Dave Walsh: Arizona Bowl Has Been Good To The Cowboys

in Dave Walsh

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By Dave Walsh, Columnist

The College Football bowl season is upon us! The first of more than 40 bowl games will be played next Friday, Dec. 16. That’s when two teams that finished 6-6 in the regular season will meet in the HomeTown Lenders Bahamas Bowl. It’ll be UAB facing Miami-Ohio in Nassau, Bahamas.

And as expected, our favorite college football team will be participating in college football’s postseason. The Wyoming Cowboys are bowl-bound, headed to the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl in Tucson, Arizona. The Cowboys will play the Ohio Bobcats from the Mid-American Conference.

And what a great place to be Dec. 30 for the Cowboys. 

Wyoming football has been there. It was just three seasons ago when Wyoming played Georgia State in the 2019 Arizona Bowl. It was the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl back then. But the venue is the same, the 2022 Arizona Bowl will be played in Arizona Stadium. And the outstanding hospitality and support of the Tucson community will be just as it was three years ago.

And, of course, there is the weather.

Let me say that I’m a big fan of Boise, Idaho, but not necessarily for a football game. And the Big Blue is even more unpleasant in late December. Albertson Stadium is an outdoor venue, and Boise has a chance to be a bit harsher in December than Tucson.

I’m a big fan of bowl games, and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl has been a welcome and well-deserved accomplishment for Cowboys football. Both of the Potato Bowls the Cowboys played in were great achievements and wonderful successes. Those victories, in 2017 and 2021, were great statements as to where Wyoming football had come and where the program is headed.

And so was the 2019 Arizona Bowl. Appearing in the game was huge, it was a statement. And then winning the game, beating Georgia State, made it all even bigger.

The 2019 Arizona Bowl, the game itself, would be one of those wonderful successes for the Cowboys. Wyoming would take control of the game late in the first quarter and dominate their opponent over the next three quarters for a 21-point win, 38-17.

It was a glorious day in Tucson that day. The 2019 Arizona Bowl was played Dec. 31, while this year’s game will be played Dec. 30. The game would begin with a 2:36 pm kickoff. It was mostly sunny, 62 degrees, with a barely noticeable 4 mph wind.

I remember thinking that “this is bowl game weather.” It was about 40 degrees warmer in Tucson that day than the high in Laramie. And that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it was warmer! 

The 2019 Arizona Bowl was a bowl that included a whole list of events for the teams and their fans the entire week before the game. This bowl game had all the frills of a big-time bowl.

But anyway, back to the game!

The Cowboys actually fell behind when Georgia State scored just two minutes into the game. But a Cooper Rothe field goal six minutes into the game cut the Bobacat lead to 7-3. And seven minutes later, with 2:12 to go in the first quarter, Levi Williams hit Austin Conway on an 18-yard touchdown pass to take a 10-7 lead.

And the Cowboys never looked back.

Wyoming would extend the lead to 10 when Xazavian Valladay took a Levi Williams pass for a score from eight yards out. It was 17-7 Wyoming, with 35 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The Pokes scored with just 32 seconds left in the first half when Ayden Eberhardt hauled in a pass from Williams and galloped 51 yards for a touchdown. Wyoming took a 24-10 lead into halftime.

The Cowboys would extend the lead in the third quarter when Valladay scored from a yard out early in the quarter. Williams, the Cowboy quarterback, would run one in from six yards out with 1:21 to go in the third quarter. It would be the last score by either team.

The Cowboys had won the 2019 Arizona Bowl!

Valladay rushed for 204 yards and caught three passes for 91 yards. He scored a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown and was named the Offensive MVP.

Cowboy strong safety Alijah Halliburton had quite an Arizona Bowl too.

Halliburton had nine solo tackles, two assisted tackles for a total of 11 stops. He had one tackle-for-loss and an interception, and was named the Defensive MVP.

It all led to one of the most important and impressive Wyoming bowl wins, ever!

Just three seasons ago in Tucson, at the Arizona Bowl!

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