Wyoming 34, San Diego State 33 – postgame thoughts

Another game, another amazing, odd, exciting (pick your own word) finish as Wyoming rallied then held on for a 34-33 victory over previously No. 24 San Diego State Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

How odd and exciting? Check out my late-game highlights that include UW’s game-winning touchdown on a 29-yard pass from redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen to redshirt freshman wide receiver C.J. Johnson. Also included is San Diego State’s Hail Mary pass on the final play to pull to within one (a play that was ruled incomplete and then reversed) and then its failed two-point conversion.

What did you think of San Diego State coach Rocky Long’s decision to go for two at the end? Gutsy, in my opinion. When asked if he second-guessed that decision, Long simply said “nope.”

I have never seen a team return two kickoffs for touchdowns, but San Diego State did, and in 120 years of playing football, Wyoming had never had that happen. It also never happened in MW history until this game.

My column from the game centered around the defense — although UW’s offense did a lot of good things. The same defense that allowed 401 rushing yards and 653 yards of total offense in a 69-66 triple-overtime loss at UNLV Nov. 12, allowed 178 rushing yards, 387 yards of total offense and 19 points to San Diego State.

UW also did it short-handed along the line as sophomore nose tackle Sidney Malauulu didn’t play due to a foot/ankle injury. Senior nose tackle Chase Appleby injured his right knee and didn’t return — and it sounds like the chances of him returning this season are not good. Too bad because Appleby has been arguably the Cowboys’ best defensive lineman and also one of the great guys on the team, period. UW also lost redshirt freshman defensive end Josiah Hall to an injury during the game.

Here is third-year coach Craig Bohl after the game:

The game was similar to the UNLV contest in some ways. UW scored on the final play of regulation against UNLV. San Diego State scored did the same.

Both UNLV and San Diego State scored points on the last play of the first half.

But the difference was not only better play by the defense, but the offense only committed one turnover — not four against UNLV — and possessed the ball for nearly 37 minutes compared to just under 22 minutes at UNLV.

But the Cowboys found ways to win against a second ranked team this season. That hasn’t happened since 1998.

The Cowboys (8-3, 6-1) can clinch the Mountain Division title with a win at New Mexico (7-4, 5-2) Saturday, or a Boise State loss at Air Force Friday. There is a chance UW could host the MW Championship Game if it beats New Mexico. It also would help if Colorado State could upset San Diego State in San Diego. The Aztecs clinched the West Division a couple of weeks ago, and many of them said after Saturday’s game they would be back in Laramie for the MW Championship Game.

The kickoff returns for touchdowns has to be a concern for UW. So are the injuries on defense heading into the New Mexico game, that will throw the triple option at the Cowboys.

But UW continues to play meaningful late-season games, and it’s been a lot of fun so far to follow.

One last video for you from junior running back Brian Hill. He had his eighth 100-yard game this season — a new career high — and the 19th of his career. Hill needs 94 yards to break his own single-season rushing  mark he set last season. Hill had 31 carries for 131 yards and two touchdowns against San Diego State. San Diego State senior Donnel Pumphrey entered the game as the nation’s leading rusher, but had 76 yards on 17 carries, and only four carries for seven yards in the second half.

11 thoughts on “Wyoming 34, San Diego State 33 – postgame thoughts

  1. Hey, I do appreciate these pieces you put together. Thank you…..

    What are some of the bowl scenarios for the Cowboys?

    Blake

    • Hi Blake, and thanks for the kind words.

      Bowl scenarios still uncertain. Let me try and give you the condensed version:
      — Las Vegas Bowl gets first selection of MW team (does not have to be the champion, but it usually is unless the champion is in a New Year’s 6 game).
      — After that, MW Commissioner Thompson and ESPN Regional sits down and decides who goes to the other five bowls. ESPN owns four of them. Those decisions will be based on TV and attendance — mostly.
      — Poinsettia Bowl rep was at the game Saturday and I talked to him before the game. He loves Wyoming and remembers when UW played in the Holiday Bowls in late 80s. They would love UW back there.
      — We won’t know until Dec. 4 after all the conference championship games.

      That make sense?

  2. Rob,
    What are the computer models that the MW uses to decide the host of the MWC game?
    Any update on Appleby?

    Thanks for all you do!

    • No update on Appleby, hope to get more info Monday, but it doesn’t look good.

      The four rankings used are:
      — Anderson & Hester
      — Billingsley
      — Colley Matrix
      — Wolfe

      RG

  3. That does make sense.

    Can I assume, that if we win Saturday’s game, that the Championship is back in Laramie?

  4. Rocky Long made the right call with the wrong play. It was like the Seahawks call all over again. Pokes win either way in my estimate. Been a great ride…let’s hope we have three more games in us.

  5. Another notch in the six shooter for the boys from Laramie. Astonished, no; these Cowboys have a unity of spirit and a title contender attitude that will not be taken lightly into the final stanza. Absolutely no one I know, present company included thought these players and coaches could have a shot like this. Out right winning the Mountain Division, but now the likelihood of a Championship is possibly in the foothills of the Snowy Range…..a beautiful setting. Lets get behind these Cowboys and win the MWC. Good stuff, Robert!

  6. What a great game. Enjoyed it very much. It was scary towards the end. The officiating was not the best. Robert= Was the short kick offs done on purpose or just bad kicks? Those almost cost us the game. Special teams were not good at all. Missed so many tackles.
    I think that we can beat New Mexico. To bad about Appleby. Any other injuries to worry about?
    Hope Air Force beats Boise St. Don’t know if CSU can beat San Diego but can always hope.
    My opinion is Josh Allen is the best QB in the Mountain West and one of the best in the country.
    GO POKES

    • Wyoming tried to squib and also kick the ball high and short to avoid the speed of San Diego State on kickoffs, but both didn’t work. You are right on the tackling on those KO returns.

      As far as other injuries, Bohl said Monday he is hopeful that nose tackle Sidney Malauulu (foot) will be back, but won’t know more until later in the week. He was hurt in practice before the SDSU game. Bohl also said defensive end Josiah Hall (head) is probable.

      Thanks for the comments and feedback.

      RG

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