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Game Preview: Wyoming vs Bowling Green

The Wyoming Cowboys are 2-0 going into this third week of the 2011 season. What is more important is that they are ranked 10th in the nation in total offense with an average of 540 yards per game. They have also averaged 275 yards of rushing offense and passed for an average of 265 yards in two games. Their two wins came at home with the season opener against Weber State (35-32) and last week a pounding of Texas State (45-10). Their numbers could change drastically after Saturday's game with Bowling Green of the Mid-American Conference. The Falcons are also 2-0 on the season. That game will kick off at 10 a.m., MT, from Doyt L. Perry Stadium in Bowling Green, Ohio, and MWC fans can catch it on ESPN3. The Ohio contest will be the Wyoming Cowboys first away game this season. Bowling Green is favored by 6.5 points and for good reason. They are only one spot behind the Pokes in total offense with 525 yards per game and ranked 11th in the nation. In their first outing they went up to the Kibbe Dome in Idaho and slapped the Vandals around on their way to a 32-15 victory. Last week they hosted Morgan State and handed them a 58-13 humiliatng defeat. Saturday they will be looking for a repeat performance in front of the hometown folks. So don't hold your breath for a big Cowboy win over the Falcons. Any Wyoming win will be good enough.
Sure the Cowboys are determined to put up another win for the conference and move to 3-0, but Bowling Green is not Weber State or Texas State. Last year the Falcons closed out their season with a 2-10 record under head coach Dave Clawson, but this year the Falcons look like a whole other animal. This year is Clawson's third year at Bowling Green and he has his thumb-print inbedded on the Falcons team logo. They are a complete unit and still young around the edges, but they had 38 lettermen and 13 starters back from the 2010 squad. And they intend to go to a bowl game this year. And why not? The Falcons offense is led by QB Matt Schilz, 6-2 211 lbs. Schilz has been impressive in his first two outings this season, and put up 549 passing yards, completing 35 of 54 passes with 7 TD's vs 1 INT. That's an average of 274 yards thru the air in each game. Schilz has a number of good receivers he can go, but none is more of a threat than WR Eugene Cooper, 5-9 181 lbs. In two games Cooper has caught 10 passes that average 24.4 yards, and one he hauled in was a 76 yard bomb. I won't mention that this deep threat has been good for 6 TD's so far. If Schilz has to hand the ball off, RB Anthon Samuel will be there to grind out a few yards. So far this season he has accounted for just over half of the Falcons ground game with 263 yards on 3 carries. That is an impressive 8 yards a run if you are looking at his stats. Bowling Green's defense was looking to make a lot of changes this year after getting run over last season. They must be doing something right. The Idaho Vandals managed just 52 rushing yards against the Falcons in their game up in Moscow, Idaho, and last week the Morgan State Bears were held to 193 in offensive yards, and only 37 were through the air. If the Falcons defense is looking to make a statement this week, Wyoming will find it out tomorrow. As for Wyoming, the offense has been well balanced in their attacks thanks to their new offensive coordinator, Gregg Brandon. The Pokes have run the ball 88 times and passed 73 times so far this season, and the offense has put up 1,081 total yards. That offense is led by freshman Brett Smith, 6-3 195 lbs. In two games he as tossed the ball for 530 yards, completing 43 of 72 attempts, and in both of those games he threw passes of 45 yards or more. He has also scrambled for 117 yards averaging 5.3 yards a carry and 3 TD's. Smith is ranked the #12 QB in the country this week in total offense with 323 yards per game. But if the young starter has a crack in his armor, it is that he has also thrown 3 interceptions vs 4 TD's. The Wyoming defense had a good outing last week and rolled all up and down Texas State. The Cowboys held the Bobcats to 189 yards of total offense and only allowed them 77 rushing yards. Junior-college transfer Korey Jones, 6-2 225 lbs, has had a great impact on the D-team. He had three QB sacks on three consecutive plays in the Cowboys' 45-10 win over Texas State. The game tomorrow ought to be fun to watch in what I would consider an evenly matched contest. OC Gregg Brandon has brought his own version of the spread offense out to the Wyoming cow country. Word is, the Poke fans are ecstatic about it because it is nearly the same form of offense Brandon and former Falcons HC Urban Meyer developed and used to perfection at Bowling Green back in the day. And on another level, it's ironic that Brandon will find himself looking across the field at the Falcons' sidelines. Before he was the Wyoming OC, Brandon used to be the Falcons head coach (2003-08). But he was let go at the end of the 2008 season end after posting a 6-6 record. If he is looking for revenge or to settle an old score he doesn't say it. "It's about Wyoming going to Bowling Green and getting a 'W'," he said recently when the subject came up. Gregg Brandon is right, you know. It IS all about getting that "W" posted in the Wyoming column.