Finally, a game to talk about.
Wyoming plays at Iowa at 10 a.m. MT Saturday in the season-opener for both squads. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
To follow with tradition, here is my No. 1 key for UW in the game:
Balancing act: Despite the skills and abilities of junior quarterback Josh Allen, UW can’t be one-dimensional offensively. It has to run the ball, or at least run it well at critical times. That will be a tall task against a big and experienced Iowa front seven. Still, the Cowboys can’t make it easy for Iowa’s defense to come after Allen so some semblance of a running game is a must.
Some notes and quotes about the game:
— UW’s success against Big Ten Conference teams is very limited. It is 1-18 all-time against schools from that league. The only win was on Sept. 27, 1986, a 21-12 win at Wisconsin.
— Junior safety Andrew Wingard enters the season 71 tackles shy of cracking into UW’s top 10 career list. Wingard has 253 tackles through his first two seasons. If he keeps that pace over the next two years, he will have 506 which would shatter the current record of 467 by linebacker Galand Thaxton from 1984-87. Not sure if it such a good thing for Wingard to get that many tackles being a safety, but his production thus far has been impressive.
— “The good news is we’re a little more veteran up front, but the bad news is we’re not as veteran or experienced in the back end. We’re only playing maybe the best quarterback in the country. Otherwise, it’s a great matchup for us.” — Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.
— Today marks the 121st season of UW football, and it will be the Cowboys’ 1,111st game. UW’s all-time football record is 520-562-28.
— “Their offense is going to be fairly similar to our offense. Their running back and offensive line are really good. Their offensive line is good at making runways for the running backs. Both teams run a lot of 21 personnel (two running backs and one tight end). We practice against that all the time. We’re looking forward to the challenge.” — UW sophomore middle linebacker Logan Wilson.
— “Stop the run. If we can do that and execute after that, that’s pretty much our game plan. We want to force them in to a lot of third-and-long situations.” — Wingard
— UW has two players from Iowa on its roster: senior cornerback/kickoff returner Rico Gafford and junior offensive lineman Cole Turner. Gafford is from West Des Moines, Turner is from Cedar Rapids, about 30 miles north of Iowa’s campus in Iowa City. Here’s a link to my story from earlier in the week on Turner having a chance to go against one of his best friends from high school in Iowa junior defensive lineman Matt Nelson.
— UW will receive $1 million for playing this game from Iowa. Former UW athletics director Gary Barta (2003-06) left Laramie to become Iowa’s AD in 2006 and has been there ever since. What were your thoughts of Barta while at UW? I don’t think he did a bad job, but I also don’t recall him doing anything that was ground-breaking or over-the-top great.
— “Ever since that bowl game ended and I decided to come back, Sept. 2 is all I’ve been able to look forward to. … “I don’t read anything about me. I’m concentrating on winning games for this team, but all the media attention is great for our university and our team.” — UW junior quarterback Josh Allen.
— Iowa is the only team in the Football Bowl Subdivision this season that has two running backs who were 1,000-yard rushers in 2016 — seniors Akrum Wadley and James Butler, who transferred from Nevada.
— “Toughness. Physical mentality. Always fundamentally sound. They’re going to play hard. They’re one of the premier progams in the country. Iowa football is Iowa football. We know we’ll have our hands full, and our guys are excited about it.” — UW coach Craig Bohl.
For more UW-Iowa football coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.