By Dave Walsh, Cowboy State Daily columnist
We are a mere fortnight from the start of college football really, the very beginning of Cowboy football to be sure. There are football sounds being heard in neighborhoods all over this great land, and very much so in our great land. Wyoming’s high schools are getting ready, and the Cowboys have been hard at it in fall drills. And now, well, two weeks from now, Wyoming plays Illinois to start things in the much-anticipated 2022 Season.
Football fans are pretty-much all-in by now. At the very least, the obsession has begun for those who have a passion for the game. I love the pre-season talk that goes with being a passionate fan. Oh like, how important that running game will be. Or, just how important it will be for the defense to stop the run. Football interest, whether it be high school, college, NFL, or all of the above, is on the rise.
And even though my particular participation in Cowboy Football has changed, a lot of my passion and interest, has not. The game has had its grip on me for as long as I can remember, well over 60 years since the first moment of being smitten by football. And almost four decades of flat-out, first-class Cowboy Crazy. I’ll not deny it. I was the Cowboy Radio announcer, but I was also a big-time fan.
So here we are, a week away from game week, and just two weeks from the Season Opener itself. The Curtain Lifter will take place in Champaign/Urbana Illinois. The Cowboys have never played there, in fact, the Pokes haven’t ever played Illinois. Not in 125 years of Cowboy Football! Let’s see. First game, on the road, at the home stadium of a Big Ten team. I’m in! My Cowboy Football obsession has begun.
The early word out of fall camp has been mostly about how positive and genuinely excited the Cowboys are for the upcoming season. And much of the most positive results are coming from that all-important aspect of “running the football”. Much of the Cowboys experience lies in the offensive line, and with an experienced Titus Swen to carry much of the load, the Cowboys appear very capable in the running game.
This really is nothing new. In fact, running the football, is a Cowboy tradition.
Now I know that being able to run the ball is important to most, if not every offense. In some, it is everything. Rushing the ball is all they do. But even in a pass-happy offense, the running game, and its effectiveness, is important.
And the Cowboys have always been dedicated to doing that very thing, rushing the football. The top ten Cowboy career rushing leaders established their career totals in the last 38 years. And I had the privilege to broadcast just about every one of their games. A top ten list made up of Brian Hill, the all time leader with more than 4,000 yards, and followed by Devin Moore, Ryan Christopherson, Wynel Seldon and Marques Brigham. Shaun Wick, Gerald Abraham, Xazavian Valladay, Derek Armah, and Kevin Lowe round out the top ten. I saw them all.
I was also fortunate to witness nine of the 10 single-game performances ever. Dave Evans had the 10th-best single-game rushing total for the Cowboys, against Colorado State in 1984. I remember that game, in Fort Collins, when Evans, the Cowboy fullback, ran over and through the Rams for 228 yards. Evans ran the ball 29 times, averaging almost eight yards a carry, and scored two touchdowns.
The Great Myron Hardeman ran for a then-record 230 yards against San Diego State in 1978. That’s still the 9th-best single-game total.
Brian Hill, Wyoming’s career-rushing leader, had four of the eight top single-game bests. Ryan Christopherson had the fourth-best single game total, Shaun Wick and Devin Moore are tied for the 6th-best game in Cowboy history.
I saw them all, but the one I remember most is the top scoring game of them all.
The Wyoming single-game rushing record was set in 1984, in a late-season non-conference game against South Dakota State. And it still stands, some 38 seasons later. It was my first season in the Cowboy Football broadcast booth, and in just my 11th Cowboy broadcast, Wyoming running back, Kevin Lowe, ran for a record 302 yards. He got all those yards in just 10 carries, an incredible 30.2 yards per carry. Lowe scored three touchdowns that crisp November afternoon in War Memorial Stadium. He would score on two 76-yard TD runs, and would put the game away on an 87-yard touchdown run. The Cowboys would score 45 points that day, and win big.
A strong running game has always been a top priority for the Cowboys. It will be no different for this Wyoming team.