20211031-spts-IsaiahNeyor01.jpg

University of Wyoming wide receiver Isaiah Neyor, left, battles San Jose State defensive back Tre Jenkins for a pass in the end zone during the Cowboys’ 27-21 loss on Saturday in San Jose. Neyor had a pair of touchdown catches during the contest

Quarterback

Wyoming sophomore quarterback Levi Williams has made strides in each of his two starts this season. He completed 9 of 16 for 92 yards and two touchdowns last week against CSU, delivering the Cowboys' first turnover-free performance from the quarterback position since mid-September. Williams also rushed for a career-high 116 yards in the win. Boise State has more experience behind center, with junior quarterback Hank Bachmeier leading the Broncos’ passing attack. Bachmeier’s 16-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio is the second-best in the conference.

Advantage: Boise State

Running back

The Cowboys' 385 rushing yards last week were more than CSU compiled as a team, with junior running back Titus Swen erupting for a career-best 166 yards on 21 touches. Senior standout Xazavian Valladay added 76 yards on the ground to move to No. 2 on Wyoming's all-time rushing list. The Broncos have the No. 10 rushing offense in the MW, but found some life in this area with the return of a healthy George Halani last week. The sophomore running back went off for 186 yards from scrimmage, including a season-high 117 on the ground, in a 40-14 win over Fresno State.

Advantage: Wyoming

Wide receiver/tight end

There’s no denying that UW sophomore Isaiah Neyor is one of the most dangerous receivers in the conference. He’s tied for second in touchdown catches and is fifth in yards per catch, despite ranking 22nd in receptions. However, the Pokes will be shorthanded at Boise State, with Ayden Eberhardt done for the year and Alex Brown doubtful for this week. The Broncos have a handful of weapons on the outside, but none more notable than Khalil Shakir. The senior ranks second in the MW with 93.8 yards per game, and has already made a couple appearances on the SportsCenter Top 10 this year.

Advantage: Boise State

Offensive line

The UW offensive line appeared to turn a corner against SJSU, and built off this momentum with an overpowering performance against CSU — during which the Cowboys averaged 6.8 yards per carry. The Pokes are also hopeful that senior Eric Abojei will be able to return from an injury this week. The Broncos have been forced to shuffle the offensive line due to injuries of their own, with four different starting combinations in nine games. Aside from last week, this inconsistency has led to significant struggles in the run game.

Advantage: Wyoming

Defensive line

Wyoming’s defensive line has been solid for the bulk of the season, but the group’s depth will be tested against Boise State. The Cowboys are without a pair of key veterans up front, with Ravontae Holt and Solomon Byrd both expected to miss the rest of the year. The Broncos' defensive line has had major issues against the run, ranking last in the MW in rushing defense, but they have been able to get to the quarterback, recording 22 sacks in nine games. Sophomore edge rusher Isaiah Bagnah is fourth in the conference with 0.75 sacks per game.

Advantage: Push

Linebackers

There might not be a more productive defensive player in the MW than Wyoming senior Chad Muma, who took home defensive player of the week honors after recording 11 tackles, six solo stops and an interception last Saturday. Sophomore linebacker Easton Gibbs also impressed against CSU, mirroring Muma's tackling numbers while breaking up a pair of passes. Boise State has a pair of seniors at the linebacker position, but the Broncos are still allowing a conference-high 174.4 rushing yards per game – something that could spell trouble against one of the MW's top running back tandems.

Advantage: Wyoming

Secondary

Boise State has no shortage of playmakers in the secondary, with ​​junior cornerback Tyric LeBeauf leading the MW in interceptions per game, and junior safety J.L. Skinner providing an imposing presence in the middle of the field at 6-foot-4, 218 pounds. However, it’s tough to match the production of Wyoming’s defensive backs. The Cowboys boast the top passing defense in the conference with 155.7 yards per game, nearly 30 yards less than No. 2 Air Force. They also snapped a near month-long turnover drought last week.

Advantage: Wyoming

Special teams

While both teams have been fairly similar in terms of production in the kicking game, Boise State seems to hold an edge in the return game. The Broncos' are averaging an MW-best 17.2 yards per punt return, one of which went for a touchdown, while the Cowboys rank second-to-last in the category.

Advantage: Boise State

Final score: Wyoming 24, Boise State 21

Josh Criswell covers the University of Wyoming for WyoSports. He can be reached at jcriswell@wyosports.net or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @criswell_sports.

Recommended for you

comments powered by Disqus