Attack The Opponent: Wyoming Cowboys
Craig Bohl has his Wyoming Cowboys doing some very nice things on the football field. Statistically, they’re fantastic as well. They have the second most prolific rusher in the country in Brian Hill, who went the F OFF vs. Nevada last Saturday. The Pokes are only allowing 139 yards on the ground on average per game, and has a very balanced offensive attack, averaging over 400 yards per game.
At first glance, it looks like a trap game. Wyoming is 4-2. They’re prolific offensively, hard to stop on the ground and will just run it up the gut forever if they are allowed to. They get 6 yards a play, and make pretty highlights and a lot of noise about being the only challenge left for the Mountain division.
Wyoming is also going to throw everything they have at Boise, just like everybody else on the schedule. The Broncos experience with strength of schedule brings a bias to my analysis – just how important is strength of schedule? Because that seems to be the real difference. Boise State doesn’t have great SOS – ranked 62nd in the country. But Wyoming is 92nd. The most difficult team they’ve faced was Nebraska, who blew them out 52-17. Nebraska is also the most fraudulent top 10 team since Tennessee appeared there in the preseason. Basically, Pokes Ain’t Beat Nobody. The Broncos “weak” schedule just keeps looking better and better with help from Washington State, but all the G5 teams are in the same boat. Luckily, Western Michigan has agreed to take a shift of rowing so we can all get some rest heading in to the home stretch of the season.
It’s hard to hate on Wyoming too hard. It’s tough to exist successfully in a landscape that is a constant battle. The mountains, the stark landscape, the never ending sky…Wyoming is a stunning place. But it’s also cold AF, sparsely populated by “colorful characters”, the icy breeze is ever-present, and Laramie is what happens when someone puts a pretty, small, mountain town in a wind tunnel with a bunch of dirt.
Wyoming’s fan base is nihilistic usually, but is having fun with a winning record and a good running game this season. Craig Bohl is doing Craig Bohl things and the team is improving. But this season, unless Boise State trips over itself, Wyoming won’t be able to keep up with the Bronco’s passing attack or Boise’s defense. BSU is going to do positively Husker-like things to the Cowboys, and should hold them down in the low 300 yard range of offense and maybe a couple TD’s.
Boise State is in a very good spot right now. They’re slowly climbing the rankings after reaching their goal of going 1-0 each week, and while there are definitely things that need cleaned up (turnovers! special teams! the lack of defensive takeaways!), 7-0 is a tough thing to do. There are only six undefeated teams left in the country after the chaos of last weekend, and to be among them is pretty great.
While the team probably shouldn’t look ahead, nothing is stopping the Boise State Twitter and message board denizens! Wyoming is just another opponent in the way of the Bronco Winning Machine. They’ll get some yards on the ground but Boise’s superior firepower will be too much to overcome. The rest of the schedule is going to be as much of a murderer’s row as the Mountain division gets – if BSU fails to show up any week between now and AFA, dreams of MWC Champ games and a possible Cotton Bowl, its all derailed and we’ll be playing UCLA in Vegas for Christmas and watching someone else get a shot to be The Next Boise State. It remains to be seen if they’ll do better than NIU, Houston, Georgia Southern, USA, or any other number of teams vying for that title for some reason. (Shout out WMU for being your own men!)
Each game has brought a lesson and a new list of things to work on. The team has been successful in performing well, adjusting to their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses both in game planning and in-game adjustments, and just figuring out how to win each week. The defense is just…ridiculous. The stats aren’t particularly eye popping in any given category, but this team is more than the sum of a stat line. Blocking a kick, then defending a Hail Joseph at the end of that BYU game after the offense pretty much trying to shove the game in to their grubby Cougar paws through giving up 8 penalties and five turnovers… talent goes a long way. But so, sometimes, does luck. It’s silly to attribute a win like that to anything but tenacity, because those men played their asses off, but it’s also silly to turn the ball over five times to a team who hasn’t lost by more than 3 points at any point this year.
As long as the Broncos keep applying these lessons all season and retain their magical properties, 2016 could end up very special indeed. There are challenges in the way of course – Wyoming, Hawaii, and Air Force are lurking. So is San Diego State. Things in the rest of the country are lining up nicely, so as long as Boise does their part, there is most likely a big reward in the future. Bronco Nation has got the agonizing over style points and poll rankings, and showing up to scream themselves hoarse in the night, which leaves a group of amazing young men nothing to worry about but beating the next team on the schedule and staying healthy. This week, it’s Wyoming, at 5 pm on Saturday. (TV: CBSSN) The Broncos have been solid on the road, and it’s about time for them to break through and play another complete game. #SorryNotSorry, Pokes. It’s not time yet. Boise has winning to do.