October 27, 2016

Boise State and Wyoming are two programs looking up.

When the two teams meet Saturday in Laramie, No. 13 Boise State (7-0, 3-0 Mountain West) will be looking to continue its rise in the AP Top 25 poll , while Wyoming (5-2, 3-0) is looking to continue its ascent from 2-10 finish last year.

While first place in the Mountain Division is at stake, the Broncos have their sights set on cracking the Top 10 in hopes of earning a spot in the College Football Playoff. To do that, they need to remain undefeated.

''This game has big implications not only with the Mountain West Conference but nationally,'' Wyoming coach Craig Bohl noted.

But Broncos coach Bryan Harsin has other more immediate concerns on his mind - turnovers chief among them.

''We've gotten three this year and given up 11,'' Harsin said. ''That is not a good ratio for us in the turnover category. We're certainly aware of that, but it needs to change.''

Boise State has never lost to Wyoming in the 10 meetings between the two teams. The Broncos won easily last year 34-14 .

But Harsin said Wyoming is a program on the rise under Bohl, who over the last three years has brought a style of blue-collar, disciplined football that proved successful on the FCS level at North Dakota State.

''Certainly no surprise that Wyoming has developed this season and is having the success they're having,'' Harsin said.

Wyoming is led offensively by running back Brian Hill, who is second in the nation in rushing, averaging 144.3 yards. Hill ran for 289 yards last week in a win at Nevada.

''They are running the football and they are doing it effectively,'' Harsin said.

Bohl said he knew before the season started that the Cowboys were much improved but he said the program is ''on a good trajectory'' and ''maybe a little bit ahead of where I'd thought we would be'' at this point.

The Cowboys have recorded their best start in the Mountain West Conference since joining the conference in 1999. They are one win away from becoming bowl eligible. The Cowboys were last in a bowl game in 2011.

''We didn't get here by chance and now it's going to be important that we continue to play well,'' Bohl said. ''But we're certainly in a different place than where we had been and it's not by happenstance.''

Wyoming's improvement this year has raised the stakes with Boise State coming to Laramie - something Cowboys fans haven't had at War Memorial Stadium in years.

Some things to watch for in Saturday's game:

BRINGING THE OFFENSE: Entering the game, Wyoming has averaged 34.4 points a game this season, and the Broncos 34.3. Both team feature dynamic running backs: Wyoming's Brian Hill, who is second in the nation in rushing, and Boise State's Jeremy McNichols, who is No. 6 with a per-game average of 130.7 yards on the ground.

Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen is No. 3 in the Mountain West in total offense, averaging 231 yards a game. Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien is No. 1 in the league in passing, averaging 294.9 a game. However, Wyoming learned this week that its starting right tackle, Ryan Cummings, will be lost for the season because of a foot injury.

WYOMING VERSUS TOP 25 TEAMS IN LARAMIE: Wyoming last beat a Top 25 opponent on Oct. 26, 2002, when it topped No. 22 Air Force 34-26 in Laramie. The highest ranked team Wyoming has ever defeated at home (or on the road) was No. 11 Arizona State in 1972, by a score of 45-43.

BOISE IN LARAMIE - Boise State has beaten Wyoming in all five games between the two teams at Laramie. Those five wins have been by an average of 30.8 points. This year, Wyoming's defense has been giving up 30.3 points per game, but it has also recorded four defensive touchdowns and forced 15 turnovers this season.

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AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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