(Sports Network) —The one team in the Mountain West Conference still without a league victory, the Wyoming Cowboys give it another go this weekend as they host the Colorado State Rams in the annual border war and fight for the Bronze Boot.
The Cowboys are down to their final game of the season and at this point they have just two wins to show for their efforts, yet neither of those have come against teams from inside the Football Bowl Subdivision. Last Saturday, the Pokes were sent to the loss column for the sixth straight time as they bowed to UNLV on the road in Nevada, 42-16.
As for the Rams, they too are closing out a dismal campaign this weekend as well. While CSU has just one more win than Wyoming, the Rams have posted all of those versus FBS foes and two have come in conference versus UNLV and New Mexico. However, last weekend the Rams failed to perform well at home and were slapped around by the BYU Cougars in a 49-10 final.
CSU owns a 54-41-5 advantage in the all-time series, but last year it was the Pokes who secured a 17-16 win in Fort Collins.
The offense for the Rams was nowhere to be found on Saturday afternoon, at least not until Pete Thomas tossed a 22-yard touchdown to Raymond Carter with 3:07 remaining in the fourth quarter of a 39-point setback in the final home game of the season. Thomas finished the outing 28-of-42 for 292 yards and the score, but he was also sacked twice and intercepted two times. Trailing from the very beginning, the Rams could not afford to waste time and effort running the ball, which is why they finished with just 83 yards on 24 attempts. The efforts of the running backs this year for the Rams have been under-whelming thus far, averaging just 117.4 ypg to rank sixth in the conference and 99th in the nation. Thomas has done everything he can just to keep the group competitive, throwing three touchdowns in two of the team's three victories, but otherwise he's been below average given the tradition of the pass-happy MWC. Nevertheless, Thomas has thrown for at least 250 yards in three straight games, so at least he's fighting until the very end.
Not only was the Colorado State offense on vacation against the Cougars, so was the defense as it allowed Luke Ashworth to turn his only four receptions of the meeting into 113 yards and four touchdowns, tying a Mountain West record for TD catches in a single outing. The pass defense gave up 242 yards and the run defense another 284 yards and two touchdowns, so nothing was working right for the Rams as hard they tried. Nevertheless, Ricky Brewer reached 100 tackles for the season as he tallied a team-best 13 stops and Mychal Sisson came up with 12 tackles and had a pair of forced fumbles in the futile effort. Brewer may be the one with a team-leading 101 tackles at this stage, but the more potent hitter for the Rams all season has been Sisson who has 13.0 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and six forced fumbles, all of which lead the team at the moment. Sisson also has a pair of fumble recoveries and one of four interceptions for the squad as well.
Alvester Alexander ran for 92 yards for the Cowboys last weekend, but with 72 yards coming on a single run on the team's first play from scrimmage it meant he did little after that in the loss to UNLV. The Pokes did have a passing touchdown in the outing, but even that didn't come from starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels who was limited to 13-of-22 through the air for just 108 yards and an interception. Instead, that scoring toss came from wideout David Leonard, his lone attempt of the contest. Alexander now has 645 yards and nine rushing touchdowns to his credit this season, yet the team as a whole is still ranked just 103rd in the nation with 111.1 ypg on the ground. Carta-Samuels showed tremendous promise last season for the Pokes, but this time around he has just nine scoring tosses, against eight picks and that, combined with limited running capability, has produced one of the weakest offenses in college football.
While the Wyoming offense was struggling to find an identity last week, the defense was opening gaping holes for Omar Clayton and his teammates to generate six total touchdowns. Granted, the pass defense for the Pokes gave up just 163 yards, but all of that came on just 13 completions and those went for three TDs. The lone sack of Clayton was credited to Josh Biezuns who tied with Marcell Gipson and Chris Prosinski for the team high in tackles with nine overall. As poor as the offense has been for the Cowboys, the defense has been equally as miserable with 436.6 ypg allowed, ranking the group eighth in the Mountain West Conference and 105th in the country entering the week. The run defense has been particularly woeful with 218.6 ypg allowed, although you can't blame a team for that when they face the likes of Air Force and TCU during a three-week stretch and those two programs are in the top-five in the nation running the ball.