The primary problem with winning through unsustainable means is that they often lead to unsustainable goals. Win eight games one season, and you will feel pressure to win eight the next. With home games versus Cal Poly, Air Force and Colorado State, along with winnable road games versus Idaho, New Mexico and UNLV, we'll set the bar simply at bowl eligibility. Sustain last year's gains to some degree, and you have succeeded. But it might be difficult.
While at Football Outsiders, my friend Bill Barnwell spoke a lot about the concept of "regression toward the mean" versus "regression TO the mean." We look at projection factors like turnovers luck and fumble recovery percentage, and when we see a team that got particularly lucky or unlucky, we assume the luck will shift just as violently in the other direction the next season. It doesn't typically work that way; well, it doesn't unless you are Wyoming, anyway.
In three years under Christensen, Wyoming has been quite lucky, quite unlucky, and quite lucky again. It is easy to get sucked into the pattern, then, and assume all the breaks will go against the 'Pokes in 2012. If they do, then Wyoming will struggle mightily to match last year's success. If it doesn't, however -- if Wyoming has what I will just call neutral luck -- then the Cowboys' experience and depth (and a manageable schedule) could carry them to their third bowl in four seasons. Wyoming has interesting talent all over the field (Brett Smith, Dominic Rufran, Nick Carlson, Ghaali Muhammad, Korey Jones, the cornerbacks, Mark Nzeocha, etc.), and they are quite experienced. But will they get the bounces?
Wyoming has won games without the benefit of actually being very good in recent years, and now they are positioned to get quite a bit better. There's something to be said for that.