Wyoming vs. No. 24 San Diego State – Pregame primer

Some pregame reading for Wyoming’s home-finale Saturday vs. No. 24-ranked San Diego State. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m., and the game is televised on CBS Sports Network.

Here is my No. 1 key to the game for UW in the game:

Offense is the best defense: Wyoming faces one of the nation’s best defenses today, and over the last 17 Mountain West games San Diego State has allowed an average of about 10 points per game. Still, the Cowboys must find a way to win the time of possession battle, finish drives with points and most importantly, keep its defense fresh so it’s not on the field for 97 plays like it was last week at UNLV.

For more keys, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

I ran this Friday on wyosports.net, but here are the tie-breaker scenarios in terms of who could win the Mountain Division. Be prepared for your head to hurt after reading all this, but UW has a lot of different ways it can still win the division.

WYOMING

— Captures the Mountain Division if it wins remaining two regular-season games vs. San Diego State in Laramie and at New Mexico.

— Captures division if it loses to San Diego State and defeats New Mexico (who also must lose at Colorado State on Saturday in this scenario), and Boise State loses one of its final two games. Wyoming wins the division due to head-to-head victory over Boise State.

— If Wyoming loses to San Diego State and defeats New Mexico, Boise State loses to UNLV and defeats Air Force and New Mexico defeats Colorado State and loses to Wyoming, then Wyoming, Boise State and New Mexico will finish the season with identical conference records of 6-2. Wyoming would win tie-breaker because when comparing the tied teams, Wyoming would be 2-0, Boise State would be 1-1 and New Mexico would be 0-2.

— If Wyoming defeats San Diego State and loses to New Mexico, Boise State defeats UNLV and loses to Air Force and New Mexico loses to Colorado State and defeats Wyoming then Wyoming, Boise State and New Mexico will finish the season with identical conference records of 6-2. Wyoming would win tie-breaker because when comparing the tied teams, all three would be 1-1 against each other. The next tie-breaker is winning percentage in games played against division opponents and Wyoming would be 4-1, Boise State 3-2 and New Mexico 3-2.

BOISE STATE

— Captures division if it wins its final two regular-season games versus UNLV in Boise and at Air Force, and Wyoming loses at least one of its final two games.

— If Boise State goes 1-1 in final two games, Wyoming loses its final two games and New Mexico loses to Colorado State and defeats Wyoming then Boise State and New Mexico would be tied atop of the division with identical 6-2 records. Boise State wins the division due to head-to-head victory over New Mexico.

NEW MEXICO

— Captures the division if it wins its final two regular-season games at Colorado State and at home vs. Wyoming, and Boise State loses at least one of its final two games.

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— “If this last game didn’t wake guys up, nothing will. It should shake them up to the fact we have to come out with our swords sharp and with great focus. We have to come every week, grind it out and play our best football.” — UW defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Steve Stanard.

Andrew Wingard

Andrew Wingard

— Speaking of defense, sophomore free safety Andrew Wingard needs just one tackle to reach 100 this season. He will become the 12th player in UW history to record two 100-plus tackle seasons. Only two have three 100-tackles seasons: safety John Salley (1980-82) and linebacker Jim Talich (1995-97). Wingard remains the active career leader among FBS players with 10.05 tackles per game and 6.36 solos stops per contest.

— “He’s a really good player. He throws it very well, and he can get out of trouble and throw it down field. He’s got two really good receivers who, in our opinion, do the best job in our league of going up and getting the ball and taking it away from the defenders — even when they’re covered.” — San Diego State coach Rocky Long on UW redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen and senior wide receiver Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt.

— UW junior running back Brian Hill needs just 39 yards to own the top two single-season rushing marks in school history. Last year he shattered the record with 1,631, and

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

he needs just 214 yards to tie that mark. Hill enters the game with 1,417 yards. His average per carry this season ins 5.7 yards. Last season it was 5.8.

— “We know (San Diego State) is physical, but we’re a different team this year and we’re more physical. The attitude of this team also is so much different. We know this game is going to be a dog fight. We’re all competitors, and we hate losing. Any loss is going to get to us. It hurts. But that’s a good thing and we want to get that taste our of our mouth.” — Hill.

— San Diego State trails the series with UW in Laramie 11-6, but has won the last two and seeks its first-ever three-game winning streak at War Memorial Stadium. UW is looking to win all of its home games in the same season for the first time since 1988 — the last time it won an outright conference championship.

— San Diego State’s game notes this week are 93 pages (including stats). One interesting note is that the Aztecs are looking for their first win being ranked in the AP top 25 since Nov. 26, 1977. San Diego State is 0-3 since then

Christian Chapman

Christian Chapman

— “Nothing too much different for me. My grandma lives in Wyoming. Kind of windy, kind of flat. We played in Boise as a freshman and that was much worse.” — San Diego State sophomore quarterback Christian Chapman when asked about the weather for Saturday’s game. Temperatures are supposed to be in the high 30s to low 40s with no chance of rain/snow.

— This game features two of the best teams in the MW and the country in terms of intercepting passes. San Diego State leads with 19, UW is second with 13. Both rank in the top 14 in the country.

— “You’re going to have some disappointed guys, but the level of maturity this team has developed throughout the year has paid dividends, and will pay dividends this week. We have a team coming in that is ranked 24th in the country, its senior day and there is a lot on the line. There’s a lot riding on this game and I’m completely confident  we will be ready.” — Allen

— According to UW’s game notes, San Diego State is the 27th opponent to play in War Memorial Stadium ranked in the top 25. The Cowboys have won only six of the previous 26, but won its last won — 30-28 over then No 13 Boise State on Oct 29.