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4-0 Wyoming Cowboys open MWC play Saturday at Air Force

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Posted at 9:55 AM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 11:55:57-04

(Editor's note: UW Athletics release)

LARAMIE, Wyo. - Saturday marks the start of conference play for the Wyoming Cowboys who travel to the Air Force Academy with a 4-0 record. Air Force is 4-1 and 1-1 in the Mountain West Conference. Saturday’s game is scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m., Mountain Time from Falcon Stadium. The game will be broadcast on radio over the Cowboy Sports Network and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

Wyoming is in an exclusive group of 17 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams to remain undefeated this season out of 130 FBS teams.

This year’s Cowboy team is also in a special group of teams in school history. The 2021 Cowboys’ 4-0 start is only the 13th time in 125 seasons of Wyoming Football that a team has begun a season 4-0 or better. It is also the first time in 25 seasons that UW has begun a season 4-0. The last time was in 1996 when the Joe Tiller coached Cowboys went on to start the season 9-0 on way to a 10-2 record, WAC Pacific Division title and a No. 22 national ranking in the final Associated Press and Coaches polls.

The 2021 Wyoming team has also posted the best start in the eight years that head coach Craig Bohl has led the Cowboys. UW’s previous best start under Bohl was a 3-0 start back in 2019. That 2019 team went on to an 8-5 season, including a championship in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.

Wyoming’s offense has established a balanced attack that has proven difficult for opposing defenses. The Cowboys have generated 722 rushing yards (49.0% of the offense) and 750 passing yards (51.0% of the offense) for 1,472 yards of total offense, which is 368.0 yards per game.

UW’s offense has also performed well in key situations, ranking No. 1 in the conference in two key offensive categories -- third-down conversions and scoring points in the red zone. The Wyoming Cowboys are also among the best in the nation in 2021 in both of those key stats, ranking No. 15 in the nation in third-down conversions at 50 percent (28 of 56) and ranking No. 19 in red-zone offense at 94.1 percent (scoring on 16 of 17 red-zone opportunities).

Defensively, the Pokes have been outstanding. Wyoming is No. 1 in the Mountain West and tied for No. 2 in the FBS in defensive touchdowns scored with three defensive TDs already this season.

As you look at Wyoming’s defensive rankings this season, defending opposing offenses’ passing attacks has become a strength for the Cowboys. Wyoming is No. 1 in the Mountain West and No. 10 in the nation in Pass Efficiency Defense. UW also ranks in several other categories that relate to effectively defending the pass. The Pokes are No. 3 in the MW and No. 16 in the country in sacks (averaging 3.25 sacks per game), are No. 20 in the nation in interceptions (6 total) and are No. 30 in pass defense (allowing only 186.5 passing yards per game).

Special teams has also been a consistent contributing factor to Wyoming’s success with sophomore place-kicker John Hoyland and redshirt freshman punter Ralph Fawaz both having outstanding seasons.

Wyoming has also done an outstanding job on both sides of the ball in terms of forcing opponent turnovers on defense and protecting the ball on offense. Wyoming is No. 1 in the Mountain West in turnover margin and No. 11 in the nation. The Cowboy defense has forced eight opponent turnovers, while the Wyoming offense has committed only four turnovers all season.

The 2021 season marks the 23rd season of the Mountain West Conference, and this year’s Wyoming-Air Force contest is the first conference game of the year for the Cowboys. The Falcons have already played two MW games, losing at home to Utah State and winning on the road at New Mexico.

Wyoming is 11-11 (.500) in Mountain West openers. UW is 7-6 (.538) when opening MW play at home, and is 4-5 (.444) when opening on the road. The Cowboys have won 5 of their last 8 MW openers and 4 of 7 in the Craig Bohl era.

This year’s MW opener will mark the ninth time in the 23 seasons of the MW that the Cowboys have opened Mountain West Conference play against Air Force -- more than any other MW opponent.

The Cowboys’ record vs. Air Force in their previous eight Mountain West openers stands at 4-4 (.500). Oddly enough the advantage has gone to the road team in the eight previous MW openers between the Cowboys and Falcons. Wyoming is 3-1 in Mountain West openers played at the Air Force Academy, and Air Force is 3-1 in MW openers played in Laramie.

Cowboy quarterback Sean Chambers has had an outstanding return in 2021. With Wyoming’s most recent win at UConn two weeks ago, Chambers record as Wyoming’s starting quarterback now stands at 13-3. He was a perfect 3-0 in games he started in 2018, was 6-2 as a starter in 2019, went 0-1 in his lone game of 2020 after being injured on the third play of the season opener and he is 4-0 in 2021.

He also led Wyoming on two game-winning scoring drives this season. Both game-winning drives came in the final two minutes of victories over Montana State and Northern Illinois.