Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
SOS to Date: 3.0, Best win: Colorado
Speed Bumps Ahead: at SMU (Jan. 2), San Diego State (Jan. 19), at UNLV (Jan. 24)
Like a couple of the other teams earlier in this piece, it’s OK to be skeptical about Wyoming.
Thus far, the Cowboys’ schedule has consisted of predominantly home games, many of which have been against either teams near the bottom of Division I—or not in D-I at all. Such examples would include North Carolina Central, Cal State-Bakersfield and the perennial power Panhandle State, a D-II team.
That’s often the norm for schools like Wyoming, which due to its combination of conference and geography has a tough time getting an abundance of quality power-conference—or even quality mid-major—teams on its schedule.
However, thanks to its neighbors to the south, and a quality draw in an inter-conference challenge, the Cowboys have a couple points of evidence to show they should perhaps be taken more seriously.
Wyoming earned back-to-back wins over Colorado and Illinois State, respectively, in early December. The win over the Buffaloes—then undefeated and ranked No. 19—was one of the biggest for the Cowboys since they beat Gonzaga in the 2002 NCAA tournament.
Following that win, Wyoming made sure to disprove any notions that it could only beat decent teams on its home court. The Cowboys went on the road and took care off an Illinois State team that many believe can hang with Creighton and Wichita State in the MVC.
With those two key wins in tow, and its undefeated mark still intact, Wyoming has a couple weeks to catch its breath before MWC play begins, with only two home games against Denver and UC-Santa Barbara left in December.
However, there is one game in between those and the start of league play that could prove to be tricky—a trip to Dallas to face SMU. In his first year there, Larry Brown has the Mustangs off to a solid 6-1 start, though most of their schedule has been against mediocre competition.
The winner of that game should further its case to be taken seriously this season. If Wyoming can come back from that trip still unbeaten, it opens conference play at home against Boise State. That will be followed by a pair of road games against MWC-newcomers Nevada and Fresno State. Should it survive all three of those, UNLV and San Diego State lurk around the corner.
In a conference with absolutely no pushovers—and a bunch of teams who play particularly well at home—it could be pretty tough for Wyoming to go too deep into their MWC slate before suffering a setback.
That doesn’t mean the Cowboys still can’t be a very dangerous team this year, however.
First Loss: Jan. 12, at Nevada