What: Wyoming Cowboys vs. N. Colorado Bears
When: Saturday, September 10, 2022, 2 p.m. MT
Where: Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, WY
Coverage: Mountain West Network
Spread: Wyo - 22.5 | O/U 46.5 (via DraftKings)
History: The Cowboys and Bears have met a total of 26 times with the Cowboys holding the advantage 18-5-3 against their Southern neighbors. The last time these two teams met was in 2013 when the Wyoming Cowboys defeated the University of Northern Colorado Bears, 35-7.
What to know:
The Wyoming Cowboys will stay in Laramie and face off against the Northern Colorado Bears this Saturday in hopes of keeping spirits high on their home turf following the thrilling overtime victory against Tulsa one week ago. Though, for the Bears, it may not seem like too much of a road trip as the school lies just about 100 miles South of War Memorial Stadium in Laramie. The Northern Colorado Bears finished 2021 with a record of 3-8, competing in the Big Sky Conference of the FCS. It was coach Ed McCaffrey’s inaugural season as Head Coach due to the Bears not competing in 2020 because of the pandemic.
What to expect from Northern Colorado:
The Bears come into Laramie following a tumultuous 46-34 loss to Houston Baptist in their Week 1 opener. The loss featured a lot of offense and not a lot of defense, which is on par with what we should expect this weekend. The Bears scored 20 fourth-quarter points in the losing effort after getting off to a slow start. It is also currently anyone’s guess as to who will start the game for the Bears on Saturday with the minor injury sustained by starting QB Dylan McCaffrey late in the loss, as well as Sirmon’s impressive performance.
It is for certain, however, that the Bears do most of their damage through the air. Transfer QBs Dylan McCaffrey (Michigan) and Jacob Sirmon (Washington) combined for a total of 425 yards and 4 TDs through the air last week (McCaffrey 176 yds, 2 TDs/Sirmon 249 yds, 2 TDs), while the Bears’ leading rusher, RB Elijah Dotson, only had 10 carries for a total of 59 yards on the ground and 0 TDs. This team’s strength is its offense with two Power 5 transfers as options at QB, but the defense is where most of their struggles seem to lie.
The Bears’ defense struggled to find any type of consistency last week. They yielded 46 points to a Houston Baptist team they probably should’ve competed much better against. HBU scored less than 10 points in just the first quarter as they piled over 500 yards onto the Bears’ defense in the contest. Yes, it was only week one - and yes, Wyoming did something similar in their first week too - but that was while playing a Power 5 FBS school in Illinois, not a mediocre Southland Conference FCS school.
They were able to force one turnover in the effort, but they’ll need to do much, much more than that if they hope to compete against a Wyoming team that is sure to be in high spirits this weekend.
What to expect from Wyoming:
The Cowboys have a lot going for them at the moment. The Pokes are riding high following their overtime victory against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane and get to stay at home to try and do it again this week. Quarterback Andrew Peasley followed his porous effort in Week 0 with a magnificent game in Week 1, so what are we in store for in Week 2? Hopefully, a lot more of what we got last week. Peasley will be positioned well in going up against a Northern Colorado defense that struggled mightily against the pass in their debut, surrendering 302 yards and 4 TD through the air to Houston Baptist QB Justin Fomby. The running back room should also be licking their lips as the Bears gave up over 200 yards on the ground in the contest as well. The defense also gets a shot at redemption this week after allowing 75 points in their first two games combined.
The defense will not have it quite as easy as Northern Colorado presents a formidable offensive attack. The Pokes’ defense was burned through the air last week, nearly giving up 500 yards to Tulsa QB Davis Brin. They did, however, show some toughness in overtime, not allowing the Tulsa offense to generate much at all in the red zone. If Easton Gibbs can help his defense channel that mentality against a strong Northern Colorado air attack and keep it up for 48 minutes, they should find themselves in good shape when the final whistle blows on Saturday afternoon.
The one thing Wyoming can’t do is get complacent. They’re still a team that is trying to find their identity and they don’t want to play down to their competition this week. They also must keep their eyes on what’s in front of them and try not to look ahead to Week 4 against Air Force. Northern Colorado still has a bunch of weapons with relevant college experience at quarterback and receiver, and will be able to burn this team badly if the Pokes let them. While I don’t think this game will be a walk in the park for the Cowboys, I do expect them to keep the momentum and escape their homestand with a win.
N. Colorado 24
*P.S. Feel free to let me know your questions, thoughts, and/or predictions for the Pokes this week in the comment section below!