There are years where six wins not only gets you a bowl invitation, but it guarantees one. In 2018, Wyoming, Southern Miss, Miami (OH) & UL-Monroe had six wins and will be drinking homemade eggnog instead of playing in the post-season.
It was a roller-coaster season for the Cowboys. A strong start which included a dominating win over New Mexico State was followed up by a lead over Washington State to begin the fourth quarter of the second game.
It was then that the Pokes and the fans learned something that they didn’t know before that point. The team needed Nico Evans.
Once Evans, who was the eventual Mountain West’s leading rusher, exited the eventual loss to the Cougars it was mighty hard for the Pokes to pick up a victory over the next six weeks, only pulling out a last-second win against FCS Wofford. There was also a blowout loss to Missouri and one-sided eyesores against both Fresno and Boise State.
During this stretch there was a terrible loss in Hawaii where the Cowboys had every opportunity to win and also a tight game with Utah State who scored in all three phases to win in Laramie.
At the bottom of the pendulum, the Cowboys offense was abysmal, moving like molasses on an uphill slope in February.
Then entered true freshman quarterback Sean Chambers who combined with Evans to form a terrific tandem and sparked the Cowboys to a pair of wins over Colorado State and San Jose State.
After Chambers went down early against Air Force with a season-ending injury, Tyler Vander Waal looked like the guy who won the quarterback job in the off-season as he led an unlikely rally and a win over the Falcons.
Finally it was a 31-3 drubbing of New Mexico that completed a four-game winning streak and a (6-6) record for the Cowboys but the middle of the schedule ultimately cost the Cowboys a chance to play in the program’s third straight bowl game.
It’s not the first time in recent memory that Wyoming has been snubbed by the bowl selection committees. In 2006 UW was (6-6) under then coach Joe Glenn and stayed home for the holidays. For all of his issues, Dana Dimel’s teams won seven, eight and seven games in 1997, 1998 & 1999 respectively with no bowl invitations. The most egregious of the snubs took place 1996 under Joe Tiller when the Cowboys went (10-2) and were ranked as high as #16 during the season and finished at #22 after a loss to BYU in the inaugural WAC Championship game. No bowl.
Some Wyoming fans are angry that BYU picked up a bowl nod to the Idaho Famous Potatos Bowl in an event that is supposed to have Mountain West ties. While I don’t like it, the bottom line is this. A miserable month of October cost Wyoming a December vacation. May it serve as motivation for 2019 which is shaping up to be a bright season for the Pokes. Until then, Wyoming fans should save their nickels for the time that the program is back into the post-season. It won’t be very long.
Regional Bowl Game selections
New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, NM) (Dec. 15) – North Texas vs Utah State
Las Vegas Bowl (Las Vegas, NV) (Dec. 15) – Arizona State vs Fresno State
Frisco Bowl (Frisco, TX) (Dec. 19) – San Diego State vs Ohio
Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise, ID) (Dec. 21) – BYU vs Western Michigan
Hawaii Bowl (Honolulu, HI) (Dec. 22) – Hawaii vs Louisiana Tech
First Responder Bowl (Dallas, TX) (Dec. 26) – Boston College vs Boise State
Arizona Bowl, (Tucson, AZ) (Dec. 29) – Nevada vs Arkansas State
Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA) (Dec. 31) – Utah vs Northwestern