Wyoming coach Dave Christensen vowed to turn the Cowboys around, but few thought it would come so quickly. The Cowboys are playing in their first bowl game since 2004 and were one of the rare success stories among the nonautomatic qualifying schools with new head coaches. But winning the bowl against a Fresno State team that has won at least eight games for the seventh time this decade will be a difficult task.
WHO TO WATCH: Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State
Mathews, a junior, has been the Bulldogs' greatest offensive weapon this season and this might be his last game in a Fresno State uniform if he leaves for the NFL. Mathews led the nation in rushing with 151.27 yards per game. He rushed for more than 100 yards in 10 games this season. The only two games he didn’t were the ones he missed due to a concussion.
WHAT TO WATCH: The play of Wyoming QB Austyn Carta-Samuels
Carta-Samuels is one of the best young talents this year and a treat to watch because of his playmaking ability. The Mountain West’s Freshman of the Year doesn’t have a lot of help around him, but has the ability to make plays with both his arm and feet and can create plays out of nothing. He’s young, but he’s the reason the Cowboys are in a bowl game.
WHY TO WATCH: Fresno State could be Wyoming’s future
Fresno State has been a model of consistency most of this decade and is the type of team Wyoming would like to emulate under new head coach Dave Christensen. This bowl game has been a long time coming for Cowboys fans. In Christensen’s first season, he’s turned the program around and with talented recruits coming in, this might be a sign of the success the Cowboys could have on a consistent basis.
PREDICTION: Fresno State has been here before -- literally. The Bulldogs lost this bowl a year ago. But with Mathews going against Wyoming’s weak rushing defense, it’s going to be tough for the Cowboys to keep up. Wyoming’s best bet is to limit the big plays, but Mathews has played well even against some of the best defenses. The Bulldogs win this one 30-14.