On January 8, Tua Tagovailoa launched the bomb that gave Alabama its 17th title and ended the college football season. Meanwhile, a team a little closer to home ended their season a couple weeks before.
Wyoming had an interesting season, to say the least. Josh Allen came in with the highest of expectations after a summer of ESPN features, articles, and radio shows comparing him to this, that, and the other NFL quarterback. Most people expected the defense to improve under Scottie Hazelton, but I doubt many people were expecting the dominant performance they got.
First, let’s talk about Josh Allen. I’m not going to discuss his future too much (Lord knows you’ll hear enough of that between now and the draft), but instead his final season in brown and gold.
You can’t really expect Allen to perform to exactly the same level as he did in 2016, especially considering he lost four NFL level players on offense.
However, his drop in production was drastic. His QBR went from 73.8 to 52.6, which is basically like going from the likes of Sam Darnold, Drew Lock, and Will Grier to Nathan Stanley, Sam Ehlinger, and Kellen Mond.
It took Allen a little time to warm up this season as well. After a less-than-optimal performance against Iowa, he looked true to form against Gardner-Webb, dropping 328 yards and 2 touchdowns. Two clunkers against Oregon and Hawaii followed, where Allen completed a combined 18 passes, before finding some level of consistency throughout the rest of the season.
The Cowboys offense was pretty one-dimensional the entire season. The Cowboys boasted the seventh worst rushing attack in the nation, averaging just 3.2 yards per attempt.
After a monster rushing game against Hawaii (15 carries for 135 yards), freshman linebacker-turned-running-back Trey Woods took the starting job. Coach Craig Bohl stuck with Woods throughout the rest of the year, despite his lack of production. Though, to be fair to Bohl, none of the other running backs were giving him much competition.
Now, the crown jewel of the 2017 Wyoming Cowboys was the defense. Hoo boy, were they good.
21st in the nation in yards per game, 13th in points per game, 1st in takeaways, 1st in turnover differential. That’s right: your Wyoming Cowboys forced more turnovers than the owners of the Turnover Chain, Turnover Belt, or any other turnover trophy in the country. The Cowboys defense allowed more than 24 points one time all season: 49 against Oregon.
The silver lining here is that they’ll only get better. While they’ll be losing impact guys like Robert Priester, Rico Gafford, Tim Kamana, and others, several key players aren’t going anywhere. The top six tackling leaders are all here for one more year, as well as the sack leaders, the interception leaders, and fumble recovery leaders. Granted, most of those lists contain the same people, but this is going to be a fun group of guys to watch next year.
While Wyoming did win a bowl game for the first time since 2009, it still feels a little...hollow. Maybe it’s because the glitz and glamour of last year’s offense didn’t hold up. Maybe it’s because of the disappointing way the regular season ended.
Whatever the case is, Wyoming had expectations at the beginning of the year and met them, despite the unconventional path they took to get there. Regardless, this season is definitely one that we’ll look back on and remember a few years down the road.