What: Wyoming Cowboys vs. Utah State Aggies
When: Saturday, Oct. 22nd, 2022, 7:45 pm MT
Where: Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, WY
Odds: Wyoming - 4.5, O/U 43.5
History: The Wyoming/Utah State rivalry is one of the oldest college football rivalries. Dating all the way back to 1903, these two teams have faced each other a total of 71 times, with Saturday being their 72nd meeting, playing for the Bridge Rifle Trophy in each matchup they’ve had since 2013.The Aggies hold the all-time advantage over the Pokes with 40 wins and 27 losses, however, the Cowboys defeated the Aggies during Utah State’s championship season last year by a score of 44-17, in Logan.
In the 2022 version of this historic rivalry, the Cowboys (4-3) and Aggies (3-4) both come in with a 2-1 conference record, tied for second place in the Mountain Division and playing good football. The Cowboys are coming off a late-stage comeback win over New Mexico 27-14 in Albuquerque, while the Aggies are coming off their second consecutive Mountain Division victory, beating the Colorado State Rams 17-13 in Fort Collins. Both teams also hold wins over the formidable Air Force Falcons.With the conference very much still up for grabs at the midway point of this season, the Bridger Rifle Trophy could hold a bit more weight when considering the implications of who could be raising the conference championship trophy at the end of the year.
What to expect from Utah State:
The biggest question concerning the Aggies heading into their matchup with the Pokes is who will start at the QB position. With Logan Bonner injuring himself at the beginning of the year, the Aggies have had that lingering question dangling over their heads for the past few weeks. Last week, QBs Cooper Legas and former Wyoming Cowboy Levi Williams suffered injuries and are currently considered day-to-day for the Aggies. Their third option is true freshman QB Bishop Davenport. Depending on who will go out there and take the snaps for the Aggies remains to be seen, but the team has proven they’re more than capable of running their offense no matter who is under center. For the fans’ sake, they may just hope that it’s Levi Williams - and what a reunion it would be. Levi Williams, the former Cowboy QB, going head to head with Andrew Peasley, the former Aggie? You can’t write a better script. Regardless of who it is, the Pokes need to prepare for more than just the opposing QB.
The Aggie backfield is led by RB Calvin Tyler Jr. So far this season, Tyler Jr. has carried the ball 139 times for 634 yards, which is almost three times more than the next guy up in the running back room, Robert Briggs (47 carries for 253 yards). With the quarterback room being dinged up, expect the Aggies to rely heavily on the ground attack as they’ve done in recent weeks. But don’t expect them not to toss the rock around, as the Aggies do possess a few very talented receivers, as they typically have in recent years. Maryland transfer Brian Cobbs has been a welcomed addition in their passing game with big play ability, and 6’6” wideout Justin McGriff is a physical specimen that has caused problems for opposing DBs.
All in all, despite the injuries to their QBs, the Aggies are a good football team who is seemingly hitting a stride down the stretch. The Pokes will have their work cut out for them. But with that being said…
Here’s what to expect from the Cowboys:
The Wyoming Cowboys have been a particularly hard team to pinpoint over their first 7 games of the season. However, in their most recent weeks they’ve fought valiantly against some tough opponents. Beating Air Force to begin conference play shocked many (including me), and putting up points against a top 20 team in the country in BYU proved that they can hang around with some of the best in college football. In this game, the Cowboys will once again be tasked with taking on some very talented players on offense and on defense against Utah State. The only question is, will we get the Cowboys from the Air Force and Tulsa games? Or the version of them against teams like SJSU and Illinois?
Since transferring from Utah State to Wyoming, Cowboys QB Andrew Peasley has completed 53.8% of his passes for 1,005 yards while throwing for nine touchdowns and three interceptions. His 234 net yards rushing also makes him the team’s second-leading rusher behind Titus Swen. His productivity at QB has been a welcomed sight in recent weeks and I expect Peasley to have a meaningful game against his former school where he was a backup for four years. But it won’t be entirely up to him. The Utah State defensive front seven are a sizable, dangerous group and may be the strength of their defense. If the Wyoming offensive line can hold up against them, as they’ve proven they’re more than capable of doing this season, I expect big games from Peasley and Swen on Saturday night against a Utah State defense that has allowed more than 30 points in three of their last five games.
As for the defense, I expect the heaviest responsibilities to lie on NT Gavin Meyer as he fills in for the injured Cole Godbout, Easton Gibbs, as he continues to be the leader for this defense, and CBs Jakorey Hawkins and Cam Stone as they are poised to matchup with some talented and physical wide receivers.
One thing we have seen is that when there is a lot riding on a matchup the Pokes have proven they’re willing to put it all on the line. This game brings it all. Not only is it Homecoming weekend, but it’s also the Bridger Trophy at stake, as well as major championship implications, and a rivalry matchup for Andrew Peasley and company. The Pokes have also played well on their home turf this season, which should bode well for their chances. All in all, I think if the Pokes bring the physicality and punch the Aggies in the mouth early, they possess the necessary grit to grind out a win with such high stakes at play. Give me the Cowboys to retain the Bridger Rifle for the second year in a row.
Utah State 24