Panel Of Pokes: Fresno At Night

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Pokes look to shock the undefeated Bulldogs under the lights.



After two down games and bye week the Cowboys are back in action.  They also happen to be facing the undefeated #16 Fresno State Bulldogs.  This is a unique game as kickoff is set for 8:15 p.m. Mountain Time.  Also the contest will be shown on ESPN 2, giving a very large audience of night owls to tune in.  This a "white out" game with the Pokes wearing at home, and fans receiving free white ponchos on their way into the game. 

Quick check in on the standings of the Pick Em' Contest.

Standings

Rank Pick Set Name Total Pts W-L
1 BlackBoisDen Broncos 55 55-12
2 Macho Camacho Nacho 54 54-13
3 DDR 53 53-14
4 Heart Mountain Thunder 53 53-14
5 Parson 53 53-14

Let's see what our panelists predict.

Connor Cunningham - Wyonation

Pokes Pick: Brett Smith. The defense may not be able to stop anyone, but Brett should be able to have a good day. 

Score:
49-35 Fresno

Thoughts on the game:
I don't think this one will ever be close, unfortunately. The defense hasn't proven they can stop a nose bleed and the offense can only do so much. I hope I am wrong.

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Ian McMackin - GoWyoGo

Pokes Pick: QB Brett Smith - The Wyoming quarterback should come out and throw for 300+ yards and rush for close to 100 yards and help keep the Cowboys in the game on Saturday. Fresno State's defense hasn't been overly dominating, especially in stopping top notch passers like Smith.

Score: Fresno State 45 Wyoming 38

Thoughts on the game: I'll pick the Bulldogs to win the game, though I see the Cowboys playing inspired and keeping the game relatively close with their offense led by Brett Smith. The Wyoming offense has shown the capability to both pass and run, and will be a test for the Bulldogs and should have some success moving the ball.

The Pokes should get a home field intangible benefit in playing at 7200 feet and in the cold weather, where they are more used to than their opponent. Head coach Dave Christensen's Cowboys also have the benefit of the bye week in preparation and resting up the team, plus the firing of defensive coordinator Chris Tormey and the promotion of Jamar Cain to the position may have a surprising effect. Potentially the hiring of long-time college D-Coordinator Bill Young could help in some unmeasurable ways in jump starting a struggling UW defense.

It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys perform with all the news developing over the last two weeks and this could end up being a big trap game for Fresno State, who has plenty of motivation in making a run at a BCS Bowl game.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cowboys pull the upset, though at this point I'll take Fresno State to win another shootout and Bulldog quarterback Derek Carr should make enough plays against a questionable UW defense, to pull victory out in the late night, cold contest on the high plains of Laramie.

Matt Blaylock - PokePride

Poke Pick: Jamar Cain/Dave Christensen

Score: FSU 34 Wyoming 30

Thoughts: I very rarely try to pick against the Pokes but I did it back in June (http://www.pokepride.com/1/post/2013/06/promising-season-for-cowboy-football-in-2013.html so I am going to stick with it. As you can see I went with Co-Pokes for the Poke Pick. If the defense looks in any way better head coach Dave Christensen will look like a genius for naming Cain as the interim defensive coordinator. If Cain can shore up the defense he may lose the interim title as the defensive coordinator. It is a big game for both and if it turns out well how could they not both be Pokes? I will say now if the team wins and the D' is a whole lot better they will be Pokes in the Pokes and Chokes on Poke Pride.

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Brad Reed - WyoNation

Pokes Pick: Shaun Wick. He's been on a roll lately and I think he continues it this week. The Fresno defense is not a great defense and teams have been able to run on them. I don't see why that won't happen this week. The Cowboys need a big game from Wick to keep this one close. Control the ball, control the clock, keep the defense fresh is going to be the key to this game.

Score:
45 - 42 Fresno.

Thoughts on the game:
Yeah, I picked against the Pokes. This is a really tough task for the Cowboys this week, even though they're coming off of a bye. New defensive coordinator Jamar Cain drew a pretty tough game for his first game leading the defense and I just don't think that's enough time to slow down Derek Carr. The guy is throwing for about 400 yards a game against anyone they play. Granted, their SOS hasn't been real tough, but they're having a lot of offensive success. The Cowboy offense has been prone to bouts of slumps throughout the game, and in a game against Fresno, and with the defense as it's been playing, they have to score on just about every possession to win. I had the same feeling about a third of the way through the San Jose State game. Brett Smith got off to a VERY slow start against the Spartans and that just can't happen here. Robert Herron and Dom Rufran have also been quiet at times throughout the game, and for the Pokes to win this they both need to have their names called early and often. The defense is just not getting the stops needed, and three and outs from the offense aren't putting them in a good spot. This game is undoubtedly going to be a track meet and the Bulldogs have proven they can out-sprint anyone. The Cowboy secondary is going to need to be on its heels with Devante Adams and Josh Harper both having terrific seasons so far. But you can't drop 7 into coverage and just expect to beat the Bulldogs because Marteze Waller and Josh Quezada are both very capable running backs who can do their own damage. This is a game the Cowboys are capable of winning. Fresno has looked VERY vulnerable at times this season, especially the last couple of weeks, and an ESPN2 game in Laramie in the cold and snow looks like an opportune time for the Cowboys to knock off the #16 team according to the BCS standings. Remember, if you're attending the game it's a white out! Wear your white and Go Pokes!

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Matt Hargleroad - Cowboy Altitude

Poke Pick: The Wyoming defense, they will come out ready to play on Saturday.

Score: Wyoming 42 Fresno State 37

Thoughts on the game: It seems that when you expect the least - you get the most.  I think this team has had two weeks to do some soul searching and will come out ready to play.  I'm only the one picking the Cowboys this week and it is hard to see the Pokes win as a nine point underdog.   Still I see the team coming out with a new attitude and ready to shock the world.  The offense will be able to put up points, now the defense will be re-energized with some fresh leadership from Cain.   



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