NCAAF Week 1 - Wyoming Looks To Lasso WSU (Sept 1)
by Fairway JayWyoming won its season opener last week 29-7 while completing shutting down an awful New Mexico State Aggies offense. A 449-135 yard edge including 312 rushing yards for the Cowboys was a solid start on the road. Most of NMST yards came on the final drive against backups. The Cowboys return home to the 7,000 foot altitude in Laramie looking to lasso a bigger cat in NCAAF Week 1 betting.
Wyoming lost their QB Josh Allen to the NFL, but fifth year coach Craig Bohl has put his fingerprint on this program and the Cowboys return 17 starters and are a well-coached and prepared team. They look like they will return to their pound-n-ground success of two years ago, and strut a strong stop unit again this season. Wyoming has three or four NFL caliber players on their defense led by senior DE Carl Granderson.
The Cowboys have the advantage at the line of scrimmage in this contest against a Power 5 program, as Washington State is starting a number of new players along the line on both sides of the ball and just 10 starters return from a 9-win team. The Cowboys had one of the most improved defenses in the country last season, allowing just 17.5 points per game after allowing more than 30 PPG the previous five seasons. This year they will again be a strong stop unit and one of the best in the Mountain West. The first tough test is Saturday against the Air Raid offense of Washington State, which will drop off considerably after featuring the nation’s No. 2 passing attack last season at 366 yards per game.
Washington State has increased its win total the past three years from 7 to 8 to 9 last season. Head coach Mike Leach turned around the fortunes in Pullman after going 7-20 SU his first three seasons at Washington State, and his Cougars are 19-8 SU the last three seasons in Pac-12 play. But this year looks like a downer with many personnel changes and lack of experience.
The changes start at quarterback, where East Carolina transfer Gardner Minshew is expected to start with three other QB’s contending for the job. Washington State allowed 44 sacks last season, one of the very worst in college football, and Wyoming can really pressure the QB and led the nation in takeaways last season. The Cougars points-per-game defense has improved each of the past four seasons and did lead the Pac-12 in turnovers gained (28) last season, which makes them attractive in NCAAF Week 1 plays. WSU does have a top defensive lineman in Nnamdi Oguayo and cornerback Jalen Thompson. But they lost a key defensive lineman to the NFL and the Cougars have a new defensive coordinator and scheme to adjust to as well.
Wyoming has won their last 7 home games as an underdog and is 9-2 ATS as a home dog under coach Dahl. Washington State is 0-4 ATS in their last four NCAAF Week 1 openers and have dropped their last seven season openers on the road. The Cougars are also just 3-6 ATS as an away favorite under leach. Having a game under its belt is a bonus, and add in the superior special teams units of Wyoming, its strong defense and the familiarity of the altitude in Laramie during practice the past month and we like Wyoming to win and take down a Power 5 program.