An "opportunity" awaits Wyoming when Oregon of the big, bad Pac-12 visits Laramie to play the Cowboys on Saturday.
I liked QB Josh Allen's quote the best, about the Pokes finding motivation in trying to earn a signature win under coach Craig Bohl:
"Absolutely," he says, of how Wyoming should be highly motivated. "The whole team should be feeling that. It's an opportunity to go out there and show everybody that we're a real team."
Allen, an NFL prospect, leads the Cowboys into the 4 p.m. PT fray, as Bohl the commander — and three-time FCS champ at North Dakota State — prepares his team to bring down a "power program," as he calls Oregon. Hearing Bohl's comments this week, he believes it's about time such a signature win takes place.
Only, I'm not sure it happens — not because Wyoming has shown me anything less through two games. Bohl's team is pretty good, Allen is due to light it up, and the defense plays pretty well.
Oregon has shown itself to be a pretty good team, purportedly rebuilding but also looming as a threat to make some noise in the Pac-12.
Justin Herbert looks like a star in the making — I always thought that if Herbert played like a legitimate star, it could change the Duck dynamics in 2017. Royce Freeman looks like his old self. The offensive line looks physical. The defense looks like a bunch of battlers — not the greatest individual players, but a decent collective unit that refuses to make things easy on the opponent.
I think the Ducks finish off their unbeaten nonleague schedule Saturday.
I'm not sure the Cowboys have the horses on defense to slow down the Ducks. I can't imagine them holding down the UO running game, led by Freeman. And, Herbert and his coaches have been smart, so far, in throwing at the right times to take the heat off Freeman & Co. Some playmakers are emerging to complement the one proven guy, Charles Nelson.
One wonders, however, if the Ducks learned their lesson in the second half against Nebraska — to stay aggressive and unpredictable, rather than simply try to pound the rock for first downs (sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't work).
Yeah, I see Allen finding some success through the passing game. But the Ducks will try to apply pressure, and they'll get to him.
Also, Bohl talked about improving the Cowboys' running game. It's going to happen in a week? Wyoming has rushed for 124 net yards on 58 carries. Even though Oregon is a defensive work-in-progress, Wyoming ain't going to get it done with a one-dimensional offense.
Bohl admits Oregon has "a different level of speed," and it'll be quite a "challenge" to play the Ducks.
No doubt that War Memorial Stadium, with its raucous crowd and built-in advantage, being at 7,220 feet, could make an impact on the teams. One would think the Ducks play lots of guys to prevent fatigue at the high elevation; remember, defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt coached at Colorado, which sits about 2,000 feet below War Memorial Stadium. One would think the Cowboys try to tire out the Ducks, and ride Allen to yards and points to win in a good, old-fashioned shootout in Laramie.
Again, I don't think it happens — I had it pegged as a loss before the season, but not now. The Ducks will see their share of losses in Pac-12 play, but not to a Mountain West team that they should beat, even though it's on the road and at elevation.
THE PICK: Oregon 41, Wyoming 30