Wyoming/New Mexico Game

Wyoming Cowboys fullback Drew Van Maanen (36) talks with a fan from the sidelines during their game against the New Mexico Lobos at War Memorial Stadium Saturday evening, Oct. 28, 2017.

Josh Galemore, Star-Tribune

LARAMIE — The circumstances surrounding Wyoming football’s 2017 bowl game are not quite as ideal as they were a year ago.

Instead of coming off a conference championship appearance, the Cowboys are on the heels of a loss to one of the worst teams in all of the Football Bowl Subdivision. Star quarterback Josh Allen has an injured throwing shoulder, creating uncertainty as to whether he has thrown his last pass as a Cowboy. And instead of heading to sunny San Diego, Wyoming will go to a cold-weather venue where it has already played once this season.

Still, the Cowboys hope to make the most of their trip to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

“(Head coach Craig) Bohl made a really good statement for us that this is something that we need to be excited about, that we need to enjoy,” senior fullback Drew Van Maanen said in a Sunday teleconference. “And I think that that’s something that our guys are definitely doing. Just getting around the guys, whether it be a light practice or lifting, you can just see that the guys are happy to be out there, for this season to be continued and not be over.

“... It’s a special moment. It’s a special time, so it’s just something that you need to cherish and enjoy.”

Wyoming will face the Central Michigan Chippewas in the Dec. 22 bowl, it was announced Sunday. The bowl is played at Boise State’s Albertsons Stadium, where Wyoming lost to the Broncos back in October.

“Selling tickets to Boise isn’t going to be as easy as selling tickets to San Diego,” Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman said. “So, we’ve got a lot of work to do, but we have great fans, and the fanbase hopefully understands that we’ve got 125,000 dollars worth of tickets we have to sell at 50 dollars apiece. That comes out to 2,500 tickets we’ve got to move through our ticket office. That’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a great challenge. But our people are amazing.

“... We’re going to have a good crowd there. I’m very confident of that. It’s a different sell than San Diego, but it’s no less. Hopefully, people are going to watch the Wyoming Cowboys.”

Burman declined that the status of Allen, who is considered to be a potential first-rounder in the upcoming NFL Draft, affected bowls’ interest in Wyoming.

“No, not at all,” Burman said.

Wyoming has gone 0-2 in games Allen has not started this season, most recently losing at San Jose State, a team that previously had not beaten an FBS opponent. Allen has not yet declared for the 2018 draft, but head coach Craig Bohl said he does not expect Allen back for his senior season.

This is the first time since 1987-88 that Wyoming has reached a bowl game in consecutive seasons.

“I want us to be in the hunt for bowl games every season, and I want us to compete for championships,” Burman said. “And obviously, in year four, Coach Bohl, his staff and the young men in this program have turned that corner.

“We’re not far away from putting rings on fingers and being Mountain West Conference champions.”

Last season, Wyoming followed its Mountain West Football Championship Game loss to San Diego State with an appearance in the Poinsettia Bowl, which has since ceased operations, in San Diego.

The Cowboys’ loss to BYU came in their first bowl appearance since 2011. Now, the Cowboys hope the next step is winning a bowl game — especially for those whose college career is down to one game.

“It’s an emotional thing, knowing that this is my last game here for the university, and for some of the other seniors,” said Van Maanen, a team captain. “But I’m excited. Any time I get to put those pads on with my brothers, there’s no feeling like that. I’m just going to cherish every moment. Every practice we have. Every film session we have, meals and lifting. I’m just really going to cherish these last few weeks, because my time is winding down here.

“I’m excited. Yeah, the emotions definitely kick in and that sadness of this part of my life coming to a closure, but I’m going to look forward to it and enjoy this last little bit.”

Follow University of Wyoming athletics reporter Brandon Foster on Twitter @BFoster91

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Brandon Foster reports on University of Wyoming athletics. He joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 after graduating from the University of Missouri and covering Mizzou athletics for two years. A St. Louis native, he lives in Laramie.

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