player that has been the key for the Cowboys all season. Brett Smith will lead the Pokes in total offense once again.
Score: Utah State 41 Wyoming 21
Thoughts on the game: The game will feature the Wyoming strength in it's offense versus a good Utah State defense that arguably is the best in the Mountain West right now. The Cowboys aren't helped by a injury riddle offensive line that will be facing an Aggie defense that can pressure the quarterback and it doesn't bode well for the Pokes.
While I think the Cowboys will make some plays on offense and score a few touchdowns, It is hard to see Wyoming moving the ball at ease, as they did against the San Jose State or Hawaii games. For the Pokes to have a chance, they are really going to have to find away to run the ball and score consistently on Saturday and it will be a tough task versus USU's solid defense.
On the flip side, Utah State lost their talented quarterback Chuckie Keeton earlier in the season and don't have quite the prolific offense as Fresno State or Boise State, though they have the capability to make plays on offense and against a Wyoming defense that hasn't stopped anybody.
I do see the Cowboys coming out an playing inspired with bowl eligibility on the line and could be a close game heading into halftime, while Utah State has plenty to play for themselves with a Mountain Division championship on the line.
How do the Cowboys pull the upset? Produce a lot of turnovers and play above their heads defensively, while finding different routes to scoring and not becoming predictable. It seems like a lot to ask for a defense that has given up at least 48 points in the last five games.
Will Dave Christensen be back next year? From talking with some folks I know, Christensen will have to win this game to save his job. He wins and the Pokes go bowling, I think he'll be around for sixth year, but that's not a guarantee. The Cowboys are relatively young and don't lose a lot of seniors and perhaps another year with the right additions, the program can turn the corner in 2014.
Poke Pick - Brett Smith
Score - Wyoming 31 Utah State 29
Thoughts - I know it was just Hawaii but Brett Smith looked to be back and that is good news for the Cowboys. Look for Smith to follow last weeks performance up with one more good week. Both teams will be motivated one going for a bowl birth and the other looking to play in the inaugural MW Championship Game. This game will come down to who executes better, the Cowboys offense or the Aggies defense. Wyoming has the 14th ranked offense in the country while Utah State has the 12th ranked defense in the country that is just a matter of who wants it more. I still believe this week Wyoming will want it more and in the end they will pull it out.
Will DC be back next year? - I went to this link http://www.ask8ball.net/ and I asked this question "Will Dave Christensen be back as Wyoming's head coach in 2014?" and the answer I got was "Most Likely"
Poke Pick: Rob Herron- He has been on fire lately and him and Smith seem to be on the same page as of late. I expect Rob to continue to get balls thrown his way.
Score: 38-28 Utah State
Thoughts on the game: I think the Pokes compete in this one, but with USU playing for a conference championship it will be tough to win. Unfortunately, this disappointing season comes to a close early and Wyoming stays home again for bowl season.
Will Dave Christensen be back next year? If we win, yes. If we lose, no.
Matt Hargleroad - Cowboy Altitude
Score: Utah State 34 Wyoming 10
Thoughts on the game: The Cowboy defense has struggled to stop anyone the second half of the season. I expect that trend to continue in the season finale. Utah State is highly motivated to clinch a trip to the Mountain West Championship game on their home turf. The Cowboys are struggled to find 11 healthy players to put on the field. The defense has been depleted and now the offensive line will be missing Tyler Strong and Albert Perez. A weak offensive line means bad news when facing the stellar defense of Utah State.
Will Dave Christensen be back next year?: A season of brightness and hope has turned dark over the last month. With that decline we've seen faith in Christensen falter as well. The defense has turned into a MASH unit with a unprecedented number of injuries. The offense has put up impressive offensive numbers and made big strides this year. I don't think the chances are great for Christensen returning if the Cowboys fail to become bowl eligible. I think Christensen should be brought in 2014 regardless of the outcome on Saturday. The Cowboys are only expected to two lose two senior starters on offense and defense. This veteran team deserves to try and finish what they started together. If things don't work in 2014 then Wyoming can start a new era in 2015 with a new coach who can begin rebuilding the roster the way they want.