Updated: Wyoming Headed to Arizona Bowl -- Third Post-Season Appearance in Four Years
Yes, a trip to a bowl game -- which the Wyoming Cowboys will make this year -- is a reward for a season of success.
But for the Cowboys the Dec. 31 date in the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl against Georgia State is as much about a down payment on the future as a reward for the past.
"We have a young emerging football team and the practice will find (build) the foundation," said head coach Craig Bohl, unlike (two years ago in the Potato Bowl) when we had a senior laten team and Josh as our quarterback."
The Cowboys will be making their 16th bowl appearance, and the third in four years, Bohl joining Paul Roach as the only coaches in school history to oversee three bowl games.
Middle linebacker Logan Wilson, a product of Casper's Natrona County High School, will have appeared in all three of those games, and Tucson game will mark the end his collegiate career.
"It's been a long time coming," said Wilson. "Coach Bohl said when we got here, `Those who stay will be champions.' The opportunity of going to a bowl for the third time in four years is awesome, and something to look forward to."
Bohl said there was a no-contract practice on Saturday, but he and his staff are on the road recruiting and the players "are deep into finals" so the focused practices are likely a week away.
"We don't want to stay so far away from football that we lose some of the skill sets," he said of the light work sessions.
Bohl said the Cowboys will take a break so the players can go home for Christmas, and the team will then gather in Tucson on Dec. 27 to for through final workouts and the pomp and circumstance of a bowl appearance in preparation for the game the afternoon of Dec. 31.
This is Wyoming's first appearance in the Tucson Bowl, but long-time Wyoming fans are familiar with Tucson. The team played in the now-defunct Copper Bowl in Tucson in 1990 and 1993, and the University of Arizona, which is based in Tucson, and the Cowboys were original members of the Western Athletic Conference.
The game will be a matchup of contrasting styles, featuring the defensive-focused Cowboys and offensive-oriented Georgia State (7-5), which finished third in the Sun Belt East Division, and including a season-opening win at Tennessee on its resume.
“This is a great achievement for a very young football team that has a bright future,” University of Wyoming Director of Athletics Tom Burman said. “We are thrilled to be playing in the Arizona Bowl. Bowl games present an opportunity for celebration and enjoyment, but it also allows us vital practices to prepare for next season.”
Bohl said the support the Cowboys receive from their fan base makes him feel good about the turnout for the game.
“This game is a great way to support our athletic department,” Bohl said. “We have always been noted for our fans traveling. I have always been heart warmed by the number of fans who come out and support the University of Wyoming.”
The Cowboys are required to sell 2,500 tickets for the game. Based off past experiences that should not be a problem. One reason the folks in Tucson worked to try and get a 6-6 Cowboys' team to the bowl last year is the way Wyoming fan travel over the years.
The game will feature contrasting styles.
While Wyoming allowed an average 17.8 points per game, second fewest in the Mountain West, Georgia State averaged 32.4 points per game.
Georgia State averaged 333.7 yards total offense, including 260.9 yards rushing. The Cowboys limited the opposition to 99.4 yards per game rushing, second best in the MW, and was No. 4 in the MW allowing 364.5 yards total offense per game.