LARAMIE -- What were your initial thoughts on Wyoming's 2024 schedule?

I immediately saw four of the first six games were at home. My attention quickly shifted to the backend, though, which sees the Cowboys on the road three times in November, including the Border War meeting with Colorado State and a tough one at Washington State.

The one home game in that crucial month comes against the defending league champions, Boise State.

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I also couldn't help but notice Wyoming opens Mountain West play against Air Force. You'll read below what my thoughts are on that one.

On Thursday I broke down the non-conference slate. You can find that right HERE. Now, we shift focus to the regulars.


AIR FORCE - Sept. 28 - War Memorial Stadium - Laramie, Wyo.

This Front Range battle always seems to be hotly contested. That's because it is. Wyoming has won six of the last 10 meetings. The Falcons have claimed 3-of-4.

The overall series sits at 31-27-3 in favor of Air Force, though the Cowboys are 15-11-2 all-time at home. In fact, they have been victorious in four straight against the Fly Boys in Laramie.

If you're like me, opening up conference play against the Academy is not exactly ideal. Typically, that triple-option attack is humming. Bodies, fresh. Not to mention those guys always seem to play a cupcake or two to kick off the campaign.

That doesn't change this year, either.

Air Force's opening-day opponent has one of those logos that is so unrecognizable you have to actually search to see who it is. It's Merrimack. They are the Warriors and play in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. They are located in Massachusetts. They are an FCS school.

They can get in line with Robert Morris, Northern Iowa, Lafayette, Colgate and Stony Brook, among the other sacrificial lambs to open the season inside Falcon Stadium.

To make matters even more difficult in 2024, Air Force's first bye week comes right before their trip to Laramie. They do play San Jose State and at Baylor before taking a blow. The Cowboys will be coming off four straight games, including playing a pair of Big 12 foes. Their bye week comes after the Falcons.

This should be another classic on the high plains.


SAN DIEGO STATE - Oct. 12 - War Memorial Stadium - Laramie, Wyo.

These two programs haven't hooked up in Laramie since the Mountain West Championship game in 2016.

You remember that frigid night inside War Memorial Stadium. Rashaad Penny and Donnel Pumphrey combined to rush for 227 yards and three touchdowns, lifting the Aztecs to a 27-24 victory.

Wyoming and San Diego State have played just once since that night, another escape job by those guys, 26-22, inside Qualcomm Stadium back in 2019.

Much has changed since then.

Both of these teams now have new head coaches. Both have new visions for the offense, too. While Wyoming plans to be more balanced on that side of the ball, we have already gotten a glimpse of the attack Sean Lewis plans to run. He was the head man at Kent State when the Cowboys faced the Golden Flashes in the 2021 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Yes, Levi Williams went nuts that afternoon on The Blue, but if it wasn't for that 200-yard, four-touchdown performance, Wyoming could've been in big trouble. Kent State QB Dustin Crum lit up the secondary, throwing for 316 yards and four touchdowns. Two wideouts, Dante Cephas and Nykeim Johnson, eclipsed the 100-yard mark. So did running backs Marquez Cooper and Bryan Bradford.

The Flashes put up 656 yards of total offense in that 52-38 loss.

Will Lewis have the horses to do that in San Diego? Eventually. The cupboard is pretty bare right now, especially on offense. It doesn't help that 22 players have hopped in the NCAA Transfer Portal since December.

Or maybe it does?

This new-look Aztec team will be interesting to monitor. You have to love that this game is in Laramie and coming off a bye.


SAN JOSE STATE - Oct. 19 - CEFCU Stadium - San Jose, Calif.

Wyoming, of late, plays awful inside this venue.

Why? Great question.

San Jose State, aside from a few spurts here and there and an impressive title run during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 campaign, hasn't exactly been imposing. CEFCU Stadium has been seemingly under construction for years. Not sure if the locals have even noticed. Less than 17,000 come through the turnstiles on average.

The Cowboys have dropped three straight in San Jose. The last win over the Spartans on the road came all the way back in 1996. That was Joe Tiller's Pacific Division Championship team.

Like Wyoming, SJSU is also breaking in a new head coach. Ken Niumatalolo takes over for Brent Brennan after spending last year as the tight ends coach at UCLA. Prior to that, he was the head man at Navy for 16 seasons.

One thing Niumatalolo will reportedly not be bringing to the Bay Area with him this fall is the vaunted triple-option attack he utilized at Annapolis. Something else he will need to get used to is finding players in the transfer portal, something service academies are prohibited from doing. He better learn quickly, too. SJSU lost 14 players, per It appears they have brought in just four, not including QB/ wide receiver Nick Nash.

Chevan Cordeiro has finally run out of eligibility after being under center at Hawaii and SJSU for what seems like the last two decades. Who will Niumatalolo turn to? Former four-star Oregon transfer Jay Butterfield could be the guy.


UTAH STATE - Oct. 26 - War Memorial Stadium - Laramie, Wyo.

Some fans were bummed that Utah State wasn't a "protected rivalry" when the Mountain West ditched divisions before the start of last season.

I didn't share that sentiment.

While this game has largely been a competitive one -- The Aggies have won five of the last nine -- this "rivalry" has always seemed manufactured. Sure, it's cool to play for a traveling trophy, especially Jim Bridger's Rifle, but maybe this one doesn't register because I'm from the east side of the state and know it will never replace what Wyoming lost in annual meetings with Utah and BYU.

I digress.

Blake Anderson stuck lightning in a bottle during his first season in Logan, leading a transfer-heavy roster to a Mountain West Championship. Since, however, Utah State has mostly been treading water, finishing 6-7 over the last two years.

Once again Anderson is looking for a little magic in the portal, inking 15 players -- eight from Power-4 programs -- including former Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras. Cooper Legas, last year's starter, will also return for a final season in Logan after throwing for 1,815 yards and 19 touchdowns last fall. He also added 122 yards on the ground.

Utah State has a commanding 40-27-4 lead in the all-time series, which dates back to 1903. The 1920's and 30's largely belonged to the Aggies, but the Pokes made up plenty of ground in the 50's and 60's under Phil Dickens and Bob Devaney's leadership.

This is a historical matchup and one that should land on homecoming. Wyoming has dominated the last two meetings, including hammering the title-bound Aggies 44-17 on the road in 2022.

Anderson's teams haven't matched up well with Wyoming. I don't see that changing this fall.


NEW MEXICO - Nov. 2 - University Stadium - Albuquerque, N.M.

Welcome back, Bronco Mendenhall.

Not sure how welcoming Wyoming should be. While he was the head coach at BYU, Mendenhall's Cougars were 6-0 against the Cowboys, winning by a margin of 31 points. That included consecutive shutouts in 2008-09.

New Mexico isn't BYU.

Mendenhall has his work cut out for him, attempting to turn around a program that hasn't finished with a winning record since 2016. In fact, the Lobos haven't won more than four games in a season since. That happened last fall.

Mendenhall is no stranger to Albuquerque. He served as the program's defensive coordinator under Rocky Long from 1998-2002. Even with those two at the helm for those five seasons, New Mexico was bowl eligible just twice.

This will be a tall task.

The Lobos haven't had a true identity on offense since Bob Davie started tinkering back in 2012. Still, somehow, the Lobos have managed to stay competitive with the Cowboys. During the Craig Bohl era (2014-2023), Wyoming was just 5-5 against this team, dropping two of those games at home and an inexcusable 17-16 setback inside an empty Sam Boyd Stadium during the pandemic in '20.


That 3-3-5 defense. That's the same scheme that tripped up the Pokes four times in six meetings against Long while he was the head coach at San Diego State from 2011-19.

The one bright spot for the Lobos last fall was the performance of running back Jacory Croskey-Merritt, who rushed for 1,190 yards and 17 touchdowns on just 189 carries. That's an average of 6.3 yards per carry. That bruiser is now in Arizona's backfield after entering the transfer portal in late January.

Mendenhall is basically starting from scratch. The Lobos, as any seasoned Wyoming fan knows, are never to be overlooked.


COLORADO STATE - Nov. 16 - Canvas Stadium - Fort Collins, Colo.

Wyoming fans better hope when Bohl rode off into the sunset this offseason he didn't take his Border War magic with him.

The Cowboys have owned this rivalry, winning 7-of-10 with Bohl at the helm. Before that, it was Dave Christensen who went 4-1 against Wyoming's most-hated rival. Since Sonny Lubick left Fort Collins back in 2007, Colorado State has dropped 11-of-16 in this series, including three straight.

The Rams are also on their fifth head coach.

Sawvel, who has served as Wyoming's defensive coordinator since 2020, has limited CSU to under 20 points a game. That's including a 34-24 loss during the COVID season. Since, the Rams haven't scored more than 17.

The guys down south still have an eight-game advantage (59-51-5) in the overall series, but that gap is closing in a hurry.

Jay Norvell's famous "air raid" offense hasn't quite taken off during his two seasons on the sidelines in Fort Collins. In 2022, CSU never eclipsed the 20-point mark in a game. Aside from a 34-19 home loss to Middle Tennessee, the Rams never scored more than 17.

Last year was better, but not much.

The win total jumped from three to five. CSU's offense finally showed glimpses against Colorado and Boise State. Still, the issues remain. Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi proved to be a gunslinger, throwing for 3,460 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also pitched 16 interceptions, including two right into the hands of Wyoming linebackers Easton Gibbs and Shae Suiaunoa.

Tory Horton is still arguably the best player in the Mountain West. For some reason, he has decided to return, too, after snagging 96 passes for 1,136 yards and eight touchdowns. He poses a major problem on the outside and in the kicking game. Wyoming knows about both all too well.

If Fowler-Nicolosi can limit mistakes and Horton stays healthy, this offense could finally find its footing in 2024. CSU and Wyoming will both have two weeks to prepare for the 116th Border War after coming off bye weeks.

This could be a fun one down south.


BOISE STATE - Nov. 23 - War Memorial Stadium - Laramie, Wyo.

The Broncos, who started the 2023 season 3-4 overall before reeling off 5-of-6 to reach and ultimately win the Mountain West Conference, return plenty of starters and firepower this fall under first year head coach Spencer Danielson.

Ashton Jeanty returns to the backfield after rushing for more than 1,300 yards and finding the end zone 14 times on the ground. The punishing back also caught 43 passes for 569 yards and five scores.

When does Boise State not have a stud back there?

With Taylen Green now at Arkansas, Danielson and Co. appear to have the QB situation figured out with the return of Maddux Madsen and four-star USC transfer Malachi Nelson.

That's all good news for the class of the conference.

Apparently there's more, too.

According to the Idaho Statesman, the Broncos have a "cake conference slate" up ahead. True, Fresno State and Air Force, two of the better programs in this league, are now on the schedule. Instead, Boise State gets Nevada, Utah State and San Diego State at home. They will play Hawaii, UNLV and San Jose State on the road.

The Broncos also come to Laramie on Nov. 23.

Cake? Hardly.

Aside from last year's disaster inside Albertsons Stadium, the Cowboys have been gaining on Goliath. The overall series is about as lopsided as it gets -- 17-1 -- but the average margin of victory sits at just six in the previous four meetings, including a 20-17 overtime affair in 2019.

"Weather and Altitude" make this a tricky matchup, per Boise's local newspaper. The Cowboys might just play a part, too, returning nearly their entire defense along with 4-of-5 offensive linemen along with Harrison Waylee, John Michael Gyllenborg and Co.

Circle this one.


WASHINGTON STATE - Nov. 30 - Martin Stadium - Pullman, Wash.

The Mountain West and the two Pac-12 leftovers -- Oregon State and Washington State -- came to a scheduling agreement this offseason. That pair will essentially play a conference schedule but won't have any impact on the final outcome of the league race.

In other words, this one isn't for all the marbles, unless Wyoming is vying for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

These two programs have met seven times with the Cougars holding a 5-2 advantage in the series. Wazzu has won two straight, including a 41-19 victory courtesy of Mike Leach to begin the 2018 season.

Jake Dickert, the head coach in Pullman, was Wyoming's safeties coach from 2017-18. The following year he became the defensive coordinator under Bohl. In 2020, Dickert, along with fellow UW assistants AJ Cooper and John Richardson, joined Nick Rolovich's staff in Pullman.

One refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine later and Dickert was inserted in the head chair in 2021. He almost immediately went back to the well and snagged Wyoming's defensive tackles coach Pete Kalagis.

With Wazzu in limbo after its conference disintegrated around it, a number of players have hopped into the NCAA Transfer Portal, including starting quarterback Cam Ward and top wideout Josh Kelly. In total, the school lost 18 players, per

That's just one of the many obstacles these two are going to face. Another is the mandatory pay cuts the football staff is being forced to take because of the loss of television revenue.

It will be interesting to see how the Cougars and Beavers fit into the league this season. Both seem like natural fits if this becomes a long-term relationship. Fans don't like it. Neither does the school's bank account. I wouldn't, either.

Wazzu will travel to Corvallis the week before they host the Pokes.



Not a huge fan of playing Air Force in September, especially with the Falcons coming off a bye week, but at least it's in Laramie. Sawvel has shown time and time again he knows how to defend the triple-option, too.

My immediate reaction to having only one game in Laramie in November was, uh oh. Now, I don't see it that way at all, mainly because the Washington State game means nothing in the conference standings.

A bye before CSU is never a bad thing. Trips to Albuquerque, of late, haven't been either.

San Diego State, San Jose State and New Mexico are all breaking in new head coaches. San Jose State, for some reason, has been a tough road venue for the Pokes, but that program has always seemed to have a solid QB. That might not be the case this time around.

Like I mentioned above, Boise State is a game I'm circling.

Yes, it should be nice and frosty on the high plains, especially if that's a night game. While the Broncos still remain the cream of the crop in this conference, don't expect the Cowboys to kiss the ring. There could be plenty on the line that night in Laramie just like there was in 2022.


Sat., Aug. 31 at Arizona State
Sat., Sept. 7 Idaho
Sat., Sept. 14 BYU
Sat., Sept. 21 at North Texas
Sat., Sept. 28 Air Force *
Sat., Oct. 5 Open
Sat., Oct. 12 San Diego State *
Sat., Oct. 19 at San Jose State *
Sat., Oct. 26 Utah State *
Sat., Nov. 2 at New Mexico *
Sat., Nov. 9 Open
Sat., Nov. 16 at Colorado State *
Sat., Nov. 23 Boise State *
Sat., Nov. 30 at Washington State

University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

During the summer of 2021, counted down the Top 50 football players in University of Wyoming history, presented by Premier Bone & Joint Centers, Worthy of Wyoming.

The rules are simple: What was the player's impact while in Laramie? That means NFL stats, draft status or any other accolade earned outside of UW is irrelevant when it comes to this list.

This isn't a one-man job. This task called for a panel of experts. Joining 7220's Cody Tucker are Robert GagliardiJared NewlandRyan Thorburn, and Kevin McKinney.

We all compiled our own list of 50 and let computer averages do the work. Think BCS -- only we hope this catalog is fairer.

Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter: @7220sports - #Top50UWFB

Gallery Credit:

- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

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