Heading into the season Wyoming knew it would be a challenge to reach a bowl game this year. With two FCS opponents the Cowboys need seven wins to reach the postseason. Now sitting at 2-0 the Cowboys are on their way to reaching that goal. However grabbing those five wins won't be easy and a couple of expected victories will be tougher then expected.
Winning on the road is always a challenge but upcoming opponents Bowling Green and Utah State looked much improved this season. The Falcons are currently sitting at 2-0 while Utah State is 1-1 and came within 45 seconds of knocking off defending national champ Auburn in Alabama. Last year BGSU went 2-10 and USU ended up 4-8. Winning these two games would give the Cowboys at least four victories before they head into the conference schedule. With home games set with New Mexico and UNLV plus the Border War in Fort Collins Wyoming certainly could attain those required seven victories.
First things first is the Cowboys need to be ready for the high octane offense of Bowling Green. The Falcons are currently the eleventh best team in the nation in terms of total offense with 525 yards. Coincidentally Wyoming is ranked #10 with 540.5 yards while Utah State is 9th at 541.05. Matt Schilz is a strong pocket passer who has 549 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception already this year. His two main threats are Eugene Cooper and Kamar Jordan. Cooper already has 244 yards this year while Jordan is coming off a 96 catch 1109 yard season in 2010.
That passing game will be the biggest test for the Wyoming secondary this year so far. On the ground Anthon Samuel is averaging 131 yards per game and 7.6 yards per carry. Wyoming can't sit back and focus on one aspect of the offense otherwise they can still get burned. The Falcons defeated FCS team Morgan State last week 58-13. That win was pretty comparable to how Wyoming defeated Texas State. The eye opener was the Falcons putting up 30 points on Idaho in the the first half of a road game. They ended up winning 32-15 but it also gave the team a big boost of confidence. Oddsmakers are currently loving the Falcons and have them as 8.5 point favorites heading into this weekend with the Cowboys.
After heading to Bowling Green the Cowboys will host Nebraska and then enjoy a bye week. Following that they head to Logan, UT to tackle Utah State. The Aggies gave Auburn the scare of their lives in week one and then dismantled Weber State 54-17. That is the same Weber State team the Pokes barely defeated in week one. The Aggies and Wildcats were tied at 17 at the half before Utah State turned on the guns to score 37 unanswered points. Freshmen QB Chuckie Keeton proved his mettle while facing Auburn and has given the new offense a true dual threat QB.
The Aggies are an option team and totaled 440 yards on the ground on last week. Running back Robert Turbin has 247 yards and four touchdowns on the year already. His backup Kerwynn Williams has 132 yards on the year. Chuckie Keeton has averaged 189 yards passing per game at a 68% completion rate. In two weeks Utah State hosts Colorado State and then travels to BYU. They will then enjoy a bye week prior to playing Wyoming.
The victory over Texas State was so fun to watch last week the execution on both sides of the ball was improved. Enjoy that feeling from this weekend but the stress will increase here shortly. I wouldn't count on getting so many pass interference calls in the future. These schools will be much more disciplined on defense and will be ready when the ball is in the air. Wyoming had a coupe drives saved last week by the defender never turning his head while covering the receiver.
The Cowboys will certainly have a chance to win these games and if they can it will be a big boost to their bowl aspirations and strength of schedule. The main thing right now is to just take it one week at a time and focus on this first road game with Bowling Green. That will tell us plenty about what this team is truly capable of achieving.