Friday Night, Wyoming Hosts Utah State in Important Mountain West Matchup

Nov. 4, 2014


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This Friday night, the Wyoming Cowboys and Utah State Aggies will face off in an important Mountain West Conference matchup from Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium. It is rare that Wyoming plays a weeknight game. In fact the last time the Cowboys hosted a weeknight game was Sept. 6, 2001, when Texas A&M visited Laramie on a Thursday night. Wyoming enters this week with a 4-5 overall record and are 2-3 in conference play. Utah State is 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the Mountain West.Tickets remain available for Friday's game. Fans may order tickets online at the link above or by calling 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261).

While the Cowboys will be playing in their 14th weeknight game since 1988, it will be only the third time that the Pokes have played a weeknight home game. In addition to this week's game and the 2001 home game versus Texas A&M, the only other time UW has hosted a weeknight game was back on Thursday, Sept. 1, 1988, when the Cowboys defeated BYU, 24-14, in the first night game in War Memorial Stadium history.

This year's meeting in the Wyoming-Utah State series will be the 65th in history. The series dates back to 1903. It is the fifth longest series for the Cowboys. The only longer series for UW are versus Colorado State (106 games), Utah (83), BYU (77) and New Mexico (66). Wyoming trails in the series versus USU, with 24 wins to Utah State's 36. There have been four ties.

In 2013, a new tradition was incorporated into this century-old rivalry when the Wyoming Cowboys and Utah State Aggies introduced a new "Bridger's Battle" tradition to the football series. As part of the new tradition, a traveling "Bridger Rifle" will be awarded to the winner each year. The rifle is a .50-caliber Rocky Mountain Hawken rifle that was popular among mountain men of the 1800s, and is widely-considered to be the rifle carried by the legendary Jim Bridger. "Bridger's Battle" was chosen as the name for the new series due to Bridger's ties to the Wyoming-Utah region. The score from each year's contest will be recorded on the maple stock of the new "Bridger Rifle".

UW and USU have played three common opponents to date. Wyoming defeated Air Force,17-13, in Laramie. Utah State also beat the Falcons at home, 34-16. Both teams lost on the road at Colorado State. The Pokes lost to CSU, 31-45, while the Aggies lost, 13-16. Wyoming lost at Hawai'i, 28-38. Utah State defeated Hawai'i on the island, 35-14.

The Cowboys are 3-1 in home games this season. Utah State is 2-3 on the road in 2014. Wyoming broke a four-game losing streak last week when they traveled to Fresno State and defeated the Bulldogs by a score of 45-17. With the win over Fresno State, the Pokes' also notched their first conference road win of the season. They became the first conference team to win at Fresno State in the past two seasons.

Wyoming freshman running back Brian Hill earned a number of honors this past week for his outstanding performance in Wyoming's 45-17 road win at Fresno State last Saturday. Hill was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation National Offensive Player of the Week. This is the 11th year that the Walter Camp Football Foundation honors one offensive and one defensive player as its national Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players of the week during the regular season. Recipients are selected by a panel of national media members and administered by the Foundation.

Hill, a true freshman running back from Belleville, Ill., accounted for 387 all-purpose yards in leading Wyoming to the road win. Hill rushed for 281 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns, averaging 12.2 yards per carry. He also caught three passes for 106 yards.

Hill became only the fifth player in NCAA history to rush for at least 200 yards and have at least 100 yards receiving in a single game. His 387 all-purpose yards is the best single-game performance in the nation this season, and set a new University of Wyoming single-game record and a Mountain West Conference single-game record. His 281 rushing yards is the second best single-game performance in the nation this season, and is the second best single-game performance in Wyoming school history. Hill had a 32-yard TD run in the first quarter. He added a 66-yard TD gallop in the second quarter and had a career-long 89-yard run against the Bulldogs. Hill is the first Wyoming player to earn Walter Camp National Player of the Week honors since the Player of the Week awards were established in 2004.

Colby Kirkegaard has played some of his best football in the Wyoming Cowboys' last two games at Colorado State on Oct. 25 and at Fresno State on Nov. 1. Over the past two weeks, Kirkegaard recorded his first two career 300-yard passing games -- 335 at CSU and 320 at FSU. The senior has completed 43 of 68 (63.2 percent) passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions the past two games. He guided Wyoming to a season high 694 yards of total offense at Fresno State and has helped Wyoming post its two highest point totals of the season -- 31 at CSU and 45 at Fresno State.

Wyoming's 694 yards of total offense vs. Fresno State ranks as the 19th best single-game total in the nation in 2014. It also ranks No. 4 in Wyoming school history.

The Cowboy defense has created some offense of its own this season. In two consecutive weeks at Hawai'i on Oct. 11 and versus San Jose State on Oct. 18, the Wyoming defense converted a turnover into an immediate touchdown. At Hawai'i, senior linebacker Mark Nzeocha forced a fumble when sacking the Hawai'i quarterback and fellow senior linebacker Devyn Harris picked up the loose ball and returned it 78 yards to give Wyoming a 14-0 lead. Against San Jose State, senior cornerback Blair Burns ripped the ball loose from a Spartan running back and took the forced fumble 63 yards for the score to tie the game at 10-10. At Fresno State on Nov. 1, Cowboy cornerback Tyran Finley intercepted two passes in the fourth quarter that led to a Cowboy touchdown and a field goal.

This Friday's game will be televised on ESPN2 and will be broadcast on radio over the 26 affiliate stations of the Cowboy Sports Network. The radio broadcast begins one hour before kickoff.