Gear up for gameday: Utah State Edition
LOGAN, Utah -- This game just meant more.
Six days after eight members of the University of Wyoming cross country team were killed by a drunk driver on HWY 287 south of Laramie, Vic Koenning's Cowboys dedicated their 2001 performance in Logan to their fallen friends and classmates.
UW quarterback Casey Bramlet connected on 22-of-38 passes for 422 yards and added two touchdown passes, and placekicker JD Wallum booted through five field goals as the Cowboys outlasted Utah State 43-42 on a memorable Saturday night inside what was then known as Romney Stadium.
"The pain will always be there, but this helps a lot," Bramlet told the Associated Press. "We were playing for them."
Rusty Burns, UW's offensive coordinator that night in Logan, said it was OK for the Cowboys to play for their community and the tragedy that took place the previous Sunday.
"I hadn't used that in a way of motivation but Rusty did," Koenning told reporters. "If they wanted to make a statement about these guys and their families, well that's a pretty strong statement."
Bramlet admitted early that week football was the furthest thing from the teams' mind while preparing for the Aggies.
The victory certainly didn't come easy.
With 25 seconds remaining, USU quarterback Jose Fuentes hit Chris Stallworth in the end zone from 18 yards out for his fourth touchdown pass of the night.
The celebration, though raucous for a brief moment, was short lived.
The Aggies were hit with 15-yard penalty when Stallworth removed his helmet on the field after the play. USU placekicker Dane Kidman would need to hit a 35-yard point-after attempt to send this one to overtime.
It didn't happen.
Wyoming wide receiver Scottie Vines leapt into the air and batted away the kick, sending the visiting bench into an excessive celebration of its own.
Still, despite the last-second win, Vines and his teammates kept things in perspective.
"It was hard getting ready for the game, with eight players dying, but we knew we had to come out and win for them," Vines said.
Saturday marks the 71st meeting between these two programs. From 1978 to that night in 2001, the Pokes and Aggies didn't meet on a football field. Now, the neighbors battle for Jim Bridger's Rifle and are starting to manufacture a serious rivalry that is circled on the calendar every fall.
It's not quite there yet, but if Saturday night's game is anything like that one two decades ago, this could be a special game for years to come.
MORE UW FOOTBALL NEWS:
* 3 keys to beating the Aggies
* Cowboys in the NFL: Week 10
* WATCH: Josh Allen's emotional reaction to hospital dedication
* Wyoming's Chad Muma receives invite to Senior Bowl
* Pokes, Aggies set to battle for Jim Bridger's Rifle
* Around the Mtn: Bowl slots filing up fast
* Why doesn't Wyoming utilize the transfer portal more?
* Fawaz quickly becoming one of the top punters in the MW
* UW's Wyatt Wieland gets first catch 'under his belt'
* Wyoming football: News and notes
* Quick takes: Wasted opportunities piling up for Pokes
Here is all you need to know -- and the links -- for Saturday's tilt at Maverik Stadium:
WHO: Wyoming (5-5, 1-5) at Utah State (8-2, 5-1)
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. MST
WEATHER: High of 43, low of 21, partly cloudy, winds at 5 mph
WHERE: Maverik Stadium, Logan, Utah
TV: CBS Sports Network
RADIO: Cowboy Sports Network
STREAMING: CBS Sports Network
TICKETS: USU Ticket Office
BOX SCORE: ESPN
ROSTERS: Wyoming / Utah State
BETMGM ODDS: Wyoming +5.5, O/U 52.5 (Could be subject to change)
HISTORY: Utah State leads the all-time series 40-26-4
HEAD COACHES: Craig Bohl / Blake Anderson
LOOK: Pokes' unis through the years