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Poke Preview Week 7: New Mexico Lobos

Cowboys look to bounce back in search of first conference victory

NCAA Football: New Mexico at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

What: New Mexico Lobos vs. Wyoming Cowboys

When: Saturday, October 23rd, 1:30 p.m. MT

Where: Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, WY

Stream: Stadium (available online and on social media)

Series: Wyoming leads the all-time series against the New Mexico Lobos 38-35. In their last meeting, however, the Lobos scraped by the Pokes in pulling out a 17-16 victory in Las Vegas.

What to know: The good news is one of these teams will earn their first Mountain West Conference victory on Saturday. The Wyoming Cowboys (0-2, 4-2) will look to earn their first conference win when they face off against the New Mexico Lobos (0-3, 2-5) at home in Laramie. The Cowboys are coming off of being shut out against a wildly talented Fresno State team whom they limited to 17 points last Saturday. Unfortunately, the stellar performance from Chad Muma and the defense was overlooked due to the lackluster performance display from their offense. The team will look to shake off their past two bouts and claim victory in a game that is a crucial must-win.

Quarterback controversies galore

Arguably the most pressing issue for Wyoming and New Mexico heading into Saturday’s contest is the question of who will run out to take the snaps at quarterback to begin the contest. The Lobos have been dealing with Terry Wilson’s elbow injury, which means if he isn’t good to go on Saturday in Laramie, the duties will fall to either Isaiah Chavez or CJ Montes - both of whom are Freshman. As for Wyoming, Sean Chambers has recorded back-to-back underwhelming performances and has had major turnover issues which will lead to a Coach Bohl decision regarding who will start for the Cowboys, to be determined close to around game time. That decision will be between the starter for the first six games, Sean Chambers, and Freshman QB Levi Williams. So far this season, Chambers has completed 51% of his passes for 1004 yards with 6 TDs & 6 INTs. In six games while filling in for Chambers last season, the then Red Shirt Freshman Williams dotted just under 50% of his passes for 877 yards with 1 TD & 3 INTs.

Three keys to a Cowboy Victory:

1. Win the turnover margin

In their last game against Fresno State, the Cowboys’ inability to hold onto the ball cost them any chance at winning. Chambers and the offense turned the ball over a total of five times without forcing any themselves on the other end. That trend is going to have to take a dramatic turn for the Cowboys to avoid losing their third consecutive game, even against a not-so daunting Lobos squad.

2. Bring back the run game!

For the first time all season, last week the Wyoming backfield was very limited in its touches and yards gained. RB Xazavian Valladay rushed for only 35 yards on 9 total carries, while his cooperator Titus Swen added only 36 yards on 7 total carries. While it clearly wasn’t the best performance from either of the Pokes’ top ball carriers, in his weekly press conference Coach Bohl alluded to the “increased level of detail” that needed to be addressed on behalf of his veteran offensive line and their inability to finish off their blocks. Nonetheless, the Cowboys will have to be a much more sound unit as a whole, on offense and especially up front, to succeed against New Mexico.

3. Defense - do not change a thing.

If there’s one thing that has been a bright spot most of the year for the Pokes of Laramie, it’s their approach and scheme on defense. This 2021 defensive unit may have pitched a shut-out of its own last Saturday if it hadn’t been for the field position they were constantly being put in due to their offenses turnovers. LB Chad Muma has continued to make his case for a Butkus Award nomination, the secondary has been locking opposing players down ever since week two, and the defensive front has been a solid group all year long. If they can turn out half as good of a performance as they did against Fresno State, the Pokes should be able to glide to victory.

Prediction:

Despite the disappointing results of their past two contests, the Pokes are running into a team in New Mexico that has at least equal, if not more issues of their own. Also, Wyoming is the better team on paper. If there was any week for them to start to turn their season in the right direction, it’s this week against the Lobos. I think Wyoming gets off to a fast start in their Homecoming matchup this weekend. I’ll take the Pokes by a considerable margin of victory.

Wyoming 31

New Mexico 13