Coming off a dramatic home win over Northern Illinois last Saturday, the Wyoming Cowboys will make their first road trip of the 2016 football season to Lincoln, Neb., this Saturday to face the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The game is scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m., M.T. (11 a.m., C.T.) from Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN2. As with all Cowboy football games, the Cowboy Sports Network radio broadcast will begin one hour prior to kickoff on the 25 affiliate stations of CSN.
The Cowboys will be looking for their third consecutive win, following a win over Northern Illinois, 40-34 in triple overtime last Saturday, and a victory over UNLV, 35-28, to end the 2015 season.
This week’s meeting with Nebraska will be the eighth all-time between the two schools. The last meeting between Wyoming and Nebraska came on Aug. 30, 2013, in Lincoln, Neb.. Wyoming scored first, taking a 7-0 lead in Memorial Stadium. After falling behind 37-21 in the fourth quarter, Wyoming scored the final 13 points of the game to pull to within three at 37-34 with 1:32 to play. The Pokes had a final possession to win the game but were unable to put together one final scoring drive. Nebraska has won the previous seven meetings.
Wyoming’s win over Northern Illinois last Saturday was the longest game in Wyoming football history – four hours and 14 minutes. Due to lightning delays, the game did not conclude until 2:34 a.m. Cowboy quarterback Josh Allen scored the winning touchdown on a spectacular seven-yard scramble into the end zone – a play that would be featured in ESPN’s Top 10 plays.
Allen was named the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his performance. He completed 19 of 29 pass attempts (65.5 percent) for 245 yards, 2 TDs and no interceptions. He also had 10 rushing attempts for 70 yards and one rushing TD. In the second half and overtime, Allen was spectacular completing 77.8 percent of his passes (14 of 18 passing) for 190 yards through the air. The sophomore from Firebaugh, Calif., accounted for 315 yards in total offense, while leading the Pokes to 488 yards of total offense in the victory.
Allen led a balanced Wyoming offensive attack that saw the Cowboys rush for 243 yards and pass for 245 yards. Junior running back Brian Hill ended the night with 125 rushing yards. Senior wide receivers Jake Maulhardt and Tanner Gentry each had 100-yard games receiving, with 106 and 104 yards respectively.
The Wyoming defense played an equal role in the victory. The Cowboy defenders allowed Northern Illinois to convert only 5 of 18 third-down attempts on the night, and came up with the only turnover of the game in the first overtime on a fumble recovery by freshman linebacker Logan Wilson. Wilson made that recovery at the four-yard line in the first overtime, ending a Northern Illinois threat. In the third overtime, the Cowboy defense came up with a huge stop of the NIU offense, giving the ball back to the Cowboys for what would be the eventual game-winning possession.
Among other key stats in the Cowboys’ season-opening win were: Wyoming controlled the ball, possessing it 35 minutes and 39 seconds to NIU’s 24:21; the Cowboys did not commit a turnover, while coming up with a critical NIU turnover in overtime; and UW did not allow a single sack of quarterback Allen.
The Huskers will also enter Saturday’s game with a 1-0 record this season after defeating Mountain West Conference member Fresno State 43-10 last weekend in Lincoln, Neb. The Cornhuskers scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to earn the win.
Nebraska recorded 406 yards of total offense on the night with 292 yards on the ground and 114 through the air. Defensively, the Huskers held the Bulldogs to 276 yards of total offense, giving up only 31 rushing yards. But Fresno State was able to generate 243 passing yards against the Huskers.
Nebraska running back Devine Ozigbo rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry on 17 attempts. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong, Jr. rushed for 42 yards on the night and threw for 108 yards with one touchdown. He was 5-of-10 passing with a long toss of 57 yards. Wide receiver Alonzo Moore had a team-high three catches for 92 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, safety Kieron Williams led the Huskers with 10 tackles. He also added an interception. Cornerback Josh Kalu was credited with seven tackles to go along with a sack and one pass breakup. Cornerback Lamar Jackson added six tackles and a sack. Defensive end Ross Dzuris had two sacks and three tackles for loss for six yards.
Several members of the 2016 Wyoming Cowboys have ties to Nebraska. Four Cowboy players are natives of Nebraska. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan is from Grand Island. Redshirt freshman C.J. Johnson is from Bellevue. Senior Trevor Meader is from Lincoln, and freshman Gavin Rush is a native of Aurora. Rush started at left guard for the Cowboys in his first college game last week. Ghaifan and Johnson also played significant time in Saturday’s season opener. Meader is redshirting this season after suffering a knee injury last spring.
Two Cowboys are sons of former Nebraska football players. Johnson is the son of Clester Johnson, who was a wingback for the Cornhuskers from 1993-95. Wyoming sophomore free safety Andrew Wingard is the son of Dan Wingard, who was a punter from Nebraska from 1983-85.
The Cowboy coaching staff also has direct ties to the Nebraska football program. Cowboy head coach Craig Bohl grew up in Lincoln, Neb., and was a reserve defensive back for the Huskers from 1977 to 1979. He served as a graduate assistant with the Nebraska football program from 1981-83. In 1995, Bohl returned to his alma mater coaching the NU linebackers from 1995 to 1999. During that time, Nebraska captured two national championships in 1995 and ‘97. Bohl was elevated to defensive coordinator at NU from 2000-02 and continued to coach the linebackers those three seasons.
Current Wyoming defensive coordinator Steve Stanard also played at Nebraska from 1986-87. Stanard served as a student assistant coach for his alma mater in 1988, and was a graduate assistant coach from 1989-90.
Wyoming’s newest assistant coach Mike Grant, who coaches the Cowboy wide receivers, played quarterback for the Huskers from 1988-92. He was a recruiting assistant for Nebraska in 199, and was a graduate assistant from 1994-96.