FACTS & STATS: Site: War Memorial Stadium (29,181) — Laramie, Wyoming.
Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: SJSU 2-1, Wyoming 3-0. Away Record: SJSU
0-2, Wyoming 0-3. Neutral Record: SJSU 0-0, Wyoming 0-0. Conference Record:
SJSU 1-1, Wyoming 1-1. Series Record: Wyoming leads, 6-2.
GAME NOTES: Winless on the road this season, Wyoming is more than happy to
return to the friendly confines of War Memorial Stadium in Laramie on Saturday
afternoon in order to host fellow Mountain West Conference member San Jose
Last weekend, the Cowboys played in paradise out in the South Pacific, but the
result of their meeting with Hawaii at Aloha Stadium was anything but pleasant
as they suffered a 38-28 defeat. The loss was the second in a row and the
third in four tries for a team that is now 0-3 away from home and is breaking
even in conference play after two games.
Meanwhile, the Spartans enjoyed some time off last week, which means they will
have had a full two weeks to prepare for this encounter. San Jose State, a
team which finished an even 6-6 a year ago, has just two wins through the
first five games this time around and only one of those has come against
another FBS member. On Oct. 4, the Spartans put the screws to UNLV at home and
scored a 33-10 victory, snapping a three-game slide at the time.
Last season, the Spartans won a wild offensive shootout by a score of 51-44 at
home, but still that was just the second win in eight all-time matchups
between the schools on the football field.
After falling behind in the opening minutes of the first quarter against UNLV,
the Spartans erupted for 33 straight points and cruised to the victory at home
in front of slightly more than 14,000 in the crowd. Kicker Austin Lopez could
have defeated the Rebels all by himself, having knocked through four
consecutive field goals in a span of less than 15 minutes between the second
and third quarters.
SJSU quarterback Joe Gray completed 20 of his 30 pass attempts for 265 yards
and a score, adding a touchdown on the ground as well. The Spartans raced for
277 yards and two TDs on 56 attempts, with Tyler Ervin picking up a game-high
133 yards and a score on 11 carries.
After giving up a touchdown on the first possession of the game, the Spartans
clamped down considerably. San Jose State did surrender 114 yards on the first
two UNLV drives, but moving forward the Rebels managed only 107 yards the rest
of the way.
Thanks in part to the effort against UNLV, the defense for the Spartans now
ranks 18th in the nation with just 320.2 ypg allowed. Even more impressive is
the fact that the pass defense is giving up a miniscule 89.6 ypg, tops among
all 125 FBS programs.
Unfortunately, as strong as the Spartans can play on defense, the same effort
is not always on display on the other side of the ball. The team is scoring
only 21.0 ppg at the moment and closing out contests has become a real issue
after scoring a mere 14 points in the fourth quarter over five games. The only
player making a name for himself to this point is receiver Tyler Winston who
has 35 catches, 23 more than his closest teammate, for 331 yards and three
Wyoming jumped out to a 14-0 lead less than six minutes into the meeting with
Hawaii last weekend, but the offense dried up and the defense became a bit too
lax as the Rainbow Warriors mounted a successful comeback bid in the second
half to secure the double-digit win at home.
Jalen Claiborne finished with a career-best 121 receiving yards and scored
once on six receptions, while Shaun Wick contributed 121 yards and a score on
24 rushing attempts in the losing cause.
Quarterback Colby Kirkegaard threw for two scores and 221 yards, but he was
also picked off twice in the second half, costly mistakes that helped to swing
momentum in favor of the hosts.
Defensively, the Cowboys allowed Hawaii to generate a monumental 232 yards and
a pair of scores on the ground, not to mention another 281 yards and three TDs
through the air. Clearly, the Pokes were exposed every which way when the
Hawaii offense took the field.
Overall this season, the defense has not been horrible for Wyoming, but it
won’t be winning awards any time soon either. The squad currently permits
202.3 ypg on the ground, tying for 100th in the nation this week, but the
secondary has allowed only 219.0 ypg, good for 46th.
A bigger concern has to be the Wyoming offense since the running attack is
producing only 131.2 ypg, and that means the group is now checking in at 111th
in terms of total offense (335.8 ypg). Perhaps the biggest surprise through
the first half of the season is that Dominic Rufran leads the team with 25
catches for 365 yards, but has yet to land in the end zone for a squad that is
posting a mere 18.3 ppg (116th).
San Jose State is a better team on paper these days, but the weather up in
Laramie could certainly play a factor in the outcome this weekend. If the home
team is dealing with conditions that they are used to, that could leave the
Spartans out in the cold.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wyoming 24, San Jose State 21