BOWL GAME PREVIEW: Wyoming wants a win to cap off a very successful season in Arizona Bowl against Ohio; Cowboys Game Notes

Pokes Making Their 18th Bowl Appearance

Tucson, Ariz. (Dec. 28, 2022) —  The 2022 University of Wyoming Football team will cap off a successful season on Friday, Dec. 30 in Tucson, Ariz., when it will face the Ohio Bobcats in the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl.  It will be the culmination of a season that saw Wyoming, one of the youngest teams in the nation, exceed all expectations to post a 7-5 record and finish second in the Mountain West Conference Mountain Division.
Ohio advanced to the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship Game in 2022 as the MAC East Division Champion.  The Bobcats finished as the MAC runner-up after losing 17-7 to Toledo in the championship game, and will bring a 9-4 record into the Arizona Bowl.  Friday’s game will kick off at 2:30 p.m., Mountain Time from Arizona Stadium in Tucson.

This year’s appearance will be Wyoming’s 18th bowl appearance in history.  The Cowboys are 9-8 overall in bowl games.
Where to Watch and Listen
Every Cowboy Football game is broadcast live on radio on the 26 affiliates of the Cowboy Sports Network.  Announcers are Keith Kelley, Play-by-Play (1st year), Kevin McKinney, Color Analyst (25th year) and Erick Pauley, Sideline Reporter (1st year).  The pregame show begins 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
Friday’s Wyoming-Ohio game will be televised online on BARSTOOL.TV.  Calling the game for Barstool Sports will be Jake Marsh (Play-by-play), Dave Portnoy (Color Analyst) and Dan “Big Cat” Katz (Color Analyst).
Surprising Cowboys
Wyoming was the surprise team of the Mountain West in 2022.  The Pokes were selected to finish fifth in the Mountain Division in a preseason poll of Mountain West media members.  But the Cowboys finished second after defeating four of its five MW Division rivals, losing only to division champion Boise State by three points (20-17).      
Mountain Division
Current Standings              Preseason Picks
1. Boise State          9-0       Boise State            1st       
2. Wyoming            5-3       Wyoming               5th
3. Utah State           5-3       Utah State              3rd      
4. Air Force              5-3       Air Force                2nd     
5. Colorado State    3-5       Colorado State       4th
6. New Mexico         0-7       New Mexico           6th
West Division
Current Standings              Preseason Picks 
1. Fresno State        7-1       Fresno State           1st
2. San Diego St.      5-3       San Diego St.          2nd
3. San Jose St.        5-3       San Jose St.            3rd
4. UNLV                   3-5       UNLV                       5th
5. Hawai’i                 2-6       Hawai’i                     6th
6. Nevada                0-8       Nevada                    4th
Winning Ways — Wyoming Wins Seven Games for Fifth Time in Bohl Era
Wyoming’s winning ways have continued this season.  The Cowboys won their seventh game of the 2022 season at Colorado State on Nov. 12.  That is the fifth time in the nine seasons Craig Bohl has coached the Cowboys that the Pokes have won seven or more games.
UW also won seven games in 2021 and won eight games in 2019, 2017 and 2016.
Wyoming’s Recent Bowl Success the Best in School History
Wyoming will be making its fifth bowl appearance in the past seven seasons, which is the only time in school history that Wyoming has made that many bowl appearances in that span of time.
The Cowboys have also earned bowl eligibility for the sixth time in the past seven seasons.
During that seven-year span, Wyoming has appeared in the 2016 Poinsettia Bowl, the 2017 and 2021 Famous Idaho Potato Bowls and the 2019 and 2022 Arizona Bowls.  Wyoming was also bowl eligible in 2018 with a 6-6 record but did not receive a bowl bid.
Chasing History
The Cowboys will enter this year’s Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl chasing history.  Having won its last three bowls games, the Pokes will be trying to match Wyoming’s all-time school record for consecutive bowl wins of four.  The only time in its history that Wyoming has won four consecutive bowl appearances was in the 1950s and ’60s when the Cowboys won the 1951 Gator Bowl, 1956 Sun Bowl, 1958 Sun Bowl and 1966 Sun Bowl.    UW’s current streak includes wins in the 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, the 2019 Arizona Bowl and the 2021 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
A Coaching First
Head coach Craig Bohl will set a new standard for Cowboy football this bowl season when he will become the first head coach in Wyoming Football history to take five Cowboy teams to bowl games (2016 Poinsettia Bowl, 2017 Potato Bowl, 2019 Arizona Bowl, 2021 Potato Bowl and 2022 Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl).  Bohl originally set a UW record in 2021 when he took his fourth team to a bowl game.  Prior to Bohl, UW Athletics Hall of Fame Coach Paul Roach had held the record, taking three Wyoming teams to bowl games (1987, ’88 and ’90).
Bohl and his coaching staff are the only coaching staff in school history to win three bowl games (2017, ’19 and ’21).
Cowboy Linebacker Easton Gibbs Among Top Tacklers in the Mountain West and the Nation
Wyoming sophomore linebacker Easton Gibbs leads the Cowboys in tackles this season, with 111.  He is averaging 9.2 tackles per game to rank No. 3 in the Mountain West and No. 23 nationally.  Gibbs enters this week with 243 career tackles.
Linebacker Legacy — Gibbs Becomes Third Cowboy to Earn First Team All-MW in Last Four Seasons
Wyoming’s defense has built a legacy of outstanding linebackers.  By being named First Team All-Mountain West in 2022, Wyoming linebacker Easton Gibbs became the third consecutive Cowboy to earn First Team All-MW honors.  Gibbs joins former Pokes Logan Wilson (First Team 2019) and Chad Muma (First Team in 2020 and ’21) in the exclusive group of Cowboy linebackers.  Wilson is currently the starting middle linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL, and Muma is a significant contributor to the defense of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
Honors Continue to Come in for Cowboy Kicker John Hoyland 
UW sophomore place-kicker John Hoyland has acquired a number of honors during his Wyoming playing career, and he has ranked among the best kickers in Wyoming school history and among the best active place-kickers in the nation.
Hoyland will enter this week’s Arizona Bowl game with 20 made field goals for the 2022 season.  He is tied for the school record of made field goals in a single-season with Cory Wedel, who made 20 field goals in the 1996 season, and J.D. Wallum, who made 20 in the 2001 season.
Hoyland is also one of the leading kickers in the nation this season.  He is averaging 1.67 field goals per game to rank No. 1 in the MW and No. 9 in the country this season and has made 20 of 23 field goals through the first 12 games of the season for a field-goal percentage of 87.0 percent, which ranks 22nd in the nation and No. 2 in the Mountain West.
John Hoyland’s 2022 Honors
•2022 Second Team Mid-Season All-American (As selected by PFF — Pro Football Focus)
•2022 Semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award
•2022 First Team All-Mountain West (As selected by MW Head Coaches & Media)
Cowboys Will Have 10 All-Conference Performers Playing in the 2022 Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl
When Wyoming kicks off this year’s Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl, there will be 10 Cowboys playing who received All-Mountain West Conference Honors this season.
Six Cowboys playing in the Arizona Bowl were named to the official Mountain West All-Conference Teams selected by MW head coaches and media members.  Those six Pokes were: First Team selections Easton Gibbs at linebacker and John Hoyland at place-kicker and Honorable Mention All-Conference honorees defensive end DeVonne Harris, quarterback Andrew Peasley, punter Clayton Stewart and tight end Treyton Welch.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) named Welch and offensive guard Zach Watts to their First Team All-MW Team.  Hoyland earned Second Team honors for PFF along with center Nofoafia Tulafono.  Two more Cowboys, offensive tackle Frank Crum and offensive guard Emmanuel Pregnon, were named to PFF’s Third Team.
Winning the Close Ones
In the 12 regular-season games Wyoming played this season, five of those 12 games have been decided by a touchdown or less and the Cowboys have won four of those five games.  Below is a breakdown of those close finishes in 2022.
Opponent (Date and Location)             Score and Margin of Victory
Tulsa (Sept. 3 in Laramie)                       W 40-37, +3 (2 overtimes)
Air Force (Sept. 16 in Laramie)               W 17-14, +3
Hawai’i (Oct. 29 in Honolulu)                   W 27-20, +7
Colorado State (Nov. 12 in Fort Collins)  W 14-13, +1
Boise State (Nov. 19 in Laramie)             L 17-20, -3
Comeback Cowboys — Wyoming Has Five Come-From-Behind Wins in 2022
This year’s Wyoming Cowboys have shown an ability to comeback to win games.  Wyoming has come from behind in five games this season to record wins.                
In Wyoming’s home game vs. Tulsa on Sept. 3, the Pokes trailed 34-24 with 14:52 remaining in the contest.  Wyoming would win the game in double overtime (40-37).
Against Air Force on Sept. 16, the Cowboys faced a 14-10 deficit with 9:58 remaining in the game.  Wyoming came away with a 17-14 victory.
On Oct. 8, Wyoming trailed New Mexico 14-0 in the first quarter before the Cowboys came back to score 27 unanswered points to win 27-14 in Albuquerque, N.M.
At Hawai’i on Oct. 29, UW fell behind 10-0 in the second quarter, before fighting back to record a 27-20 road win.
In its road game at Colorado State on Nov. 12, the Pokes fell behind 10-0 in the first half before rallying for a 14-13 victory.
Wyoming-Ohio Series History Marked by Close Finishes
Wyoming and Ohio have played only twice previously, but both games ended in exciting fashion.  The Cowboys came away with one-point wins in both games — 34-33 in Athens, Ohio, in 2007 and 21-20 in Laramie, Wyo., in 2008.
Wyoming Has a Long History vs. the MAC and a History vs. MAC Teams in Bowl Games
Since 1996 when the Wyoming Cowboys first played a Mid-American Conference team in Western Michigan, the Cowboys are 11-5 all-time against current teams from the MAC.  UW is 5-3 against MAC foes in Laramie, 4-2 on the road and 2-0 at neutral sites.
The Pokes also have faced a number of current MAC teams in bowl games.  In the 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Wyoming defeated MAC member Central Michigan (37-14).  The Cowboys also defeated a MAC Team in the 2021 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl when they beat Kent State (52-38).
While they are not a current member of the MAC in 2011 the Pokes faced Temple University in the New Mexico Bowl when the Owls were part of the Mid-American Conference.  UW lost that game 37-15.  Saturday’s Wyoming-Ohio game will be the fourth time that the Cowboys will play a MAC team in a bowl game. 
Wyoming Offensive Line Impressive This Season
The Wyoming offensive line has performed well this season.  The Cowboys have allowed only 15.0 quarterback sacks through 12 games. 
UW is ranked No. 3 in the MW and No. 25 in the nation in fewest sacks allowed at 1.25 per game.  
The Cowboys are ranked No. 2 in the conference and No. 23 in the country in fewest tackles for loss allowed, giving up only 4.33 per game.
Sack Sensations, Wyoming No. 2 in the Mountain West and No. 20 in the Nation in Quarterback Sacks  The Wyoming defense has been very effective at sacking opposing quarterbacks this season.  Eight different Cowboys have at least one sack on the season.
Wyoming has 34 total sacks and is averaging 2.83 sacks per game.  That ranks the Pokes No. 2 in the Mountain West and No. 20 in the nation.
The Pokes have had at least one sack in all but two games this season (at Illinois and vs. Boise State) and have had six games with multiple sacks, including: 3 at Fresno State, 4 vs. Tulsa, 5 vs. Northern Colorado, 5 at Colorado State, 6 at New Mexico and 6 vs. Utah State.
Coaching Connection
Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl and Ohio head coach Tim Albin have known each other for over 20 years.  When Bohl was the defensive coordinator at Nebraska from 2000-02, Albin was a graduate assistant on Frank Solich’s staff at Nebraska.            
In 2004, Bohl hired Albin as his offensive coordinator at North Dakota State where they guided NDSU to an 8-3 record and a No. 25 national ranking in the Bison’s first year competing at the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level.
About the Ohio Bobcats
The Ohio Bobcats won the Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division this season with a 9-4 overall record and a 7-1 conference mark.  Ohio ended the regular season winning its last seven games before losing a close 17-7 game vs. Toledo in the MAC Championship Game.
Ohio led the Mid-American Conference in offense for the 2022 season and ranked No. 39 in the nation, averaging 424.0 yards of total offense per game.  The Bobcats passing game keys its offensive attack, averaging 285.4 passing yards per game to rank No. 1 in the MAC and No. 18 in the nation.
Bobcat Quarterback Kurtis Rourke was named the winner of the MAC Vern Smith Leadership Award as the top player in the conference.  Rourke was also named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2022.  He unfortunately was injured in the Ball State game on Nov. 15 and was lost for the remainder of the season.
Ohio head coach Tim Albin was also named the MAC Coach of the Year, and freshman running back Sieh Bangura was named the MAC Freshman of the Year.