The Boise State Broncos will be traveling to Laramie this week to take on the Wyoming Cowboys. The Broncos and Cowboys have had a budding rivalry the past few seasons; the rivalry really heated up in 2016 when the Cowboys knocked off an undefeated Bronco squad that seemed destined for a New Year’s Six game. This year, the Cowboys will be looking to avenge their loss on The Blue last season. FatDuckUW and I (Zach Ballard) will be looking at what both the Cowboys and the Broncos need to come out with a win.
Location: Laramie, Wyoming (War Memorial Stadium)
Time: 5:00 MT
How to watch: CBS Sports Network
Will they be healthy?
Zach (Boise State): Probably not. It is the Bronco curse. They just can’t put together a healthy squad for an entire year. The Broncos are looking at significant injuries on both sides of the ball. It looks like Octavius Evans will be full go against the Cowboys. The new number one has the potential to add another dynamic to an already lethal wide receiver corps. Bronco fans have been dreaming of seeing Evans, Hightower, and Thomas on the field at the same time. As far as the defense goes, things look much more grim. David Moa is still not one hundred percent, and it sounds like Tyler Horton will be missing significant time. The Broncos could use Moa against the Cowboys and their run-heavy offense.
FatDuckUW (Wyoming): Much more so. The Cowboys will have some key players returning/healed up. Nico Evans is the biggest name coming back. The Wyoming running game has not looked the same since Evans got hurt in the 3rd quarter against Washington State. Also back is Austin Fort at TE. Austin Fort will give Vander Waal another weapon that has been missing since New Mexico State as Fort is probably the best athlete at the TE position for the Cowboys. The defense also gets a boost with Tyler Hall back at the SAM linebacker position. Hall has been a key part of the Wyoming defense who makes plays all over the field.
On the defensive side of the ball:
Zach: Stuff the box and finish tackles. Missed tackles were a glaring weakness for the Broncos against Oklahoma State. Wyoming does not have the same speed as Oklahoma State, but the Broncos cannot afford to give Wyoming second chances. The Broncos need to stuff the Cowboys run game early and often. Evans is coming off of an injury and looks like he will be good to go. Boise State cannot afford to let the Cowboy tailbacks build confidence early and break off some big runs. The Broncos have done a good job of stopping the run game early in their first three contests, and that needs to continue against Wyoming. The Broncos also need to take away the easy passing game for Vander Waal. The Cowboys like to use their passing game as an extension of their running game with easy underneath passes. If the Broncos can cut those off and force Vander Waal into making some tough throws over the top of the defense, they increase their chances of forcing some turnovers.
FatDuckUW: Try to follow what Oklahoma State did against Boise State and make the Broncos one-dimensional. That means controlling the line of scrimmage. In doing so, stop the running game. Also, generate some pass rush and sack/hit Rypien when he drops back to pass. The Wyoming secondary has struggled against the pass versus Washington State and Missouri. The Cowboys need to get the pass rush going to help that area of the defense out. Also, Wyoming needs to win the turnover battle. Wyoming was great at generating turnovers last year, and they could really use a game like last season where the Cowboys generate multiple turnovers. That could go a long ways in keeping Wyoming in this game.
On the offensive side of the ball:
Zach: Don’t let your quarterback get killed. Brett Rypien is the best player on this team by a long shot. The Bronco offensive line had an underwhelming performance against Oklahoma State; Rypien was sacked seven times and hit countless other times. Rypien was only sacked one time in the first two games. The Bronco offensive line needs to regain its previous form and keep their quarterback clean. Boise State also needs to establish the run game. Outside of the Connecticut game, running the ball has been a struggle. The tailbacks had no chance against Oklahoma State, and they will be facing another vicious defensive line this week. The Broncos also need to trust their quarterback. Rypien has been electric the first three games. Let Rypien do his thing and beat the Cowboys with passes down the field to Hightower and Thomas. I’m not sure if Wyoming has a DB that can keep up with Hightower.
FatDuckUW: Get the running game going with Nico Evans. Wyoming needs to be able to keep the game close, so they can continue to run the ball throughout the game. The Cowboys are not built to throw the ball around, so running to setup the passing game is for the best. Vander Waal needs to play smart and not turn the ball over as Wyoming must win the turnover battle to win this game. If Austin Fort can make some plays over the middle at TE, it could really improve what has been a lackluster Wyoming passing offense.
On Special teams:
Zach: Don’t let special teams cost you the game! As I re-watched the Oklahoma State game this past week, I wondered what the outcome of the game would have been if the Broncos had played to their ability on special teams. The punting game has been abysmal the first three games, and Hoggarth has had struggles with field goals. Make field goals and flip field position. If the Broncos can do those two things, they should be in good shape.
FatDuckUW: I doubt Boise State will play as poorly on special teams for two weeks in a row. Still, the Cowboys could really benefit from some big plays in the special teams if they are there to be had. Wyoming has also had to punt a lot already this season with 31 punts in 4 games. I’d love to see Wyoming punt only 5 times or less.
Boise State -16
Zach: The Broncos will go to Laramie angry and have revenge on their mind. Rypien throws for over 300 yards for the third straight game.If the Broncos can get a two score lead early, this has the potential to get ugly. Wyoming does not have the firepower to overcome a large defecit. Broncos 31-Cowboys 10
FatDuckUW: Realistically, Wyoming will either keep it close throughout, or Boise State will pull away in the 2nd half. Reason being, that Wyoming is not a team with a passing offense capable of coming back from behind. Also, if the Wyoming offense does not do their part, the Wyoming defense will be worn down later in the game (see Missouri game). On the flip side, if the Wyoming offense can run the ball, eat clock, and generate some points, the defense will be rested and should make some plays against Boise State. I think a rested, healthy, and prepared Wyoming team coming off of a bye week will be prepared to give a good effort. I’m not going to call for the win, but I think Wyoming will make Boise State sweat out a close one.
Boise State 27, Wyoming 20