A disappointing loss, and to me, kind of an odd and stale atmosphere in Wyoming’s home finale — a 13-7 setback to Fresno State.
First, the crowd of 15,440 did what it could, but with poor weather Friday and into Saturday morning that kept many fans away because of road closures.Creating any sort of atmosphere was tough. But I will credit the fans who made it.
Second, as UW introduced its seniors prior to the game, junior quarterback Josh Allen was among them. That said to me that Allen won’t come back next season and will give pro football a try. Don’t think this was surprising news to most, but it put some finality to that decision, don’t you think? Allen didn’t play due to his injured right shoulder and didn’t do any postgame interviews.
Here’s coach Craig Bohl on Allen and the game:
As for the game itself, it was pretty typical of what most UW games have been like this season — inconsistent and at times stagnant offense and good defense. The Cowboys lost the turnover battle 2-1 to Fresno State, and a muffed punt by sophomore wide receiver Austin Conway enabled Fresno State to score the only touchdown of the game.
The plays UW made in winning six of its previous seven games it didn’t make enough of in this one. Still, it had a chance to win the game late. Junior back up quarterback Nick Smith led the team on a late touchdown drive, and that the Cowboys at the Fresno State 27 yard-line in the final seconds, but could’t get a potential game-winning throw off. Instead, he was tackled at the line of scrimmage on fourth down under a three-man rush.
Here are some late-game highlights and Smith after the game:
Like most games this season, UW’s run game was poor — or inconsistent at best. It was 2 of 14 on third down, and 1 of 3 on fourth down. First-down production seemed to be a bigger issue for the Cowboys to me. Still, there were several third and fourth-and-short situations UW couldn’t capitalize on.
Many fans weren’t happy with UW offensive coordinator Brent Vigen after the game, and were critical of his play-calling. Fans are entitled to their opinions, and I am not going to use up this space to tell people what they should think. I will say, however, that coaches don’t draw up or call plays they think will fail. It is easy after the fact to go back and say a certain play or plays were horrible. The game is a lot different for coaches and players than those sitting in the stands, in my case the press box, or those sitting on their couch watching TV who claim to be expert play-callers when things aren’t going well.
Would things have been different if Smith had thrown the ball more like he did over UW’s last two possessions? Maybe. Would Fresno State’s defense be different earlier in the game than late when it was protecting the lead? Probably.
You can analyze this game however you want, but the bottom line UW lost a close game to a good team.
So what does UW (7-4 overall, 5-2 MW) have to play for in its final regular-season game at San Jose State this coming Saturday?
First and foremost, play in a game. Two, a chance to clinch second place in the Mountain Division by itself. Even if it ties with Colorado State and/or Utah State, UW owns the tie-breaker with both since it beat both squads. It is a chance to get to eight wins for the second straight regular season. Perhaps most importantly, it is a chance to get rid of the bad taste left from the Fresno State loss.
To wrap this up, below is a graphic from the MW website that gives some good information on the bowl possibilities for the league. As of Sunday, most national websites have UW going to Boise, Idaho for a bowl game. Some have UW in Tucson and one has it in Hawaii.
Anyway, this should help you understand how the bowl scenarios will work. UW will know its bowl destination on Dec. 3 or Dec. 4.