Wyoming Players, Coaches Fully Aware of Scoreless Skid against ‘Dogs
LARAMIE -- It was a recipe for disaster.
Fresno State entered the 2022 regular-season finale on a six-game winning streak, its ticket already punched for the Mountain West title tilt the following Saturday in Boise. Jake Haener was arguably the best quarterback in the west, connecting on 20 touchdown tosses to go along with 2,896 yards passing.
It should've been more. Way more.
The senior signal caller missed four-plus games with an ankle injury. The Bulldogs lost three of those, including an embarrassing setback at UConn.
Offensive weapons, those were plentiful.
Jalen Moreno-Cropper hauled in five touchdown passes and added more than 1,000 yards receiving. Jordan Mims was one of the top running backs in the conference, eclipsing the 1,300-yard mark. He found the end zone 18 times on the ground.
This game was also played inside Valley Children's Stadium in front of more than 40,000 fans.
The visitors, on the other hand, limped into Fresno -- literally and figuratively.
Wyoming also had championship aspirations. Those were dashed in heartbreaking fashion the week prior after defensive end DeVonne Harris scooped up an unthinkable fumble with just over a minute to go in regulation, rumbling to the Boise State 21-yard line. Trailing 20-17, the Cowboys were well within chip-shot range for placekicker John Hoyland.
The coaching staff had other ideas.
Jayden Clemons, making his first-career start under center in place of an injured Andrew Peasley, lofted a throw into double coverage in the back of the end zone on the ensuing snap. JL Skinner, who also snagged an interception on the Cowboys' previous possession, made the easy grab and stepped out of bounds.
The Mountain Division belonged to the Broncos.
To make matters even worse, the roster was decimated. That, Craig Bohl said, is ultimately the reason he decided to go for the win instead of forcing overtime.
The list of injuries was extensive: (WR) Alex Brown, (WR) Will Pelissier, (RB) DQ James, (RB) Dawaiian McNeely, (TE) Treyton Welch and (TE/FB) Parker Christensen. Leading wide receiver Joshua Cobbs also suffered a concussion late in the fourth quarter, per Bohl. The Cowboys' defense didn't have the services of (DT) Cole Godbout, (DT) Jordan Bertagnole, (N) Keonte Glinton and (CB) Jakorey Hawkins.
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Wyoming's head coach admitted there was a team-wide "hangover" after his team was eventually blanked 30-0 that night by the eventual Mountain West champs in the Central Valley.
Peasley used the word "flat."
Linebacker Easton Gibbs admitted postgame that the loss the previous week was too "detrimental" to overcome. The mandatory "24-hour" rule coaches bestow on players -- to celebrate or sulk -- wasn't nearly enough time to get over that one, Gibbs added.
Fast forward 312 days.
The Pokes and unbeaten 'Dogs will meet again this Saturday night. This time, in Laramie. This time, to determine who takes the upper hand in league play and remains atop the conference standings.
Wyoming players and coaches haven't forgotten about the humiliation suffered on that late November night.
Fresno State dished out embarrassment in spades, beginning with a pair of blocked punts, one culminating in a safety and the other one turning into six points eight snaps later.
Peasley and Co. only managed to pick up a grand total of 12 first downs on 13 offensive drives. They entered the red zone just once. That came on the last possession of the night. Running back Titus Swen was eventually dropped for a loss on a 4th-and-3.
"Obviously, I'm a little salty about last year," Peasley said Saturday after the Cowboys knocked off New Mexico 35-26 to move to 4-1 on the season and 1-0 in Mountain West play. "You know, we had a tough loss against Boise and then we kind of all showed up to Fresno not really wanting to play. That was including myself. I don't think we executed at all that game."
Frank Crum isn't just upset about the way his team performed last fall, a 17-0 loss to the Bulldogs in Laramie in 2021 is still fresh in his mind.
"We haven't scored a point," the sixth-year senior offensive lineman said Monday afternoon. "That's unacceptable ... We've laid an egg or been disinterested in the past two meetings with these guys."
Crum, the Cowboys' starting left tackle, was also a redshirt freshman in 2018 when Fresno State rolled to a 27-3 victory.
Wyoming's scoreless streak in this series sits at 11 quarters. During this current four-game skid against Jeff Tedford's Bulldogs, the Pokes have put just 10 points on the scoreboard. Fresno State, 87.
"It was a poor showing in almost all three phases of the game. We got taken to the woodshed," Bohl said about last year's meeting. "... We went into their stadium and they threw us out of the saloon. If you're a competitor like Andrew is, and some of the other players, it left a bad taste in their mouth. We're going to have an opportunity to redeem ourselves."
So, how do the Cowboys not only put points on the board, but potentially upset the No. 24 team in the country?
"We have to have an edge to us,"Peasley said. "We have to be on our stuff this week at practice and prepare well. We have to be a good offense and our defense has to play good, too. They're good. They're a good football team."
Revenge? That goes without saying.
"I think there's a sense of want to and let's get after these cats right away," Crum added. "You know, we don't want to mess around with these guys. I know they're perceived as the top dog in the conference right now, but here's the thing, they have to come to Laramie, Wyoming and come to us. We're going to give them our best shot and I know they're going to do the same. So, I'm really excited for this matchup."
Bohl knows these are the types of games you need to win if you want to hang banners and hoist trophies.
"We've got the makings, I think, of a heck of a football game," he said. "So, our players are excited and our coaches are excited. You know, you get in this time of year, these games are really pivotal. Every conference game is important, but this one has the makings of even more.
"It could really benefit you if you win. If you lose this one, it makes it a little bit tougher if you want to accomplish what we want to accomplish."
Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. Mountain Time and the game will be televised on FOX.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
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- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players