Wyoming vs. Bowling Green Preview

by Football

What a difference a week makes.  The Cowboys came to play on both sides of the ball last weekend and finished off their FCS season right where they should be, 2-0.  Now things get significantly more difficult as the Cowboys face their first road contest traveling to the Midwest’s idea of oxymoron, Bowling Green, Ohio, where they match up with the Falcons (whose colors are orange and brown).  Making matters more difficult the game will feature a noon eastern start or 10 AM mountain time (playing on ESPN3 which is now watchespn.com).  The Cowboys will have to wake up early and make sure that they are ready right from the start as the Falcons have outscored their two opponents 65-17 in the first half, while the Cowboys have waited until the second half to showcase their talents.  This contest has the makings of an offensive shootout, if the Cowboys can handle the early wake-up call.

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When the Cowboys Run:

The Cowboy triple threat at running back is for real.  The Pokes ran for 382 yards against Texas State and had two backs break the century mark (Miller and Muhammad), while all three reached pay-dirt. They were however outshone by their QB, Brett Smith, who found the promise land twice on the ground.  The three headed monster at tailback is working out better than anyone could have imagined as the Cowboys always have a fresh set of legs to bust a long run.  Add Brett Smith to that mix and the Cowboys have a potent ground threat. The offensive line has done its part and has looked excellent so far this season and the backs have taken advantage.  On the defensive side of the ball the Falcons have posted two solid games, but they have faced weak offenses and the past two seasons they have had incredible difficulties stopping the run.  The Cowboys should continue their success on the ground, but do not expect another 382 yard outing.

EDGE: COWBOYS

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When the Cowboys Pass:

Brett Smith’s passing numbers came back down to earth a bit last weekend, but he still leads the Mountain West in passing and two of his three interceptions on the season have come from bad luck rather than bad reads.  He is getting a lot of time in the backfield to cycle through his progressions and the Cowboy receivers have been getting open.  The Cowboys appear to be lacking a go-to receiver but not because nobody has stepped up, instead so many have upped their game that it is hard to give any one receiver that distinction at this point.  Dominic Rufran had an excellent game last weekend as he grabbed 5 balls for 96 yards and looked much more comfortable in his second collegiate outing.  Chris McNeill grabbed 3 for 57 yards and 1TD and Robert Herron added 5 for 29 yards.  On the other side of the ball Bowling Green has averaged giving up only 132 yards through the air, but again their competition has been suspect.  The Falcons will post the greatest challenge for the Cowboy passing game to date, but the Cowboy offense looks to be for real with play makers all over the field.

EDGE: COWBOYS

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When the Falcons Run:

The Falcons have posted strong rushing numbers in each of their first two contests, running the ball using a very similar scheme as the Cowboys (Gregg Brandon was their head coach after all).  The Cowboy defense will certainly have its hands full but the performance against Texas State should instill some confidence in the Pokes defense.  The Cowboys were quick to take advantage of Texas State’s inability to pass which certainly helped the run defense, this week they will not have that luxury as the Falcons passing offense has been equally as explosive as their run offense.  This will put a lot of pressure on the front seven to win the battle at the line of scrimmage.  For the Pokes to be successful they must prevent the Falcons from ripping off big runs.

EDGE: FALCONS

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When the Falcons Pass:

Falcon quarterback, Matt Schilz has thrown for 549 yards and 7 TDs in two games this season (6 to Eugene Cooper).  If the Cowboys want to slow down the Falcon passing game then they have to lock down Cooper and that job will almost certainly fall to Marqueston Huff as Tashaun Gibson will be busy following Kamar Jorden around.  Jorden has been the Falcons go to guy for a while, but Cooper busted out onto the scene this season and has shown that he too demands the attention of the defense.  Schiliz and the Falcon offense have been so good moving the ball through the air that the Cowboys D-line will have to get pressure on Schilz to prevent him from picking apart the secondary.  This will be a tough assignment for the Cowboy defense but they do have the luxury of going up against an offense that they saw all of fall camp (the same can be said for the Falcons defense however).  The Pokes need to dig deep, make Schilz uncomfortable and force some turnovers, something that appears like it may be a tough task.

EDGE: FALCONS

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Special Teams:

Again there is not much to go on to separate these two teams in terms of special teams.  Bowling Green is 2-2 on field goals while Wyoming is 1-1, Bowling Green has however missed an extra point making 10 of 11 while Daniel Sullivan and Stewart Williams are a perfect 11-11.  The Falcons punter, Brian Schmiedebusch is averaging 50+ yards per punt while Austin McCoy is averaging only averaging 36.9 yards per kick after maybe his worst outing ever last week.  Neither team has been particularly impressive in the return department but the Cowboys have seen a few promising returns by Dominic Rufran.  Because the last two weeks were slated as pushes and it seems rather cheap to continue calling every special teams match-up an even, the nod will go to Bowling Green because of the punt yardage discrepancy.

EDGE: FALCONS
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Coaching:

This contest boasts two third year coach Daves (Dave Christensen and Dave Clawson) with sub .500 records trying to make a name for themselves.  Now in year three both, for the first time, are 2-0 and facing their toughest opponent to date.  In each coach’s first season the team made it to a bowl game; the Cowboys barely won and the Falcons barely lost.  All around the two coaches have incredibly similar resumes BUT the Cowboys have the Falcons previous head coach calling the plays on offense.  So for that reason and that reason alone the edge will go to the Cowboys.  Gregg Brandon will have plenty of motivation taking his offense back to the school that dumped him and he will provide the insight on what it will take to come out of Ohio with a win.

EDGE:  COWBOYS
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Prediction:

Chris- I am buying into the Cowboys this year.  Cowboy fans have been waiting for a productive offense and in year three Dave Christensen has delivered.  The Falcons will be the toughest test to date and they are more than capable of scoring points, but the Cowboys used their two FCS games to build the momentum and confidence that they lacked all of last season and are combining that with a good bit of talent.  Bowling Green has dominated their first two opponents but I do not think they will be ready for a team that is capable of going blow for blow with their offense.  I will however say that I am very concerned about the 10 am start.  If there is ever a situation that demands a quick, productive start then this is it.

Cowboys 45 -Falcons 35

Chad- Chris may be buying the Cowboys but right now I am in a holding pattern. Yes, the offense looks much improved and more balanced due to offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon and quarterback Brett Smith but there are too many questions yet still to be answered for the Pokes. Can they play a complete game on the road with so many new and inexperienced players? Based on what I’ve seen so far the answer is no so that gives me no choice but to pick Bowling Green based on their home field advantage. This will be a close game and the Cowboys can win if they limit their turnovers and mistakes but again I don’t see that happening on Saturday.

Falcons 31-Cowboys 24

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Topics: Bowling Green, Brett Smith, Brian Schmiedebusch, Chris McNeill, Cowboys, Daniel Sullivan, Dave Christensen, Dave Clawson, Dominic Rufran, Eugene Cooper, Falcons, Football, Gregg Brandon, Marqueston Huff, Matt Schilz, Robert Herron, Stewart Williams, Tashaun Gibson, Wyoming

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