The Wyoming football team began the season with a simple mantra: one team, one goal.
Now that the team has accomplished that original objective, the Cowboys are on to bigger and better things.
UW’s 31-10 victory over New Mexico at War Memorial Stadium on Saturday earned the Cowboys bowl eligibility, but the Cowboys are dreaming bigger with a pair of regular-season games remaining on the schedule and second place in the Mountain West up for grabs this week.
“All the seniors, we came up with the slogan ‘one team, one goal,’ and playing in the postseason was that goal,” senior wide receiver Mazi Ogbonna said. “It was just for us to come together as a team ... as the UW Cowboys coming together as a collective unit.
“[But] we’re not satisfied with this.”
The victory over the Lobos moved the Pokes to 4-1 in league play, ensuring their first winning conference season since 2006.
But they still have plenty more to play for.
First, with five MW teams likely earning bowl eligibility and just four bowl tie-ins, the Pokes could use all the victories they can get to bolster their chances of an invite.
They’ll finish out the season with a game at Colorado State. The Border War creates enough motivation as it is.
And this week the Cowboys travel to play nationally ranked Boise State. The winner will almost certainly finish second in the conference standings.
“It’s fine to be bowl-eligible, but you’ve still got two weeks of football left,” UW coach Dave Christensen said. “I asked [the players], I said, ‘Now, are we all satisfied because this is what we wanted?’ There wasn’t one guy in that locker room that’s satisfied.”
The Cowboys won on Saturday in somewhat similar fashion to how they’ve won all season long.
They’ve never been the prettiest team, but they’ve made plays in the clutch, the Pokes’ defense rose to the occasion in the second half and true freshman quarterback Brett Smith dazzled again. The rookie posted another 200-yard passing outing and his first 100-yard rushing effort, thanks to a game-sealing 69-yard touchdown burst.
“We have good leadership,” Christensen said. “I can’t sit here and tell you I knew all these freshmen were going to come in and play and do as well as they’re doing for us, but I knew that the base of this football team was very dedicated.
“These guys come to work every day, they work hard at practice, they execute and we push them. They’re bought in.”
Now they have more to play for late in the season than nearly anyone outside of the program expected.