Wyoming Cowboys eager for return after cancellations

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Posted at 8:52 AM, Nov 24, 2020

(Editor's note: UW Athletics release)

LARAMIE, Wyo. - The Wyoming-UNLV football series has been one of the closest and most thrilling series in the Mountain West Conference, including the highest scoring game in league history, four overtime battles and 14 of 24 previous meetings being decided by eight points or less.

This Friday at 2 p.m., M.T., will be the 25th meeting in the series and the first to be played in Las Vegas’ new Allegiant Stadium. The game will be broadcast on radio over the Cowboy Sports Network, beginning with the pregame show at 12:30 p.m, M.T. The game will be televised live on FS1.

Wyoming has had its last two games cancelled due to COVID-19 issues within the football programs at Air Force and Utah State. The last time the Cowboys played was on Thursday, Nov. 5 at Colorado State. The Pokes enter this Friday’s game with a 1-2 record this season. UNLV is currently 0-4 on the year.

Close and Thrilling Series

The last time the Cowboys and Rebels played in Las Vegas was the 2016 season. That game resulted in the highest scoring game in Mountain West history. The two teams combined for 135 total points before UNLV won in triple overtime by a score of 69-66. But it was the Cowboys who went on to win the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference and earn the right to host the 2016 MW Championship Game as the highest ranked team in the conference.

Since the series began back in 1978, there have been 14 of the previous 24 games decided by one score (eight points or less), including nine of the 12 total games played in Las Vegas being decided by eight points or less.

Series Record

Wyoming leads the overall series 13 to 11. Since 1999, the two teams have played as members of the Mountain West Conference. Here is a breakdown of the series.

∙Wyoming leads the overall series 13-11

∙Wyoming leads the Mountain West series 9-8

∙UW’s Record vs. UNLV in Laramie 8-4

∙UW’s Record vs. UNLV in Las Vegas 5-7

Overtime Games Have Been a Big Part of the Cowboy-Rebel Series -- All Four OT Games Played in Vegas

The Wyoming Cowboys and UNLV Rebels have played four overtime games in the history of their series. All four of those overtime games have been played in Las Vegas. The two teams have each won two and lost two of those OT contests.

Wyoming has played more OT games against UNLV than the Pokes have played against any other opponent. The only other opponents that Wyoming has played multiple OT games against are Hawai’i (2 games) and Nevada (2 games).

Overtime games between the Cowboys and Rebels:

Date Result

Oct. 17, 1998 at UNLV, Wyoming won 28-25 (1ot)

Nov. 2, 2002 at UNLV, UNLV won 49-48 (1ot)

Nov. 6, 2004 at UNLV, Wyoming won 53-45 (3ot)

Nov. 12, 2016 at UNLV, UNLV won 69-66 (3ot)

Two of the Mountain West’s Best

Friday’s game will feature two of the best running backs in the Mountain West. Wyoming’s Xazavian Valladay and UNLV’s Charles Williams were the two running backs named to the 2019 First Team All-Mountain West team.

This season, Valladay leads the league and ranks No. 8 in the nation in rushing, averaging 132.3 rushing yards per game. Williams currently ranks No. 5 in the Mountain West, averaging 80.8 rushing yards per game.

The pair were also selected by conference media members as the two running backs on the 2020 Preseason All-Conference team.

Leader of the Cowboy Defense

Wyoming junior middle linebacker Chad Muma enters this week ranked No. 2 in the Mountain West and No. 6 in the nation in tackles for the 2020 season, averaging 12.7 tackles per game. The team captain also ranks no. 24 in the nation in solo tackles, making an average of 5.7 solo tackles per outing.

UNLV First-Year Head Coach Marcus Arroyo a Former Cowboy Assistant

First-year UNLV head coach Marcus Arroyo also has ties to the Wyoming Cowboys. Arroyo served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Wyoming Cowboys for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Since leaving Wyoming, Arroyo has been an assistant coach at California, Southern Mississippi, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oklahoma State and Oregon.

Explosive Plays

The Wyoming offense has created a number of explosive plays of 10 yards or more during the 2020 season. The Cowboys have had 21 running plays of 10 yards or more for a total of 318 yards and 25 pass plays of 10 yards or more for a total of 572 yards.

Combined the UW offense has had 46 explosive plays for 890 yards. That 890 yards of explosive plays accounts for 73.0 percent of Wyoming’s 1,219 total yards on the season.

Passing Game Improving for Pokes in 2020

The Wyoming Cowboys entered this season hoping to improve their passing game to complement a very potent rushing attack. Through the first three games of the season, that hope is becoming a reality.

Wyoming is averaging 222.0 passing yards per game in 2020 to go with 184.3 rushing yards per game. That compares to 2019 when UW averaged 136.2 passing yards and 215.7 rushing yards per game.

The Cowboys’ total offense has also increased from a year ago. In 2020, UW is averaging 406.3 yards per game, while in 2019 Wyoming averaged 351.8.

Two Cowboy Receivers Have Posted 100-Yard Receiving Games in 2020

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Isaiah Neyor showed his talent in Wyoming’s season opener at Nevada, catching three passes for 102 yards. His three catches went for 45 yards, 34 and 23, averaging 34.0 yards per reception. That was Neyor’s first 100-yard receiving game. It was also the first time a Cowboy had recorded a 100-yard receiving game since tight end Tyree Mayfield caught four passes for 112 yards in a 35-28 home win over Air Force on Nov. 17, 2018.

In Week 3 of the season against Colorado State, senior wide receiver Ayden Eberhardt recorded the first 100-yard receiving game of his career with seven catches for 132 yards. He had five receptions of 10 yards or more, including catches of 12, 15, 17, 21 and 56.

Neyor Ranks No. 2 in the Nation in Yards per Reception

Cowboy wide receiver Neyor has been one of the most explosive receivers in the nation this season. He currently leads the MW and ranks No. 2 in the nation in receiving yards per catch (29.83 yards per reception).

The native of Fort Worth, Texas, has recorded five receiving plays of 10 or more yards this season.

Redshirt Freshman QB Levi Williams Records First 300-Yard Passing Game of Career

Cowboy quarterback Levi Williams recorded the first 300-yard passing game of his career in Wyoming’s 24-34 loss to Colorado State on Nov. 5.

Williams completed 19 of 31 passes for 321 yards against the Rams. His previous high passing game was 234 passing yards in Wyoming’s victory over Georgia State in the 2019 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. The Arizona Bowl was also Williams’ first career start.

Williams currently ranks No. 1 in the Mountain West and No. 12 in the nation in average passing yards per completion, averaging 15.0 yards per pass completion.

After Friday’s UNLV game, Wyoming is scheduled to play the New Mexico Lobos on Saturday, Dec. 5. New Mexico has been playing its home games in Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium, so the Cowboys could be traveling to Las Vegas two consecutive weeks.