Forget the past, Aggies in front of Cowboys for future success
WEEK 12: Wyoming (6-3) vs Utah State (5-4)
WHEN: Saturday, November 16 — 12:00 PM PT/1:00 PM MT
WHERE: Maverick Stadium; Logan, Utah (25,100)
RADIO: The University of Wyoming broadcast can be found in and around Cheyenne, Wyoming on KFSB, 1240 AM. It can also be found on 26 affiliate radio stations around the state.
LAST WEEK: Wyoming lost in overtime to Boise State, 20-17.
SERIES RECORD: This is the 70th meeting between the two conference squads. Wyoming is behind in the series, 26-39-4.
ODDS (via OddsShark): Utah State – 5
SP+ PROJECTION: Utah State by 2.2 (55% win probability)
One team that was projected to be competing for a Mountain West title and another that was supposed to be somewhere near the bottom. Despite just one loss in conference, Utah State seems to be under-achieving with projected NFL first-rounder Jordan Love not living up to the Heisman-hype and Wyoming is surprising others after a tough loss to Boise State last week.
One thing that both teams have in common for Saturday’s contest, is there is still a lot on the line. The Cowboys might be bowl-eligible, but six wins guarantee nothing like last year’s missing bowl invite shows. Meanwhile, the Aggies are one win away from technically being in that same boat with the next two contests being the biggest of the season playing the top-tier teams of the Mountain Division in back-to-back weeks.
Here’s a look at three keys to a Cowboys win:
Three Keys to a Wyoming Victory
1. Forget the last game
Cooper Rothe‘s missed field goal in overtime still stings, but it’s time to move on from Boise State to see if the Cowboys can build on a strong conference showing against the Broncos.
Wyoming has a lot of positives to build on from last week as most aspects of the Cowboys game plan was solid and produced results against a top-25 team. Xazavian Valladay proved can be consistent as the work-horse (37-124 yds) back and the defense held the Broncos to well over 100 yards less than their average.
So despite the loss, Wyoming is still on track to possibly surpass it’s projected win total of 7 wins at the start of the season with three games left.
2. TVW Revenge
Tyler Vander Waal‘s last start of the 2018 season was against the Aggies. He had an abysmal 38 yards in the air prior to being pulled for Sean Chambers. He even had a chance to come back late in the game with a chance to at least tie after Chambers led the team to that point. It didn’t happen and the Cowboys fell by eight points.
So, this game has Vander Waal’s name all over it with a chance to redeem that performance after a year of growth and a new mindset that has produced results.
The sophomore quarterback had 160 yards against Boise State and ran in for a score. More important than the numbers was his presence. He made throws consistently (15-23) and showed a versatile confidence from short to long passes.
3. Contain Love
In comparison to 2018, Love is not having a great year. But that’s just perspective because the junior quarterback still has over 2,000 yards passing and 11 touchdowns. A far cry from his 32 scores a year ago.
Wyoming will have to at the least contain the highly-profiled slinger if they want to bring home the Bridger Rifle. Stopping Love will be tricky as the Cowboys have been prone to give up the big plays, but the secondary has shown strides in recent weeks.
One thing that Wyoming did well at the beginning of the season was force turnovers and Love has actually thrown one more interception this year than a touchdown, so there’s that. Senior defensive backs Tyler Hall and Alijah Halliburton should get ready for the pick to help their cause.
This game could be considered a toss-up, but the scale definitely leans toward the Cowboys as the big-deficit losses mount up for the Aggies. These next two weeks will be huge for both teams, but Wyoming just might have the advantage all-around in Saturday’s game. The Cowboys defense might give up yards, but they’ll also make the big plays when they count.
Wyoming 30, Utah State 28