Laramie, WY – With the kickoff of the 2011 Wyoming Cowboys football season just about three months away, it is a good time to take a look at their 2011 schedule. It is time to see how many games The Pokes may win and how many they may take on the chin but most of all it is just time to talk football as many of us are having with draws and the only football that may be played in the fall of 2011 is on the college level.
Wyoming has to win seven games in the upcoming season to become bowl eligible, this is due to the fact that they open the season with two FCS opponents when they host both the Weber State Wildcats and the Texas State Bobcats.
Breaking down the Cowboys schedule is hard and in this article we are strictly looking at it from past games and on paper as not all teams are set yet as to players and positions yet so we did not mention players but did use it very little on factoring in wins.
The Wildcats came to Laramie to start the 2009 season and showed that they could keep up with and FBS team. They fell to The Pokes in the end, 29-22 but the game was even closer than that. After finishing 6-5 in 2010 and are looking to improve on that mark in 2011 and hope that first win is against the Cowboys. This is the opener for both Wyoming and Weber State and all of us in Laramie knows Dave Christensen will not take a loss to an FCS opponent lightly and for that reason the Cowboys open the season with a win, 25-14.
With an opening day win against Weber State the Cowboys will only need six more wins to become bowl eligible. This game was added to Wyoming’s schedule after the Cowboys would be short a game due to teams that I will not mention decided to leave the Mountain West Conference or what they perceive to be greener pastures.
The Bobcats only won four games in 2010 and that should bode well for the Cowboys in 2011. Texas State loss to team like Central Arkansas in 2010 and in there loses most of the games were not close but in their four wins they averaged winning by over 12 points per game. Either way coming to 7220 from an elevation of 619 feet is too much for any FCS team to overcome and for that reason Wyoming will run away in this game winning 44-14.
After opening the season with two wins against FCS opponents the Cowboys will head east to play Bowling Green. The Falcons won one less game (2) than the Cowboys did (3) in 2010 losing to two of the worst teams in the nation in Akron and Buffalo. The trip east will take its toll on The Pokes but not enough to lose to a team that is truly inferior. They will want and will get win number 3 on the season before getting into the meat of their 2011 schedule, Wyoming 22 – Bowling Green 14.
After opening the season with three straight wins and having the fans in Laramie and the whole state of Wyoming excited the Cowboys will come back home to host what should be the nationally ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers. This will be a true test for Wyoming to see where they stand. With the past two recruiting classes being some of the best ever in Wyoming football history the Cowboys and head coach Dave Christensen will be looking for that signature win. When the Cowboys welcome an elite opponent to Laramie they normally turn in a good quarter to a half and seem to fall apart coming out of the locker room to start the second half. Look for the Cowboys to turn in one of their best performances in the Dave Christensen era against the Cornhuskers but it still will not be enough, look for Nebraska to score enough to pull the win out beating the Cowboys 38-25.
After the game with Nebraska the Cowboys will have a much needed bi-week. When they get back on the field in early October the Cowboys will head to Utah to take on a formidable Utah State team. The Aggies 4-8 record in 2010 did not show how good they really were. They came close to upsetting Oklahoma in their opener falling to the Sooners 31-24 and they beat a BYU that won seven games in 2010. So the Pokes having to go on the road to face the Aggies could present problems for Wyoming. Coming off a loss to Nebraska two weeks before and having the week in between games for the Cowboys will be enough for them to squeak out a win, Wyoming 17 Utah State 13.
Wyoming will open conference play against UNLV a team that beat Wyoming 42-16 in Las Vegas in 2010 but lost to the Cowboys in Laramie 30-27 in 2009. That 2009 game was the game where the Cowboys made a serious second half comeback to eke out that win.
The Rebels only won two games in 2010 but as I said one of those two wins was against our Cowboys. The other was to New Mexico who only had one win, a win they got against Wyoming. The big difference will be that this game is being played in Laramie, since 2007 the home team has won the game and that trend will continue as Wyoming wins their fifth game on the season 31- 21.
After another open date Wyoming will head to San Diego State to take on the Aztecs. The Aztecs beat Wyoming in 2010 48-38 on their way to a nine win season. That season was under Brady Hoke who has bolted for Michigan, the Aztecs now play under the direction of Rock Long and a new coach always can cause new headaches.
Since 2003 the Aztecs and the Cowboys have split the wins with each team having four. The first three wins for each team in that span had the home team winning; the last win for each team has been on the road so now the question is what streak will live? With San Diego State having a new coach and Wyoming in their third season under Christensen you have to go with the road team and in this case that is Wyoming. Wyoming 36 - SDSU 31.
With The Pokes only needing one win left to become bowl eligible they welcome the TCU Horned Frogs to Laramie one last time as TCU head to the Big East in 2012 (I am still trying to find out how TCU fits into the Big East). As much as the Cowboys would love to spoil the Horned frogs season they just will not have enough to as TCU will come to Laramie and run away from Wyoming winning 34-14.
Wyoming will head to Colorado Springs in mid-November to take on the Air Force Falcons. The Falcons have held the upper hand on Wyoming in recent memory winning the last five meetings between the two teams, the positive for the Cowboys is they are usually really close games.
In 2010 the Falcons came to Laramie and squeaked by the Cowboys 20-14. The Falcons beat the Cowboys 10-0 in 2009 and in those five wins by the Falcons the largest win was by 20 points in 2008. As the Cowboys try to become bowl eligible they will still be one win away after this game as they will fall to the Falcons for the sixth straight time 13-10.
Needing one more win the Cowboys will host the New Mexico Lobos late in November. New Mexico got their only win against The Pokes in 2010, 34-31. New Mexico is just a bad team and Wyoming should not have loss to them in 2010 and you can bet that Coach Christensen will not let it happen again in 2011. Look for the Cowboys to open up the playbook and win this one running away. Cowboys 47 – New Mexico 10.
It is a good thing that the win against the Lobos will make the Cowboys bowl eligible as they will head to Idaho to take on new MWC member Boise State in the second to last game of the season. As much as the Cowboys will be on a high the Broncos will just be too much for the Cowboys and the Broncos will hand the Cowboys their fourth loss on the season, 39 – 15.
The Cowboys will close out the season in the "Border War" game against Colorado State. Wyoming whipped CSU in 2010, 44-0 keeping the Bronze Boot in Laramie for the second straight years. Let's make it three, even though the game will be closer than it was in 2010 the Cowboys will beat the Rams for a third straight time, 27 – 17.
With an eight win season the Cowboys will be bowl eligible and will be above 500 in conference play going 4-3. The schedule is easier for Wyoming in 2011 than it was in 2010 but the team is also better and a better team earns more wins and wins is something in Wyoming that we would love to see for years to come.