1 Best against worst
Saturday’s game pits the best scoring defense in the Mountain West against the conference’s worst scoring offense. Fresno State is limiting opponents to just 15.6 points per game, which ranks ninth nationally, while Wyoming is scoring just 17.5 points each time out. The Bulldogs were the stingiest they’ve been all season last week in a 21-3 win over Nevada, keeping an opponent out of the end zone for the first time since last October. Meanwhile, Wyoming is averaging 13.5 points in conference play with its offense scoring just two touchdowns in its last six quarters.
Coming off back-to-back losses to open its MW schedule, Wyoming will be trying to avoid the kind of losing streak it hasn’t experienced in years. The Cowboys haven’t lost three straight games since ending the 2016 season with three straight setbacks and haven’t lost three consecutive conference games since losing four in a row from Oct. 21-Nov. 14, 2015. That’s the last time Wyoming had a losing season.
Fresno State has proven to be one of the best teams in the country at taking the ball away. The Bulldogs have forced 16 turnovers, which is tied for third-most in the FBS. Fresno State has recovered five fumbles and racked up 11 interceptions, second-most in the country. Seven different Bulldogs have recorded an interception. Meanwhile, Wyoming has been one of the nation’s best teams at holding on to the ball with just four turnovers, sixth-fewest in the country.
Tyler Vander Waal will return to California for the first time as Wyoming’s starting quarterback. An Elk Grove, California, native, Vander Waal played his high school ball at Christian Brothers, where he led CB to the Sac-Joaquin Division III sectional championship game as a senior. He was a three-star recruit in the Cowboys’ 2017 signing class and was also recruited by Cal, Washington State, Colorado, Boise State and Colorado State among others.
Wyoming is looking for a different outcome in the Golden State than it’s gotten in recent years. The Cowboys are winless in their last four trips to California, which includes a 24-21 loss to BYU in San Diego in the Poinsettia Bowl in 2016. The last time Wyoming came away with a win in California? Its latest trip to Fresno — a 45-17 victory over the Bulldogs in 2014. Repeating that kind of performance won’t be easy, not only because Wyoming’s offense hasn’t come close to scoring at that level but also because Fresno State has won seven of its last eight games at home, including four in a row.
Fresno State and Wyoming have had a relatively even history on the football field with the Bulldogs holding a slim 6-5 lead in the all-time series, though Fresno has the momentum. The Bulldogs have won three of the last four meetings, including a 13-7 victory last season in Laramie. The lone win for the Cowboys during that span came during their most recent trip to Fresno in 2014, a 45-17 rout. Those have been common recently with three of the last five meetings being decided by at least two touchdowns.