COLUMBIA, Mo. — The fact that Craig Bohl likely will be hearing the Missouri fight song in his sleep is more for literal reasons than because of nightmares about Saturday’s game. The Wyoming head coach’s postgame news conference was barely audible over the sound of Marching Mizzou playing a postgame show right around the corner.
Prior to that, Bohl’s Cowboys had taken a 40-13 beating from the Tigers. It wasn’t pretty, and Bohl wasn’t thrilled about losing a second consecutive game. But it seemed clear that the previous week’s game, a 41-19 loss to Washington State in Laramie, was ceded in a more frustrating fashion: The Cowboys shot themselves in the foot with more than 100 yards in penalties and were unable to hold onto a third-quarter lead.
Saturday night, Missouri just plain won. There were things Wyoming could’ve done better, no doubt, but by the end of Missouri’s string of five consecutive touchdowns it was clear that the Pokes’ best shot at knocking off of a Power Five team had come a week earlier.
“Missouri’s got a really good football team,” Bohl said in his presser, “And we knew that coming in. I think (Missouri head coach Barry) Odom’s done a great job. He was benevolent tonight. He could’ve probably hammered us a little bit more, and he slowed the clock down.
“What I think was a little more satisfying” than last week, he continued, “was we got physically beat up a little bit tonight, but there was no lack of composure, doing things that were just self-inflicted wounds. We went out and battled for some balls, and they made plays. We didn’t. There are certainly some things that we can clean up, but I was pleased with how our guys — now, really disappointed we didn’t win — but I was pleased with how our guys stayed in the fight. I was much more frustrated last week as far as just our lack of discipline. I thought we were a more disciplined football team tonight.”
Moral victories can only be so comforting, but the Cowboys received just three penalties for 17 yards, while Missouri had eight for 79 yards. And the Cowboys’ offense finished strong in some regards. All 13 of Wyoming’s points came in the second half, though the Pokes were still outscored in every quarter. Of Tyler Vander Waal’s 160 passing yards, 113 came in the second half.
“What it was important for our players to do was keep on battling,” Bohl said, “so there were some positive things to glean from that.”
The defense, though, allowed 24 second-half points, one week after allowing 28 after halftime to the Cougars.
“We haven’t finished,” safety Andrew Wingard said. “We’ve been terrible in the second halves. We haven’t finished. That’s what happened tonight and last week, too.”
More than two-thirds of the points Wyoming has allowed this season have come after halftime.
Wingard led all players with 12 total tackles, 11 of which were solo. He is now third all-time at Wyoming with 387 tackles, passing safety John Salley (379).
Cassh Maluia had seven solo tackles and two of Wyoming’s three tackles for loss in his return from a one-game suspension.
While sophomore right tackle Alonzo Velazquez (knee) made his first start of the season in place of freshman Rudy Stofer, the Cowboys still started three freshmen on the offensive line. Freshman Eric Abojei started at left guard. He had been named a starter out of spring camp but suffered a concussion early in fall camp. Freshman Keegan Cryder moved from left to right guard, taking the place of senior Kaden Jackson. Freshman Patrick Arnold started again at center. Jackson was healthy according to UW, but Bohl said it was a “last-minute decision.”
“Eric’s a good player,” he said. “Get him some playing time.”
Along with Abojei, true freshman running back Jevon Bigelow made his first career start, rushing for a career-high 56 yards with a touchdown and a fumble.
Sophomore defensive tackle Javaree Jackson traveled to the game and dressed for the first time this season. He had suffered a bulged disc in his lower back in spring camp that was at one point ruled season-ending. In fall camp, though, Jackson said he thought he could be back by late September. He did not appear in the game’s participation report.