WYOMING – With its season-ending rout of New Mexico (31-3 on November 24) the Wyoming Cowboys became bowl eligible but likely on the outside looking in. The 39 bowl matchups were announced yesterday and Wyoming was not among the contestants.
“We are disappointed that our football team will not get the opportunity to play in a bowl game this season. The young men in our program and our coaching staff finished off this season with four consecutive wins. They deserved an opportunity to conclude this season, and in the case of our seniors their careers, with a bowl game,” said UW Athletics Director Tom Burman in a prepared statement.
The Cowboys gave it a good run, winning its last four games to finish the season 6-6, overall, 4-4 in conference play; good enough for third place in the Mountain West behind Boise State and Utah State. But with 82 bowl-eligible teams vying for 78 spots, the math left Wyoming out in the cold along with Miami of Ohio, Louisiana-Monroe, and Southern Miss.
Coach Craig Bohl commented in a released statement, “Our team certainly got better throughout the year, winning four games in a row to end the season. A lot of that is a credit to the leadership of our senior class. I do know that the Mountain West is an unbelievably competitive conference, and our schedule reflected that with the number of Top 25 teams that we faced this season. I thought we played the best competition we could. The bowl picture is one that is hotly debated across the country in terms of the number of bowl games that we should have. I do believe that our seniors deserved the opportunity to play another game because of the way we finished, but those decisions are not in my hands.”
Wyoming was hoping to play in its third straight bowl game for the first time in team history. The Pokes had their eyes on perhaps the Cheez-It Bowl, the Frisco Bowl, or the Redbox Bowl. But things didn’t work out for them in the season’s final weekend.
The Cowboys enjoyed a great finish to the 2018 season. After a 24-16 loss to Utah State dropped the Pokes to 2-6, Coach Bohl made a switch in quarterbacks, benching Tyler Vander Waal in favor of true freshman Sean Chambers. The change ignited the team and, even after Chambers was hurt early in a game against Air Force, Vander Waal was able to lead the team to a comeback 35-27 win and then steered the team to victory the following week on the strength of a sound ground game.
In the end, Wyoming was better than its 6-6 record. Five of their six losses came at the hands of teams that finished the year in the Top 25, four of those losses were against opponents who went on to 10-2 records.