Well, the time has come. The calendar has flipped to August, meaning college football will arrive later this month — sooner than you think, but certainly not soon enough.
Wyoming will open the season Aug. 25 in Week 0, traveling to New Mexico State to battle the Aggies fresh off their best season in more than half a century. With that game just on the horizon, here are a few bold predictions for the Pokes’ season.
1. Wyoming will break its power five struggles.
Wyoming plays a pair of power five schools this season. The Pokes home opener pits them against Washington State and the week after sees UW travel to Missouri. Now, both the Cougars and Tigers went bowling last season, so it won’t be easy. Wyoming has lost 12 in a row against power five teams. With that being said, whether it’s Washington State, which will be breaking in a new quarterback, or Missouri, sleeping on the Pokes, Wyoming will win its first game over a power five team since 2008 when it won at Tennessee.
2. Wyoming’s defense will create more turnovers than last year.
No team could even challenge Wyoming in the turnovers-forced category last season. The Pokes created 38 turnovers — 2.9 per-game average — six clear of the next-best team. UW returns a lion’s share of its defense, and head coach Craig Bohl has already said defensive end Carl Granderson is bigger and stronger this fall. How could that even be possible? Teams beware and hold onto the ball tight because the boys in brown and gold are hunting.
3. (Insert name here) will lead UW in rushing.
Trey Woods and Kellen Overstreet shared carries last season. Woods gained 493 yards on 142 carries, while Overstreet had 481 yards on 109 carries. Neither running back was a stud or all that effective. I don’t think either will lead the Pokes in rushing in 2018. As to who the leading rusher at season’s end will be, your guess is as good as mine.
4. The 2018 defense will produce six NFL draftees.
Wyoming’s defense is absolutely loaded, and six of the players off this year’s defense will hear their named called in either the 2019 or 2020 NFL Draft. Granderson will go in the first round of the 2019 draft — book it. Defensive lineman Youhanna Ghaifan can leave after this season, his redshirt junior year, and he’d go in one of the first two rounds. Andrew Wingard is a bruising free safety that will carve his way into the middle rounds. Logan Wilson, another redshirt junior, is a smart and instinctive linebacker that will also go in the middle rounds. Strong Safety Marcus Epps and junior nickelback Tyler Hall have the skill sets to work their way into the sixth or seventh rounds. Enjoy this year’s defense, folks; it’s going to be fun.
5. Wyoming will win the Mountain Division.
Wyoming’s schedule sets up advantageously for a run at a division crown. The Pokes get Boise State at home after a bye week. The Broncos, led by quarterback Brett Rypien, are the odds-on favorite to represent the Mountain Division in the conference championship. But Wyoming’s defense, coupled with a September kickoff that should draw a decent crowd, will make for an upset. The Pokes also get Utah State — a team that returns a boatload of contributors from last year — at home, and their toughest road game within the division is at Colorado State.