Sept. 20, 2011
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
This Saturday when the Wyoming Cowboys host the Nebraska Cornhuskers, it will bring to an end months of anticipation for a game that Wyoming fans have looked forward to since it was first announced on Dec. 2, 2008. Add to that buildup the fact that both Wyoming and Nebraska bring 3-0 records into Saturday's contest and you have the makings of a special event. The game will kick off at 5:30 p.m., Mountain Time from Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium.
Saturday will mark the first time that Nebraska will play in Laramie. The two schools from bordering states have played five previous times, beginning back in 1934. But each of those previous five games were played in Lincoln, Neb. The two schools have not played each other since 1994. Nebraska has won each of the previous five meetings.
Saturday's game is a sellout. Months ago, it was decided by the UW Athletics Department to add seating to both the north and south ends of Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium for the this game to accommodate as many fans as possible. With the added seating, the stadium's capacity will be increased from its normal capacity of 29,181 to over 32,000.
For those unable to attend Saturday's game, as with all Wyoming Cowboy football games, the Cowboy Sports Network will broadcast the game live on radio beginning with the pregame show one hour before kickoff. The game will also be televised live on VERSUS. For fans with DIRECTV, VERSUS can be found on Channel 603. Fans can also contact their local cable provider for VERSUS in their area.
The Wyoming Cowboys bring a four-game winning streak into this week. That streak dates back to the final game of the 2010 season -- a 44-0 shutout over Colorado State. Wyoming's 3-0 start this season marks the first time since 1996 that a Cowboy football team has begun a season 3-0. The four-game winning streak is the longest in the three years of the Dave Christensen era. It is also the longest since the 2005 season.
Nebraska is currently ranked No. 9 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' polls.
Wyoming and Nebraska will both enter this week's meeting with two of the nation's top-rated offenses. UW is ranked No. 16 in the nation in total offense (492.3 yards per game), No. 20 in the NCAA in rushing offense (226.7 ypg) and No. 36 in passing offense (265.6 ypg). Nebraska comes into this week as one of the nation's top rushing offenses, ranking No. 11 in the country (252.3 yards per game). Both schools are among the nation's leaders in scoring offense. Nebraska is averaging 44.3 points per game to rank No. 13 in the NCAA. Wyoming is averaging 36.0 points per game to rank No. 35.
The two starting quarterbacks, Brett Smith for Wyoming and Taylor Martinez for Nebraska, are also among the nation's leaders. Smith ranks No. 16 in the nation in total offense (310.7 ypg), while Martinez ranks No. 21 (291.3 ypg). Smith is No. 27 in passing yards (265.7 ypg). Martinez is No. 8 in rushing (128.0 ypg).
Defensively, Cowboy senior defensive lineman Josh Biezuns was named Co-Defensive Player of the Week by the Mountain West Conference on Monday, Sept. 19 for his performance in a 28-27 win at Bowling Green. Biezuns forced one fumble, recovered one fumble, had 2.0 sacks for 15 yards and five total tackles against Bowling Green, but Biezuns' biggest play of the day came with only three seconds remaining in the game. Bowling Green had just scored a touchdown to pull within one point at 28-27. On the point-after-touchdown attempt, Biezuns combined with fellow senior defensive lineman Gabe Knapton to break through the middle of the BGSU line, block the PAT and preserve Wyoming's 28-27 road victory.
The Nebraska defense is led by senior defensive tackle Jared Crick. Crick was a 2010 First Team All-America choice of Rivals.com and a Second Team All-America selection by Associated Press. Entering this season, he was a Preseason First Team All-America selection by Athlon, Lindy's, Playboy, Phil Steele and Sporting News.
The last time that Wyoming and Nebraska met on the gridiron was Oct. 1, 1994. The Cowboys came into that game with a 2-2 record under fourth-year head coach Joe Tiller. Nebraska was 4-0 and ranked No. 2 in the nation in the Associated Press poll under head coach Tom Osborne, who was in his 22nd season as head coach of the Huskers. Wyoming led at halftime by a score of 21-14. After Nebraska scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 35-21 lead, the Cowboys fought back, scoring a field goal late in the third quarter and a TD and two-point conversion in the fourth to pull within three points at 32-35 with 9:09 remaining in the game. Wyoming's defense forced a Nebraska punt on its next possession, and with over five and a half minutes to play it looked like the Cowboys' offense would get one more chance to pull off the upset. But it wasn't to be as the Pokes fumbled the punt at their own eight-yard line, Nebraska recovered and one play later scored a touchdown to extend the lead to 10 points, 42-32, which would be the final score. Wyoming's 32 points would prove to be the most scored on Nebraska all season, as the Huskers went on to a perfect 13-0 season and defeat Miami (Fla.) in the Orange Bowl for the National Championship.
The common thread that binds the history of Wyoming Cowboy Football and Nebraska Cornhusker Football together is Bob Devaney. Devaney was head coach at Wyoming from 1957-61. He is still the winningest coach in Wyoming history in terms of winning percentage. Devaney won 75.0 percent of his games at Wyoming, posting a 35-10-5 record in five seasons. He led Wyoming to four conference titles -- two Skyline Conference outright championships in 1958 and `59 and two co-championships in 1960 and `61. His 1958 squad went 8-3 and captured the Sun Bowl Championship. In 1959, the Cowboys compiled a 9-1 record and ended the season ranked No. 16 in the final Associated Press poll. The 1960 Cowboy team posted an 8-2 record, and in 1961 the Pokes were 6-1-2 and concluded the year ranked No. 17 in the final United Press International poll. Devaney took over as head coach at Nebraska in 1962. For the next 11 years, Devaney led the Cornhuskers to eight Big Eight Conference titles, a 101-20-2 (.829) record and back-to-back National Championships in 1970 and `71. After the 1972 season, Devaney retired with a 136-30-7 (.806) record as a head coach, making him the winningest active coach in the nation at the time he retired.