Cowboys Travel to Fresno to Face Bulldogs on Saturday

Oct. 28, 2014


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The Wyoming Cowboys return to the road this week, traveling to Fresno, Calif., to face the Fresno State Bulldogs on Saturday in a game to kick off at 8:45 p.m., Mountain Time (7:45 p.m., Pacific). Both the Cowboys and Bulldogs enter the game with identical 3-5 overall records. Wyoming is 1-3 in Mountain West Conference play this season. Fresno State is 2-2 in conference play. Saturday's game will be televised live on ESPN2. The game will also be broadcast on radio over the 26 affiliates of the Cowboy Sports Network, beginning with the pregame show one hour before kickoff.

Wyoming's overall series with Fresno State is one of the closest in school history. The Pokes trail the overall series by one game, with four wins in the series to the Bulldogs' five wins. FS has captured the last two meetings in 2012 and 2013 since becoming members of the Mountain West. Wyoming's most recent win in the series came in 2009, defeating the Bulldogs 35-28 in double overtime in the 2009 New Mexico Bowl. Fresno State was a member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) at the time. The first six meetings between the two schools were played as members of the WAC, with the two teams splitting those six WAC contests between 1992-97.

UW will be looking to break a four-game losing streak this season when they travel to Fresno this week. The Pokes are also looking for their first conference road win since Sept. 21, 2013, when they defeated Air Force 56-23 in Colorado Springs.

Fresno State is 2-1 at home this season, losing its home opener to Nebraska 55-19 before defeating Southern Utah (56-16) and San Diego State (24-13). The Bulldogs are currently on a two-game losing streak of their own, dropping back-to-back road games at UNLV (30-27 in overtime) and at Boise State (37-27).

Several Cowboys made moves up Wyoming career charts last week. Junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough recorded 1.0 tackle for a loss against Colorado State on Oct. 25 to move past former Cowboy great Ward Dobbs into fourth place on the Wyoming career tackle for a loss list. Yarbrough now has 24.5 TFLs for his career through his first three seasons. Senior wide receiver Dominic Rufran caught six passes for 52 yards against Colorado State to improve his career total to 191 career receptions and pass former Cowboy and current San Diego Charger Malcom Floyd for the No. 5 spot on Wyoming career reception list. Floyd caught 186 passes in his career from 2000-03. Another Cowboy senior receiver reached a career milestone versus Colorado State. Jalen Claiborne caught his 13th career touchdown pass versus the Rams to move into a tie for 10th place on the UW career chart. Claiborne is now tied with Ryan McGuffey, who also caught 13 career TD passes from 2000-03.

Injuries and illness have hit the Wyoming Cowboys hard this season. Among the Cowboys who have been lost include: starting free safety and team captain Darrenn White (torn ACL); leading tackler, linebacker Mark Nzeocha (torn ACL); leading rusher, junior Shaun Wick (broken hand); backup running back, redshirt sophomore D.J. May (torn ACL); and two starting offensive linemen, junior Jake Jones and senior Connor Rains, both to appendectomies. Jones and Rains have since returned to the lineup, but White, Nzeocha and May are all lost for the season. Wick is out for an estimated four weeks.

One of the bright spots for the Cowboys in last week's loss at Colorado State was the play of true freshman running back Brian Hill. In the first series of Wyoming's game at Colorado State, Wick suffered a broken hand. That put the load of the Cowboy rushing attack on the shoulders of Hill. The 6-1, 204-pound freshman from Belleville, Ill., responded in impressive fashion, carrying the ball 28 times for 121 yards and two touchdowns. It was the first 100-yard rushing game of his career, and his two TD runs were the first of his career. He also averaged a strong 4.3 yards per carry. His 28 carries were the most by a Cowboy this season. Wick carried 24 times versus Hawai'i.

Senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard posted a number of career bests in the Cowboys' game at CSU. Kirkegaard recorded his first career 300-yard passing game. He also set personal bests for: most passing yards (335); total offense (332); pass completions (24); pass attempts (38); and tied a career high in touchdown passes (2).

Wyoming's receiving corps enjoyed its most balanced effort of the season against Colorado State. Four Cowboys had 50 or more yards receiving and seven different Cowboys caught passes. Sophomore Tanner Gentry led the Cowboys with six receptions for a career best 96 yards and one touchdown. Senior Rufran caught six passes for 52 yards. Senior Claiborne caught five passes for 88 yards and one TD. Sophomore Jake Maulhardt tied a career high with three receptions for a career high 57 yards, and he also recorded his career long reception, with a 46-yard catch. The 24 combined receptions and 335 combined yards by the receiving corps were both season highs, and the two receiving touchdowns (one each by Gentry and Claiborne) tied a season best for the Pokes.

Fresno State will be starting redshirt freshman quarterback Zack Greenlee for the first time in his career on Saturday. Greenlee has played in only one game this season on Sept. 20 against Southern Utah. He completed 4 of 7 passes for 109 yards and one TD. He was a highly-touted high school quarterback at Lincoln High School in Stockton, Calif.

The Bulldog defense is led by MW Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Derron Smith at safety. Smith has 58 tackles on the season, second best on the Fresno State team and good for 16th in the league. He has also recovered two fumbles and broken up four passes.

Next week, Wyoming will host Utah State in a Friday night game, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. That game will also be televised on ESPN2.