Gear Up For Game Day: Hawaii
LARAMIE -- As always, I love to utilize this space each week during the season to not only give you the important info -- game time, TV channel, betting lines, etc. -- but also drop a bit of randomness on your plate.
The Ultimate prize is no longer in reach.
Wyoming's championship drought on the football field will eclipse three decades after a 34-14 loss to UNLV inside Allegiant Stadium last Friday night
Hard to believe.
I was 10 years old the last time the Cowboys sat atop the conference standings at season's end. The year was 1993. That Western Athletic Conference title was also shared. Fresno State and BYU also got a piece of the pie thanks to a missed field goal in soggy Albuquerque and thorough 41-21 beating at home courtesy of Border War rival Colorado State and its first-year head coach Sonny Lubick.
So, what's left to play for over the final two weeks of the season?
Frank Crum says, plenty.
"We can achieve what is still possible and that is to be a regular season 8-4. That's a pretty dang good Wyoming team in my book," Wyoming's left tackle said. "That's not what we're striving for, but that's where we're at. That's what we can potentially accomplish. So, that's where my thinking goes."
The last time Craig Bohl's Pokes won that many regular-season games came back in 2016. That's also the last time this program played for a Mountain West crown.
Crum said this team can also bury a six-game road skid with a win at Nevada in the finale and claim a ninth victory in the postseason. Wyoming has not won nine games in a year since 1996. There were 10 of those that season, including a trip to the inaugural WAC Championship in Las Vegas.
A 28-25 overtime loss to rival BYU, the sixth-ranked team in the nation, cost Joe Tiller and Co. a shot at a bowl game.
There were just 18 of those coveted games back in those days.
It still feels too soon to talk about that loss and result, huh?
Bohl's 'Boys preach 1-0. That starts today against visiting Hawaii. And wouldn't you know it, the Rainbow Warriors are playing their best football after consecutive victories over Nevada and frontrunning Air Force.
Hawaii has averaged 27 points per game during this stretch. It has also forced six turnovers.
The run-and-shoot offense is beginning to click.
More importantly, what Wyoming team will we see inside War Memorial Stadium? The one that took down Texas Tech and Fresno State, or the one that has dropped all four games away from home, each performance seemingly more puzzling?
One thing is for certain -- it will be emotional.
Crum is playing his final game in his hometown. Andrew Peasley, Cole Godbout, Wyatt Wieland, Treyton Welch and many, many others will say goodbye to the faithful, too. Despite having a year of eligibility remaining, middle linebacker Easton Gibbs is hanging it up, hoping for a long career ahead in pro football. Same can be said for Casper native Jordan Bertagnole.
There could be some surprises, too, though Bohl said this week it's not mandatory to make that ultimate decision just yet.
Think about what these guys have been through during their time here.
Expectations have been sky high. They've been in death valley, too. Since 2018, the program has appeared in three bowl games. Number four should be announced after that trip to Reno. These guys have hoisted the Bronze Boot five times. CSU won the 2020 rivalry tilt inside an empty Canvas Stadium.
That season a worldwide pandemic quickly spread around the globe. Would college football get the axe as businesses closed and hospitals filled to capacity? In the beginning, yes. But because of the dedication of these players, coaches, administration and the conference, they forged on.
These guys had giant Q-tips jammed into their brains multiple times per week. If someone was exposed to the coronavirus, they had to sit, alone. Contact tracing became common vernacular. There was no going out on the town, spending time with friends or going home to see the family.
If that happened, quarantine followed.
Truly think about that time and what this group went through. No one died, thank God, but it's still a surreal memory. Hopefully one that keeps getting more and more distant.
"Going through adversity, I think, creates really strong bonds," Crum said. "COVID, and all the things that came with that, you build strong bonds, because for two years we were basically all we had. We couldn't even go home. We could only hang out with each other. So, those bonds grew tremendously. I'm sure more than any other team possibly could have."
Crum knows today will be a tough one.
He's already thinking about that feeling of sliding that brown jersey over his head for the final time in this place.
"I think those emotions will probably come out," he said. "You know, I'm going to have to set those aside for game time, but before and after, I think they're very real things. I think it'll be, you know, an accomplishment, but also a bittersweet kind of thing."
It always is.
These guys have truly been a joy to cover.
They didn't always win. Sometimes it was beyond maddening to watch such talent not be able to put it all together. But, in the end, these are just good people. All of them. I don't have a single complaint, seriously.
I'll miss my chats with Crum. He is the real article.
I'll always be amazed by the growth of Gibbs. This is a guy who was far from comfortable in front of a microphone as a freshman. Now, he commands a room and brings the humor, too.
I'll miss the complexity of Peasley. He keeps you at arm's length, but he's genuine. It's not hard at all to see why he fit in so quickly after transferring in from a rival school.
Those are just a few -- very few -- examples. I could give you a story about each and everyone of these men. They'd all be recalled fondly, too.
Congratulations on a great career, fellas. Thank you for sharing your stories and giving us memories that will last a lifetime. On a personal note, thank you for your sacrifice in 2020. Without you, I don't have a job. Secondly, without Wyoming football in the fall, I'm not sure I even want to know what that world looks like.
You didn't let that happen.
Thank you. Truly.
MORE UW FOOTBALL NEWS VIA 7220SPORTS:
Here is all you need to know -- and the links -- for today's tilt:
WHO: Hawaii (4-7, 2-4) at Wyoming (6-4, 3-3)
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 18 at 12 p.m. MST
WEATHER: High of 56, low 32, winds at 10-15 mph
WHERE: War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, Wyo. (29,181 capacity)
STREAMING: Spectrum Hawaii PPV
TV: Spectrum Hawaii PPV
RADIO: Cowboy Sports Network
TICKETS: Wyoming Ticket office
BOX SCORE: ESPN
ROSTERS: Wyoming / Hawaii
HISTORY: Wyoming leads the all-time series 16-11
ODDS: Wyoming (-6.5)
HEAD COACHES: Craig Bohl / Timmy Chang
LOOK: Pokes' unis through the years