Tuck’s Takes: Wyoming, This is Your Wake-Up Call
LARAMIE -- We've all seen this movie before.
FCS team rides into Laramie and appears to belong. Wyoming obliges, sleepwalking throughout until it's time to get serious.
Luckily for Craig Bohl's Cowboys, that has typically worked out. He is now 9-1 all-time in these meetings, the lone loss coming to North Dakota back in 2015, his second season on the sidelines.
Wyoming, which jumped out to a 21-7 lead, didn't ever face a legit scare in this one, though it took an illegal-formation penalty to keep this from being a seven-point game with roughly a minute to go in regulation.
Still, it did little to instill any confidence that this year will be different, despite that upset win over Texas Tech last Saturday night.
It wasn't a loss in the standings, but it certainly feels like one.
This roster isn't hiding from that fact, either.
Cole Godbout, who finished with six tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss, was blunt in his assessment of this lackluster 31-17 victory over Portland State in front of 21,000-plus inside War Memorial Stadium.
"We can play with the big dogs and then we tend to play down to our opponents' level, which is frustrating," the super senior said, adding it's a "mental game" against FCS opponents. "... I don't know what it is. We always just play down. This is my sixth year and any team, like it doesn't matter the players, we don't take them to the woodshed as coach (Craig) Bohl would say. We just like to, you know, keep it entertaining, I guess. We have to fix some things up."
Godbout was here when Idaho almost stunned the Pokes in 2019. Wyoming opened that season with a stunner over visiting Missouri. Two years later, it took a last-minute touchdown toss from Sean Chambers to Treyton Welch to dispatch Montana State.
Northern Colorado made things uncomfortable last September. Wyoming led just 6-0 at half.
Bohl has been on the other side of this coin.
He coached at North Dakota State, an FCS program, for 11 seasons before coming to Laramie in the winter of 2014.
While in Fargo, Bohl's teams beat Ball State, Central Michigan, Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State and Kansas State. All of those victories came on the road.
You think he warned his guys before this one?
"I did. I don't know if they listened," Bohl said. "... This is their opportunity to play on a different stage."
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Ayir Asante spent the last four seasons on that stage.
During the wide receiver's time at Holy Cross, the Crusaders pulled off a pair of FBS upsets of their own, knocking off UConn in 2021 and Buffalo last September. In fact, Asante's former team gave Boston College fits today in Chestnut Hill, falling 31-28.
He also sent out a warning to this roster: This game means more to the little guy.
"Coming from the other side, it's a big game," said Asante, who snagged two touchdown passes against the Vikings, including a 64-yarder in the first quarter. "You know, you think about that all summer. You think about it when you commit. They schedule those games years ahead, so you think about this for a long time."
Bohl was asked if he liked the mindset of his team during this one. He met that with a resounding 'no."
Asante agreed, adding the score didn't reflect how this one was supposed to go.
"I think we might have lacked a little bit of focus," he said. "Sometimes we did fall into that FBS-versus-FCS opponent type of thing where we're expecting things to just happen and, you know, expecting the other team to lay down. They're never going to do that, especially in a game like this."
Portland State looked anything but like a team that suffered an embarrassing 81-7 setback last Saturday at Oregon. Bruce Barnum's team gave up 729 yards of total offense in that one while playing 22 freshmen, including seven that were in high school at this time a year ago.
Today, led by quarterback Dante Chachere, the visitors outscored the Cowboys in the second and fourth quarter, while rolling up 344 yards of offense. They forced Wyoming into a pair of turnovers -- an early Sam Scott fumble and an Andrew Peasley interception -- and limited the Pokes to just 4.4 yards per carry on 39 rushing attempts.
One team played like it mattered. The other, a 28-point favorite, according to the oddsmakers, sat its starting QB in the fourth quarter, thinking this game was already in the bag.
"I can tell you, me, as a head coach, typically, the glass is half empty," Bohl said. "So, that's my perspective. I'm not one of these rose-colored-glasses-on guys. We have to play better and I have to coach better."
This better have served as a wake-up call for this "mature" roster. If not, things could get ugly in Austin next Saturday night.
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