Wyoming Will Open Mountain West Conference Play At Air Force Saturday

Wyoming is in an exclusive group of 17 Football Bowl Subdivision teams to remain undefeated this season out of the 130 FBS teams competing.

Annaliese Wiederspahn

October 08, 20216 min read

Cowboys to field
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

This Saturday will mark the start of conference play for the Wyoming Cowboys as they travel to the Air Force Academy to face the Air Force Falcons. 

Wyoming will bring a 4-0 record into its conference opener, while Air Force is 4-1 and 1-1 in the Mountain West Conference.  Saturday’s game is scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m., Mountain Time from Falcon Stadium.  The game will be broadcast on radio over the Cowboy Sports Network and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

This year’s Cowboy team is also in a special group of teams in school history.  The 2021 Cowboys’ 4-0 start is only the 13th time in 125 seasons of Wyoming Football that a team has begun a season 4-0 or better. 

It is also the first time in 25 seasons that UW has begun a season 4-0.  The last time was in 1996 when the Joe Tiller coached Cowboys went on to start the season 9-0 on way to a 10-2 record, WAC Pacific Division title and a No. 22 national ranking in the final Associated Press and Coaches polls.

The 2021 Wyoming team has also posted the best start in the eight years that head coach Craig Bohl has led the Cowboys.  UW’s previous best start under Bohl was a 3-0 start back in 2019.  That 2019 team went on to an 8-5 season, including a championship in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.

Team Effort

Through its first four games this season, the Wyoming Cowboys’ success has definitely been due to a team effort from all facets of the team.

Wyoming’s offense has established a balanced attack that has proven difficult for opposing defenses.  The Cowboys have generated 722 rushing yards (49.0% of the offense) and 750 passing yards (51.0% of the offense) for 1,472 yards of total offense, which is 368.0 yards per game. 

UW’s offense has also performed well in key situations, ranking No. 1 in the conference in two key offensive categories — third-down conversions and scoring points in the red zone.  The Wyoming Cowboys are also among the best in the nation in 2021 in both of those key stats, ranking No. 15 in the nation in third-down conversions at 50 percent (28 of 56) and ranking No. 19 in red-zone offense at 94.1 percent (scoring on 16 of 17 red-zone opportunities).

Defensively, the Pokes have been outstanding.  Wyoming is No. 1 in the Mountain West and tied for No. 2 in the FBS in defensive touchdowns scored with three defensive TDs already this season. 

As you look at Wyoming’s defensive rankings this season, defending opposing offenses’ passing attacks has become a strength for the Cowboys.  Wyoming is No. 1 in the Mountain West and No. 10 in the nation in Pass Efficiency Defense.  UW also ranks in several other categories that relate to effectively defending the pass.  The Pokes are No. 3 in the MW and No. 16 in the country in sacks (averaging 3.25 sacks per game), are No. 20 in the nation in interceptions (6 total) and are No. 30 in pass defense (allowing only 186.5 passing yards per game).

Special teams has also been a consistent contributing factor to Wyoming’s success with sophomore place-kicker John Hoyland and redshirt freshman punter Ralph Fawaz both having outstanding seasons.

Team Effort — Part Two

Wyoming has also done an outstanding job on both sides of the ball in terms of forcing opponent turnovers on defense and protecting the ball on offense.  Wyoming is No. 1 in the Mountain West in turnover margin and No. 11 in the nation.  The Cowboy defense has forced eight opponent turnovers, while the Wyoming offense has committed only four turnovers all season.

Mountain West Openers

The 2021 season marks the 23rd season of the Mountain West Conference, and this year’s Wyoming-Air Force contest is the first conference game of the year for the Cowboys.  The Falcons have already played two MW games, losing at home to Utah State and winning on the road at New Mexico.

Wyoming is 11-11 (.500) in Mountain West openers. UW is 7-6 (.538) when opening MW play at home, and is 4-5 (.444) when opening on the road.  The Cowboys have won 5 of their last 8 MW openers and 4 of 7 in the Craig Bohl era.

This year’s MW opener will mark the ninth time in the 23 seasons of the MW that the Cowboys have opened Mountain West Conference play against Air Force — more than any other MW opponent.

The Cowboys’ record vs. Air Force in their previous eight Mountain West openers stands at 4-4 (.500).  Oddly enough the advantage has gone to the road team in the eight previous MW openers between the Cowboys and Falcons.  Wyoming is 3-1 in Mountain West openers played at the Air Force Academy, and Air Force is 3-1 in MW openers played in Laramie.

Chambers Return Has Been Outstanding

Cowboy quarterback Sean Chambers has had an outstanding return in 2021.  With Wyoming’s most recent win at UConn two weeks ago, Chambers record as Wyoming’s starting quarterback now stands at 13-3.  He was a perfect 3-0 in games he started in 2018, was 6-2 as a starter in 2019, went 0-1 in his lone game of 2020 after being injured on the third play of the season opener and he is 4-0 in 2021.

He also led Wyoming on two game-winning scoring drives this season.  Both game-winning drives came in the final two minutes of victories over Montana State and Northern Illinois.

Chambers Named a Candidate for the 2021 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year

Earlier this week, Chambers was named one of three new nominees for the 2021 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award.  

The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), in association with The Associated Press (AP) and the Fiesta Bowl Organization have selected three college football student-athletes—Chambers; McKenzie Milton, a senior quarterback at Florida State University; and J.J. Weaver a sophomore linebacker at the University of Kentucky—as nominees for the 2021 Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Ten times during the 2021 college football season, three inspiring student-athletes from all levels of college football who have overcome injury, illness, or other challenges, are recognized as Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Nominees by a panel of writers, editors, and sports information directors from CoSIDA, AP and Touchdown Illustrated.

In December, three of the 30 nominees will be chosen as winners of the Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Award and will be recognized at a special ceremony during the PlayStation® Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, 2022, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Where to Watch and Listen

For fans who are unable to attend Saturday’s game at the Air Force Academy there are several ways to watch and listen.

Radio Broadcast Information for the Cowboy Sports Network (CSN):

Every Cowboy Football game is broadcast live on the 26 affiliates of the Cowboy Sports Network

•Announcers are Dave Walsh, Play-by-Play (38th year), Kevin McKinney, Color Analyst (24th year) and

Reece Monaco, Sideline Reporter (11th year)

•The pregame show begins 90 minutes prior to kickoff.

Television Broadcast Information for Wyoming vs. Air Force Game

Saturday’s game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.  Announcers will be Rich Waltz (Play-by-play), Aaron Taylor (Color Analyst) and Amanda Guerra (Sideline Analyst).

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Annaliese Wiederspahn

State Political Reporter