Montana State vs. Wyoming: Game Preview, How to Watch, Livestream Odds, Prediction
The Cowboys open up the 2021 season against FCS #13 Montana State. Here’s how to watch the game and what to watch for against the Bobcats.
Wyoming looks to take down a tough opponent.
WEEK 1: Wyoming Cowboys vs. Montana State Bobcats
WHEN: Saturday, September 4th — 2:00 PM MDT/1:00 PM PDT
WHERE: War Memorial Stadium; Laramie, WY
STREAMING: Mountain West Network
RADIO: The Wyoming broadcast can be found throughout the state on the affiliates of the Cowboy Sports Network, including flagship 1240 AM (KFBC) in Cheyenne. The Montana State broadcast can be found on the affiliates of the Bobcat Sports Radio Network, including 100.7 FM (KXLB) in Bozeman.
SERIES RECORD: Wyoming leads the overall series, 13-6. In the last meeting on August 30, 2003, the Cowboys defeated the Bobcats, 21-10, in Laramie.
ODDS: Wyoming -18
SP+ PROJECTION: Wyoming by 25.7
After a disappointing and shortened 2020 season, Wyoming opens 2021 on September 4 when Montana State comes to War Memorial Stadium for its first live action since the 2019 season.
That year, Montana State finished (11-4) and made it to the FCS national semifinals, falling to North Dakota State. The Bobcats also lost their only game against a FBS teams in 2019, playing their only such game against Texas Tech. In that game, Montana State gave up 691 total yards, including 436 yards through the air and 255 yards on the ground.
On offense two years ago, the Bobcats averaged 258 yards per game on the ground, 168 yards per game through the air, and 33 points per game while holding their opponents to 22 PPG on average. They return many offensive weapons including running back Isaiah Ifanse. However, incumbent starting quarterback Tucker Rovig has been surpassed on the depth chart by North Carolina State transfer Matthew McKay, a decision driven by new head coach Brent Vigen, who was the Wyoming offensive coordinator from 2014 to 2020.
Three Keys for a Wyoming Victory
1. Control both sides of the line of scrimmage
New offensive coordinator or not, there is no question about what Wyoming wants to do with the football: Run the ball down your throat. Even when Josh Allen was the Pokes’ starting quarterback, the Cowboys ran the ball 60 percent of the time. I expect this game to have similar splits for the Cowboys, with 60 percent of offensive plays being rushes.
It helps that Wyoming returns perhaps the best offensive line in the Mountain West Conference this year, anchored by junior center Keegan Cryder, who has started 31 consecutive games for the Pokes. The experienced Cowboy offensive line should be able to impose their will on the Montana State defense and open running lanes all day.
The Cowboy defense also returns considerable talent: including linebacker Chad Muma and defensive end Solomon Byrd. Wyoming has ranked in the top 20 the past two years against the run, ranking sixth in the nation in 2019 by allowing fewer than 100 yards per game on the ground. Look for Byrd to make his presence felt in his first game back after opting out last year.
2. Use play action to establish the passing game.
If the Cowboys are going to achieve their potential this year, they need to establish a reliable passing game. In 2020, Wyoming scored only one passing touchdown for the entire season, throwing for a dismal 136.2 yards per game. Head coach Craig Bohl and new OC Tim Polasek have promised to revamp the Cowboy offense this year and to improve on the passing game.
With a running game as potent as the Cowboys have, establishing the passing game through play action will keep the Montana State defense on their toes. Quarterback Sean Chambers returns from a season ending injury last year with a new number on his back, and the Cowboys offense will go as he goes.
3. Limit turnovers and penalties
If the Cowboys play a clean game with minimal penalties and turnovers, it should be victory to start the season. Wyoming ranked 27th in the country last year, only committing five penalties per game. As far as turnovers go, Wyoming gave up the ball 1.5 times per game, with a positive 0.2 turnover margin per game. There isn’t a lot to complain about on the turnover front, but turnovers can derail a game.
This game looks to be a ground and pound slugfest. The team that dominates at the line of scrimmage will win this game, and Wyoming has the talent and should have the discipline to do it. Xazavian Valladay will get his, but the star of this game will be Chambers, who will shine in both the passing and running game.
Wyoming 41, Montana State 10