MW Division Leaders Meet in Laramie on Saturday


On Saturday, the Wyoming Cowboys, tied for the lead in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference, will host the San Diego State Aztecs, who have clinched the West Division of the MW.  Saturday’s match-up of Wyoming and San Diego State will feature the No. 1 ranked scoring offense in the Mountain West against the No. 1 scoring defense.  Wyoming leads the league and ranks No. 17 in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 38.9 points per game.  San Diego State leads the league and ranks No. 7 in the nation in scoring defense, allowing opponents only 15.2 points per game.
    
Saturday’s game is scheduled to kick off at 1:30 p.m., M.T.  and tickets are still available.  Fans may purchase tickets online at GoWyo.com/tickets, by emailing tickets@uwyo.edu, by calling (307) 766-7220 or by stopping by the UW Athletics Ticket Office on the west side of the Arena-Auditorium during the week or purchasing them on the east side of War Memorial Stadium on game day.
     
The Cowboys enter the game 7-3 overall and 5-1 in the MW and are tied with Boise State and New Mexico for the Mountain Division lead.  The Aztecs are 9-1 and 6-0 in the MW and have already earned a spot in the 2016 MW Championship Game.
    
Wyoming will face its second Top 25 ranked opponent of 2016 in San Diego State.  Wyoming is 1-0 this season versus Top 25 ranked teams having defeated then No. 13 ranked Boise State, 30-28, in Laramie on Oct. 29.  SDSU broke into the Top 25 this week at No. 24 in the Associated Press poll and No. 25 in the Amway Coaches poll. 
    
SDSU and Wyoming will be playing for the 36th time in history.  It has been an extremely close series with the Cowboys holding a one-game advantage with 18 wins to 17 wins for San Diego State.  The Aztecs have won the last two meetings in 2015 (38-3) and in 2012 (42-28).  The last 10 games between the two longtime conference opponents have been split evenly at five wins each.
    
Wyoming and San Diego State share four common opponents this season.  Both UW and SDSU defeated Northern Illinois, Nevada and Utah State.  The Aztecs also defeated UNLV, while Wyoming fell to the Rebels 66-69 in triple overtime last Saturday.
    
Fans will have an opportunity to watch two of the nation’s premier running backs on Saturday.  Wyoming’s Brian Hill and SDSU’s Donnel Pumphrey are ranked No. 3 and No. 1 in the nation in total rushing yards entering this week.  Hill ranks No. 3 in the nation in total rushing yards, with 1,417 yards for the 2016 season.  Pumphrey is No. 1 in the nation in total rushing yards (1,779).
     
Hill has rushed for 1,417 yards this season.  He is 214 yards away from his own single-season school record of 1,631 yards that he set last season.  Hill has rushed for 3,844 career yards.  He ranks No. 3 in MW history in career rushing yards.
     
Pumphrey has 6,051 career rushing yards.  He ranks No. 1 in Mountain West history, and is 346 yards away from tying the NCAA record for career rushing yards of 6,397 set by Ron Dayne of Wisconsin.
    
This season, Hill’s 1,000-yard season marks only the 12th time in school history that a Cowboy has rushed for 1,000 yards.
    
A more balanced offense was something the Wyoming Cowboys were striving for entering the 2016 season, and through 10 games the Cowboy Offense couldn’t be much more balanced.  Wyoming is averaging 220.9 yards rushing and 222.2 yards passing per game for 443.1 yards of total offense per game.
     
The Wyoming Cowboys still control their own destiny in terms of capturing first place in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference and earning a spot in the 2016 Mountain West Championship Game.  There are various scenarios for Wyoming to win the Mountain Division.  The simplest of those scenarios is Wyoming will capture the Mountain Division if it wins its remaining two regular-season games versus San Diego State on Saturday and at New Mexico on Saturday, Nov. 26.  
    
The Cowboys don’t, however, have to win both of their remaining games to win the division, depending on what Boise State and New Mexico do in the final two weeks of the regular season.
     
The Wyoming Cowboys have won their last six consecutive home games and captured seven of their last eight home games.  
     
The last time the Cowboys won six consecutive home games began midway in the 2006 season through midway into the 2007 season.
     
The last time the Cowboys won seven consecutive home games were the last two home games of the 1997 season and first five home games of the ‘98 season.
    
Current Wyoming senior middle linebacker Lucas Wacha had a personal best 16 tackles versus UNLV last Saturday, to move into 10th place on the Wyoming career tackle list.  Wacha enters this week with 317 career tackles.  Among all active Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players, he currently ranks No. 9 in career tackles.  He is averaging 8.1 tackles per game this season to rank No. 10 in the Mountain West and No. 72 in the nation.  
   
Current Wyoming sophomore free safety Andrew Wingard enters this week with 99 tackles for the 2016 season.  As a true freshman in 2015, Wingard made 122 tackles.  That was the 15th best single-season total in school history, and made him the first freshman in Wyoming history to record 100 tackles in a single season.  He now has a chance to become only the 12th player in school history to have 100 tackles in multiple seasons as a Cowboy.  Those other 11 Cowboys to record multiple 100-tackle seasons include John Salley, FS, 1980, ’81 and ‘82 and Jim Talich, LB, 1995, ’96 and ‘97, who are the only two Cowboys to accomplish that in three different seasons.  The other nine to post two 100-tackle seasons are: Brian Brown, LB, 1996 and ‘97; Al Duyn, S, 1972 and ‘73; Ken Fantetti, LB, 1977 and ‘78; Tyler Gottschalk, LB, 2002 and ‘03; Brian Hendricks, LB, 2009 and ‘11; Bruce Mowry, LB, 1983 and ‘84; Chris Prosinski, FS, 2009 and ‘10; Mike Schenbeck, LB, 1986 and ‘87; and Galand Thaxton, LB, 1986 and ‘87.
    
Wingard leads the Mountain West in tackles this season and ranks No. 14 in the nation, averaging 9.9 tackles per game.  Among all active FBS players, he ranks No. 1 in the nation in career tackles per game, averaging 10.05 for his career, and he ranks No. 1 in the nation in solo tackles per game, averaging 6.36 for his career.  His sophomore running mate at safety, Marcus Epps, ranks No. 14 among active FBS players in career tackles (7.76 per game) and ranks No. 5 in career solo tackles (5.33 per game). 
     
Saturday will mark the final regular-season home game for a great group of seniors, who have helped bring Cowboy Football back to contention in the Mountain West Conference.  The seniors will be recognized on the field prior to the start of the game.
   
The Wyoming-San Diego State game will be televised live on CBS College Sports Network, and will be broadcast live on radio over the 25 affiliate stations of the Cowboy Sports Network.  The radio broadcast will begin one hour prior to kick off.