For the first time on this platform this season, where are my Mountain West football power rankings heading into this week’s games. The rankings have been running in our four-page wrap that goes around the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang for every Wyoming game. With no game this week for the Cowboys, there is no wrap. But from now on I will post these rankings on the blog — along with my picks for the week.
Here we go.
1. Boise State (2-1 overall, 0-0 MW): The Broncos came back to earth, and fell out of the national rankings, with their 44-21 loss at now 15th-ranked Oklahoma State. Special teams were their demise with two blocked punts. Boise State still has a shot at New Year’s 6 bowl game, but for a team not used to losing, this had to have been a humbling blow.
2. San Diego State (2-1, 0-0): The Aztecs vault back up to near the top of these rankings after their 28-21 home victory over then No. 23 Arizona State. They did it with their typical style — a strong running game and good defense. They also did it with a backup quarterback.
3. Fresno State (2-1, 0-0): The Bulldogs did what they were supposed to do last week — go on the road and easily beat an undermanned UCLA team from the Pac-12. Senior Marcus McMaryion showed why he’s one of the better quarterbacks in the league. All seems right with San Diego State and Fresno State after both lost the previous week.
A road conference win over a rival, solidifying a spot in this year’s bowl picture and keeping hopes alive for a division title within the conference.
Wyoming accomplished all that with its 28-14 victory at Air Force Saturday night. But the loss of junior starting quarterback Josh Allen to some sort of right arm injury, which occurred late in the first half, put a damper on all that.
That was the topic of my column from there game, which you can click on here:
Fourth-year UW coach Craig Bohl said he would know more after Sunday, and hopefully Monday on Allen’s injury when he meets with the media again. Bohl didn’t say much after the game, but here is what he did say.
Wyoming plays its fifth consecutive and final Mountain Division game of the season at Air Force Saturday night. Kick off is at 8:15 p.m. MT at Falcon Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
Here is my top key for the Cowboys in the game:
Play keep away: An oldie but a goodie this season for Wyoming, but one that best fits this game. The Cowboys stand a lot better chance of winning if their offense can go on sustained drives, finish with points and keep the Falcons’ triple-option offense off the field. This is what Air Force wants to do, and has done most of the season as it leads the Mountain West in scoring at 34 points per game, and is 10th nationally in time of possession at 33 minutes, 29 seconds per contest. The longer Air Force has the ball, the more UW’s defense can wear down and be susceptible to giving up big plays.
There’s been a lot of firsts for Wyoming men’s basketball this season.
A first-year coach.
First-year players, and others with bigger roles.
Five UW players will go through another first Wednesday when the No. 7 seed Cowboys (18-13) play No. 10 Air Force (11-20) at 2:30 p.m. MT in a first-round game. They will play in their first-ever MW Tournament game.
Two in particular are sophomore guard Justin James and junior forward Hayden Dalton. Both were on the team last year, but were suspended prior to the tournament after being cited by Laramie police for drug use. James and Dalton are UW’s two leading scorers at 15.5 and 12.5 points per game, respectively.
“It hurt knowing I couldn’t be out there helping my team in some way. This year I’m ready to play,” James said.
Needless to say, UW needs both players to have good games Wednesday, but perhaps the biggest area is ball security. James and Dalton lead UW in turnovers. Between both, they average about five turnovers per game, and many of them are careless turnovers that can easily be avoided.
A big game, big crowd and a big win for Wyoming in its 35-26 home victory over Air Force in front of an announced crowd of 26,623 at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Cowboys (4-2 overall, 2-0 Mountain West) had to hang on after it led 28-6 late in the third quarter. But it made some key plays at the end — offensively and defensively. Here are some of those plays and highlights:
Some notes and quotes for Saturday’s homecoming game for Wyoming against the Air Force Academy. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m., and the game will be televised on ROOT Sports.
First, my No. 1 key for UW today:
Making plays through the air: Wyoming wants and needs to run the football, and it will try. However, Air Force allows just 53 rushing yards per game. On paper, it looks like UW redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen is going to have to make some plays in the passing game. How much remains to be seen, but there will be times when Allen must do that. Allen needs to be sharp and efficient today.
— As far as homecoming games go, UW is 44-44-3 all-time. At War Memorial Stadium, the Cowboys are 39-25-2.
— One quick note from last week’s 38-17 win at Colorado State. As most of you know the Cowboys’ defense didn’t allow any points in the second half. They also gave up just 134 yards of total offense, including two rushing yards.
The Air Force Academy is located just north of Colorado Springs, Colorado. As a service academy, its recruiting base is national, not just local.
Wyoming has six players on its roster from Colorado Springs, and their ties to the Air Force academy and Air Force football varies.
Senior punter Ethan Wood (Liberty HS) lived on the Air Force Academy for a brief time while his father worked there. He also attended a few football games as a kid.
Wood is coming off one of his best games in UW’s 38-17 win at Colorado State last Saturday. Wood averaged 44.5 yards per punt, four of his six punts were downed inside the 20-yard line — including two at the 1.
Wood said that was one of his best games in his career. However, he also said last year’s game at Air Force that UW lost 31-17 may have been his best-ever. He punted eight times for a 47.1-yard average, including a long of 62 yards. Four of his punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.
A new week and a new foe for Wyoming football to prepare for. The Cowboys (3-2 overall, 1-0 Mountain West) host Air Force (4-0, 1-0) at 1:30 p.m. Monday for homecoming.
Here is UW’s depth chart this week:
The only change is true freshman Tyler Hall is listed as possible back up at the boundary cornerback spot with redshirt freshman Davion Freeman. Junior Rico Gafford remains the starter. Hall played in his first game last week at Colorado State. He finished with one tackle and one pass break up.