Wyoming Cowboys Kick Off 2022 Season With First-Ever Meeting vs. Illinois

The Wyoming Cowboys and Illinois Fighting Illini play on Saturday, Aug. 27 in Champaign, Ill.  Kick time is set for 2 p.m., Mountain Time from Illinois' Memorial Stadium.

Annaliese Wiederspahn

August 27, 20227 min read

Wyoming cowboys 8 27 22
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The anticipation is almost over for college football fans as the 2022 college football season will kick off this week with 11 Week Zero games.  Among those 11 games will be a first-ever meeting between the Wyoming Cowboys and Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday, Aug. 27 in Champaign, Ill.  Kick time is set for 2 p.m., Mountain Time from Illinois’ Memorial Stadium.

Saturday’s 11 college football games are being played in what has been termed Week Zero.  In certain seasons, Week Zero games are played the week prior to the start of the full college football schedule.  It marks only the second time in Wyoming school history that the Cowboys will play a Week Zero game.  UW’s only other Week Zero game was in 2018 when the Pokes traveled to New Mexico State and came away with a 29-7 victory.

This week’s game will also mark only the 12th time in school history that Wyoming has played a game in the month of August.  The Cowboys have a 6-5 record in August games and have won five of their last six games played in the month of August.

Where to Watch and Listen

Every Cowboy Football game is broadcast live on the 26 affiliates of the Cowboy Sports Network.  Announcers are Reece Monaco, Play-by-Play (1st year), Kevin McKinney, Color Analyst (25th year) and Erick Pauley, Sideline Reporter (1st year).  The pregame show begins 90 minutes prior to kickoff.

Monaco steps into the role of “Voice of Cowboy Football” this season after serving as the sideline reporter for Wyoming Football for the previous 11 seasons.  He has been the “Voice of Cowboy Basketball” for the past two seasons.  He takes over for long-time “Voice of the Cowboys” Dave Walsh, who retired this past season after calling Cowboy games for the past 38 years.

McKinney is entering his 25th year as color analyst for Wyoming Football and later this year will begin his 50th year as the color commentator for Cowboy Basketball.

Saturday’s Wyoming-Illinois game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.  Announcers will be Brandon Gaudin (Play-by-play), Joshua Perry (Color Analyst) and Rick Pizzo (Sideline Reporter).

Rare Meeting vs. a Big Ten Opponent

The Wyoming Cowboys will be playing a rare game against a Big Ten opponent this Saturday when they face Illinois.  The Cowboys last played a Big Ten opponent in 2017 when they traveled to the University of Iowa.

Wyoming will be looking for only its second win over a Big Ten team in history when it travels to Champaign, Ill, this Saturday.  The Cowboys’ only previous win over a Big Ten team was a 21-12 win over Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., on Sept. 27, 1986. 

Wyoming will be playing Illinois for the first time in history.  The Cowboys have previously played only half (7) of the current member schools of the Big Ten, including: Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Wyoming Football Enjoying One of the Most Successful Periods in School History

Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl is entering his ninth season guiding the UW football program in 2022.  During his time in Laramie, Bohl and his coaching staff have enjoyed a great deal of success, including some accomplishments that have never before been achieved in Wyoming Football history. 

Wyoming is coming off a 2021 season that saw it capture its third consecutive bowl victory, defeating Kent State, 52-38, in the 2021 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.  The Pokes previously won the 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl over Central Michigan by a score of 37-14, and captured a 38-17 victory over Georgia State in the 2019 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.

Bohl and his staff accomplished two coaching firsts in Wyoming history with their appearance in the 2021 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.  They became the only Wyoming football staff to guide three Cowboy teams to bowl victories and also became the first Wyoming football staff to lead four of their teams to bowl game appearances.

Wyoming’s bowl invitation to the 2021 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl marked the fourth time in six seasons that Wyoming earned a bowl bid (2016 Poinsettia Bowl, 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, 2019 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl and 2021 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl).  That was a first in the 125-year history of Cowboy Football.  The previous best for the Wyoming Football program was four bowl game appearances in seven seasons from 1987 to 1993 (1987 Holiday Bowl, 1988 Holiday Bowl, 1990 Copper Bowl and 1993 Copper Bowl).  Those four bowl appearances between 1987-93 where split between the coaching staffs of Paul Roach and Joe Tiller.

Youth on Display

Saturday’s game will feature two of the youngest teams in the country.

Wyoming ranks No. 3 among all Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams in terms of total underclassmen on its roster entering the 2022 season.  Wyoming has a combined 96 freshmen and sophomores on its roster of 114 players (58 freshmen and redshirt freshmen and 38 sophomores).

Illinois ranks 13th among all FBS teams in total underclassmen with 81 of its 117 players being either freshmen or sophomores.

Running Back Titus Swen Named to Three Preseason Watch Lists

Wyoming’s junior running back Titus Swen has been named to three preseason watch lists entering this season.  Swen is on the Doak Walker Award Watch List (Nation’s Top College Running Back), the Paul Hornung Award Watch List (Nation’s Most Versatile Player) and the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Watch List (Nation’s Top Offensive Player With Texas Ties).

Swen concluded the 2021 season as a Second Team All-Mountain West selection by Pro Football Focus (PFF).  He rushed for 785 yards and seven touchdowns, while ranking No. 26 in the nation in average yards per carry (5.95 yards per carry).  Swen accounted for 1,040 all-purpose yards, including 231 yards in kickoff returns and 24 receiving yards.

Five Wyoming Cowboys Return After Earning 2021 All-Mountain West Honors

Leading the way for the Wyoming Cowboys in 2022 will be five players who earned All-Mountain West Conference honors a year ago.  PFF (Pro Football Focus) released its All-Mountain West teams at the conclusion of the 2021 season and five Wyoming Cowboys who were named on PFF’s teams return this season. 

Included among those Cowboys honored were Second Team selections Cole Godbout at nose tackle and Titus Swen at running back. 

Cowboy offensive tackle Frank Crum, linebacker Easton Gibbs and kickoff returner Cam Stone all earned Honorable Menton honors.

Godbout also was an Honorable mention selection on the All-Mountain West team selected by conference head coaches and media.

Cowboy Graduates

While the Wyoming Cowboys are a young team overall, they do have several veterans who have already earned their bachelor’s degrees.  A total of 10 Cowboys are college graduates and are now pursuing post-graduate studies at Wyoming.  Those 10 Cowboys are:

Student-Athletes               Bachelor’s Degree                                          Degree Currently Pursuing

Eric Abojei, OT                    B.A. American Studies                                      2nd B.A. Communication           

Frank Crum, OT                  B.S. Finance                                                      M.B.A.

Cole Godbout, NT               Management of Human Resources                  2nd BA in Communication

Deron Harrell, CB                Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis    M.A. in Higher Education Admin.

Jackson Marcotte, TE          Political Science                                               J.D. in Law

Andrew Peasley, QB            Exercise Science                                              2nd B.G.S in General Studies

Clayton Stewart, P               Business Management                                     M.B.A.

Zach Watts, OG                   Management                                                     M.B.A.

Wyatt Wieland, WR              Finance                                                             M.B.A.

Miles Williams, S                  Psychology                                                        2nd B.A. in American Studies

Amazing Marcotte

Another Cowboy who is a nominee for a national award this year is junior tight end Jackson Marcotte.  Marcotte is a candidate for this year’s American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team.  A native of Mt. Carmel, Ill., Marcotte has overcome two serious knee injuries during his college career to return to play for the Cowboys.  Off the field, he has accomplished amazing things.  He has already earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and is currently in his second year of Law School at UW.

When Marcotte isn’t pursuing his law degree or preparing for the upcoming football season, he is involved in a number of volunteer activities.  He is a member of the University of Wyoming Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Executive Board.  Marcotte serves as Co-Chair of the Mountain West Social Justice Committee, and he also participates in the Pistol and Friends Pen Pal Program.

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Annaliese Wiederspahn

State Political Reporter