Three stars of the game
LARAMIE -- Wow, so many to choose from in the Cowboys' dominating 31-7 win over Hawaii Friday night inside War Memorial Stadium.
Wyoming claimed the Paniolo Trophy for the 15th time in 25 meetings with the Rainbow Warriors. The team from the islands hasn't won in Laramie since 1991.
That was mostly due to the ground-and-pound of the home team's offense and a suffocating defense by Craig Bohl's bunch.
This wasn't easy, but let's find the "big three."
1st star: Xazavian Valladay
OK, maybe the first star wasn't that difficult of a decision. The Cowboys' junior running back rushed for a game-high 163 yards on 32 carries. He also scored a pair of touchdowns and caught two passes for 32 yards. This was Valladay's ninth career 100-yard game at UW. When he does that, typically, good things happen. Wyoming is 7-2 overall when the Illinois product hits the century mark. The two losses both came last season in back-to-back games against Boise State and Utah State.
"Man, it makes life really easy," UW quarterback Levi Williams said about having a potent rushing attack. "We have two really good, solid running backs back there. They took the load today."
"X has got some really unique ability to plant his foot, be elusive and keep on spinning," he said. "He's got great balance."
2nd star: Charles Hicks
His good friends call him "Chuck." I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you did, too. Friday, the Pokes' outside linebacker racked up four tackles, a pair of sacks and two tackles for loss. Early in the fourth quarter, Cassh Maulia's replacement snagged an interception and ran it back 47 yards, deep inside Hawaii territory. Four plays later, Valladay was in the end zone and the Pokes were up, 24-7.
"He certainly did," Bohl said when asked if Hicks "grew up" tonight. "He had a good -- whatever fall camp we had. Tonight, he played really well. It's good to see him come up with some big plays tonight.
3rd star: UW's offensive line
This is where the selection gets tough. Wyoming's secondary could've easily earned this honor. Last week in Reno, that group was torched by Carson Strong to the tune of 420 yards passing and four touchdowns. Friday, Chevan Cordeiro amassed just 106 yards through the air and finished with a QB rating of 10.1. They get the honorable mention. It's the big five up front that did the most damage in the win over Hawaii. Keegan Cryder, Eric Abojei, Logan Harris, Frank Crum, Rudy Stofer and others, owned the line of scrimmage. The Cowboys rushed for 281 yards on 59 carries. They also allowed just one sack.
"We all wanted to make a statement tonight," Valladay said when asked if the offensive line was "grumpy" this week after a pour showing at Nevada in Week 1. "We all knew that was not our best performance and we didn't put our best foot forward last week. Coming into this game, we just had to make a statement. No matter what adversity we faced, we have to go out and be 1-0 today."