Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen tossed three first-quarter touchdown passes Friday as the Cowboys rolled to a 37-14 victory over Central Michigan in the 2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho.
Allen, a potential early selection in the 2018 NFL draft, connected on 11 of his 19 passes for 154 yards with no interceptions. Wide receiver C.J. Johnson caught three of those throws for a team-leading 63 receiving yards and a score.
The Chippewas' mistake-prone offense couldn't keep pace. Quarterback Shane Morris tallied 329 yards with one touchdown and four picks, while the rushing attack finished with only 18 yards on 27 attempts. Central Michigan turned the ball over eight times.
Brandon Foster of the Casper Star-Tribune noted Allen was named the game's Most Valuable Player and officially declared for the draft during the trophy ceremony:
His strong showing comes at a perfect time since he'll skip his senior season. His numbers were down in 2017—he posted a 56.2 percent completion rate with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions in 10 games—and he missed the last two contests with a shoulder injury.
The 21-year-old California native told reporters there was never any thought of skipping the bowl game as long as his throwing shoulder healed in time:
"It was never a thought to sit out voluntarily. I'm not that type of guy. I want to play. This is the team I've been on the last three and a half years. I owe a lot to coach [Craig] Bohl for extending me an offer to play at the University of Wyoming. I feel like I owe it to my teammates. Missing the last two games killed me. Getting back on the field was something I really felt I needed to do."
Friday's results prove he made the right decision. He showcased the high-end arm talent that's kept him in the conversation with Josh Rosen (UCLA), Sam Darnold (USC), Lamar Jackson (Louisville) and Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) as the possible top quarterback in a deep class despite his lackluster stats.
Allen's three touchdown throws in the first 14 minutes showed off his wide range of skill.
His 23-yard strike to Jared Scott displayed his arm strength into a tight window:
An 11-yard connection with Austin Conway showcased his mobility and his ability to throw on the run:
Finally, he proved he can beat a secondary over the top with a 45-yard bomb to Johnson:
While NFL talent evaluators may question where those types of throws were all season, Allen provided plenty of highlights to show why he emerged as a coveted prospect during his breakout 2016 campaign.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller summed it up simply:
Denver Broncos general manager John Elway was among the NFL front-office members in attendance Friday, per Alex Corddry of ESPN.
The game otherwise featured few highlights or talking points. Central Michigan's mind-boggling turnover total prevented the clash from becoming competitive.
Jonathan Ward was one of the lone bright spots for the Chippewas with seven grabs for 109 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown.
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Looking ahead, Allen's choice to declare for the draft comes as no surprise. His stock should regain most of the value it might have lost during an otherwise mundane season after a much-needed effective outing to close the year.
Where he'll land in the league depends on how well he performs during the predraft process. As mentioned, if the top underclassmen head for the NFL, it should be a good year for quarterbacks, so the Wyoming signal-caller will be under the microscope in the coming months.
Meanwhile, his exit will leave a massive void for the Cowboys, who finished with sub-.500 records in four straight seasons before Allen took over under center. Nick Smith, who failed to impress while the starter recovered from injury, will need to prove himself as a senior in 2018.
Although Central Michigan's season ends on a low note, the Chippewas have qualified for a bowl game in four consecutive years. Like Wyoming, their main offseason task will be finding a new quarterback with Morris, who started his college career at Michigan, set to graduate.