Dave Walsh: The Largest Home Crowd At War Memorial Where The Cowboys Won

Columnist Dave Walsh writes: "The Cowboys were ranked 10th in the country going into the game, and a Wyoming win would give the Cowboys a second-consecutive outright Western Athletic Conference title."

Dave Walsh

June 10, 20225 min read

Dave walsh Uw
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The clock is ticking.  We draw ever closer to one of our favorite seasons of the year.

Summer?  Well, yes.  Fall?  Sure, and that is really closer to the “season” I’m talking about.

We are very near the real start of the season of which I speak.  The participants will start preparing with fall drills in just weeks.  We’re talking football, of course.

And any who are associated with the great game are getting close to the start of what is now, this season.  The games begin, at all levels very soon. 

Cowboy Football is now just twelve weeks from their 2022 opener, and War Memorial Stadium will welcome its first Cowboy home crowd in just thirteen weeks.

Anyone who has ever attended a Cowboy football game in War Memorial Stadium will tell you.  Anyone who has sat in the stands, and truly experienced Cowboy Football LIVE! and in person, will attest to it. 

They will tell you that Cowboy Football, in War Memorial Stadium, is different.  They will tell you that Cowboy Football, in War Memorial Stadium, is special, it’s a unique, one-of-a-kind experience.

And like any other football venue in America, if you add in a big crowd, well, now you’ve got something even more special.  The players, and the game itself, are the “stars” of the show.  They are the attraction, that attracts the fans.  And the fans become such a part of the sights and sounds that make up the total experience.

The Cowboys will play their first home game, in War Memorial Stadium, on September 3rd.  The Pokes will take on Tulsa, and no doubt, are hoping for a big crowd.  Big home crowds are always the goal, and that holds true for all teams, in all sports. 

Any participant will tell you that there is a direct effect that the supportive energy passed from fan to participant is palpable.  The positive energy and intensity that is transmitted is truly a thing, it’s real.  And the more the merrier.

And that set me to reminiscing.  It has brought me to a recalling of some big Wyoming games played in front of big Wyoming crowds. 

We recently recalled the Cowboy Basketball game staged before the biggest crowd in Arena-Auditorium history.  The Cowboys won that game, and an outright Mountain West Conference Championship, in 2002.   

So what about Cowboy Football?   What has happened in front of Wyoming’s largest crowds in War Memorial Stadium?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been at Wyoming’s eight highest-attended home games, including the Pokes last five sellouts in War Memorial Stadium. 

I was broadcasting those games from the Wyoming Radio Network booth, with windows open, and crowd-involved.  And which big-crowd game at the War was the first game I thought of? 

It wasn’t the CSU game in 1997, with the biggest crowd ever in Laramie of 34,745.  It wasn’t the BYU game in 1990, with the second-highest attendance of 34,231. 

And It wasn’t even the 3rd-biggest crowd ever in War Memorial Stadium for the Nebraska game in 2011 that came to mind. That was the last sell-out crowd for a Cowboy game in the War with 32,617 in the crowd. 

Maybe these top-three all-time attended games didn’t first hit me because the Cowboys actually lost all three.  In fact, Wyoming has lost 6 of their 8 highest-attended home games ever.

The first big-crowd, big-game that came to mind for me was a game the Pokes played before 32,210 active and intense Cowboy Football fans in 1988.  And the Cowboys won.  It was a War Memorial Stadium record-crowd, and is still the fourth-best home crowd ever. 

And there were many other things going on that made this a very big game.  The Cowboys played the UTEP Miners that Saturday afternoon in November, in a game that was nationally-televised. 

The Pokes were 9-0, after pummeling their arch-rival, Colorado State, in Ft. Collins, the week before. 

The Cowboys were ranked 10th in the country going into the game, and a Wyoming win would give the Cowboys a second-consecutive outright Western Athletic Conference title.  It was 42 degrees and sunny, with a 20 mile-per-hour breeze. 

And it was the Cowboys, in front of that record crowd, who would breeze to a 51-6 victory.

The Cowboys rolled-up 507 yards of total offense that day.  Hall of Famer, Randy Welniak, threw for 3 touchdowns, and ran for another. 

Dabby Dawson carried the ball 16 times for 134 yards, and Sean Fleming kicked 3 field goals, one a 52-yarder.  And the Cowboy defense held the UTEP running game to an astounding minus-60 yards rushing, on 20 attempts.  That’s minus-3 yards per carry!

It was the biggest crowd for a Cowboy victory in War Memorial Stadium history, and remains so, some 34 years later.  And it was the 1988 Cowboys, to be inducted in this year’s UW Athletics Hall of Fame, who did it.

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Dave Walsh

Sports Columnist