Wyoming Football will open its 2017 home football schedule on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 2 p.m. when the Cowboys host Gardner-Webb University in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Saturday’s game is the first of an outstanding seven-game home schedule for the Pokes in 2017.
The Pokes will be looking to continue the recent success they’ve enjoyed in War Memorial Stadium. A year ago, Wyoming won all six regular-season home games in War Memorial Stadium.
Tickets Still Available to Wyoming Home Games
Fans may still purchase tickets in advance to Wyoming’s seven home games in 2017 by going online at GoWyo.com/tickets, by calling 307-766-7220 or by stopping by the Athletics Ticket Office on the west side of the Arena-Auditorium. In addition to Gardner-Webb, the Cowboys will host Oregon (Sept. 16), Hawai’i (Sept. 23), Texas State (Sept. 30), New Mexico (Oct. 28), Colorado State (Nov. 4) and Fresno State (Nov. 18).
Wyoming Looks to Continue Home Success in 2017 Home Opener This Week, Cowboys Have Won Seven of Their Last Eight Home Games
As the Wyoming Cowboys kick off their 2017 home schedule this week versus the Gardner-Webb, they will be looking to continue the recent home success they’ve enjoyed in War Memorial Stadium.
From the last game of the 2015 season (a 35-28 home win over UNLV) through the 2016 season that saw the Pokes win all six of its regular-season games, Wyoming had won seven consecutive games. The only home loss last season came in the postseason when UW lost by three points (24-27) to San Diego State in the 2016 Mountain West Championship Game hosted by Wyoming.
Before Wyoming’s most recent seven-game win streak, the last time Wyoming had won seven consecutive home games began on Nov. 1, 1997, with a 41-17 win over San Diego State through an Oct. 24, 1998, victory over Rice (34-24.). The most recent time that Wyoming had won six consecutive home games began with an Oct. 14, 2006, home win over Utah (31-15) through an Oct. 6, 2007, home win over TCU (24-21).
Not only has Wyoming and Gardner-Webb never played each other in football, but never have the Wyoming Cowboys played a current member of the Big South Conference, a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) conference. The Big South consists of six universities that play football. Gardner-Webb is joined by Charleston Southern, Liberty, Monmouth, Kennesaw State and Presbyterian College in the Big South.
Gardner-Webb Only Third Cowboy Opponent From the State of North Carolina
Gardner-Webb University is located in Boiling Springs, N.C. Wyoming has played only two other teams in its football history from the state of North Carolina, and has an overall record of 3-1 versus teams from the state of North Carolina.
The Cowboys are 2-0 versus N.C. State, having defeated the Wolf Pack on the road in 1959 (26-0) and in Laramie in 1961 (15-14). Wyoming is 1-1 versus Appalachian State from Boone, N.C. In 2004, UW defeated Appalachian State by a score of 53-7, in Laramie. In 2015, the Pokes traveled to Boone, N.C., and lost by a score of 13-31 to the Mountaineers.
Cowboy Defense Coming Off Strong Performance at Iowa
Wyoming’s defense performed well in the 2017 season opener at Iowa last Saturday. The Cowboys allowed only 263 yards of total offense to Iowa. That was the lowest total since they held UC Davis to an identical 263 yards in the third game of the 2016 season. UW ranks No. 25 in the nation in pass defense, allowing only 125.0 yards passing versus the Hawkeyes. UW also ranks No. 34 in the country in total defense entering this week.
Poke defenders forced four turnovers, which was the first time they had forced that many turnovers since the sixth game of the 2016 campaign against Air Force. A year ago, the Cowboys were one of the nation’s best teams in forcing turnovers, tying for No. 10 in the NCAA with 27 forced turnovers. Currently, Wyoming ranks No. 6 in the nation this season in forced turnovers with four.
Many Contributors for Cowboy Defense Against the Hawkeyes
The strong play by the Wyoming defense in the 2017 opener at Iowa included outstanding performances by a wide variety of players. Sixteen different Cowboy defenders were credited with tackles at Iowa. Four different Cowboys forced four Iowa fumbles(Marcus Epps, Carl Granderson, Jalen Ortiz and Kevin Prosser). Wyoming had four different individuals come up with turnovers. Sidney Malauulu, Cassh Maluia and Kevin Prosser each recovered one Hawkeye fumble, and Rico Gaffordintercepted an Iowa pass.
Granderson Returns to Form in First Game Back From Injury
Junior defensive end Carl Granderson was enjoying an outstanding sophomore season a year ago, before he suffered a season-ending injury in the sixth game of the year against Air Force.
In his first game back at Iowa in the 2017 season opener, Granderson returned to the form that made him one of the most promising defensive linemen in the Mountain West last season. He was credited with 10 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, one forced fumble and two quarterback hurries against the Hawkeyes. He led the Cowboys in each of those categories on the day.
Cummings and Overstreet Also Bounce Back From Injuries
In addition to Carl Granderson’s strong return from injury, two other Cowboys coming off extended injuries had strong performances in the season opener at Iowa.
Senior offensive lineman Ryan Cummings started at left guard vs. Iowa after missing the final seven games of the 2016 season due to injury.
Redshirt sophomore running back Kellen Overstreet missed the entire 2016 season after undergoing surgery following the 2015 season. Overstreet had seven rushing attempts for 24 yards at Iowa in his first game back.
2017 Cowboy Squad Still Relatively Young
A look at who played in Wyoming’s season opener at Iowa indicates that the Cowboy roster is still relatively young. Only three Cowboy seniors started in the 2017 opener, and only eight seniors played in the game. The sophomore class led both in terms of starters (10) and most individuals who played (19). Wyoming’s junior class was also well represented, with eight juniors starting the game and 16 playing at Iowa. Three Cowboy true freshmen started the game (offensive linemen Logan Harris and Alonzo Velazquez and punter Tim Zaleski). A combination of 10 true and redshirt freshmen appeared in the 2017 season opener.
Where You Can Listen and Watch the Game
Saturday’s home opener for the Wyoming Cowboys will be broadcast on radio over the 26 affiliate stations of the Cowboy Sports Network, with Dave Walsh describing the play-by-play action and Kevin McKinney providing color analysis. The radio broadcast begins with the pregame show one hour prior to kickoff, or 1 p.m., M.T. this coming Saturday.
The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet with Ari Wolfe handling play-by-play and Sed Bonner adding color commentary. Brad Thompson will report from the sideline.