Another fantastic finish?
Both teams are coming off dramatic comeback victories to open the season. Wyoming needed a one-handed touchdown catch by tight end Treyton Welch with 47 seconds left and a defensive stand in the closing seconds to outlast Montana State, 19-16, at War Memorial Stadium. Northern Illinois stunned Georgia Tech, 22-21, with a late touchdown and 2-point conversion in Atlanta. This is expected to be another close game between the two programs that played a wild three-overtime game in 2016. Josh Allen’s diving touchdown capped the Cowboys’ 40-34 triumph over the Huskies in Laramie.
Homecoming parade for Valladay
Xazavian Valladay, who is from Matteson, Illinois, will have about 40 family members and friends in attendance Saturday at Huskie Stadium in DeKalb. UW head coach Craig Bohl wants to give them something to cheer about. After a lackluster performance by the offensive line against Montana State, the Cowboys will try to reestablish the dominant running game that defines the Bohl era. Valladay had a respectable 77 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown on 19 carries (4.1 yards per carry) against the Bobcats, but the rest of the team combined for 74 net yards on 24 attempts (3.1 ypc).
Redemption song, second verse
UW quarterback Sean Chambers finished off his emotional return to the field from last year’s devastating leg injury by throwing the winning touchdown pass to Welch. NIU, which finished 0-6 last season, also enjoyed a fresh start with Michigan State transfer quarterback Rocky Lombardi throwing the game-winning touchdown pass and 2-point conversion against Georgia Tech. Both the Cowboys and Huskies have strong running games. The game will likely come down to which quarterback comes through in the clutch to get his team to 2-0.
NFL scouts are starting to show up at War Memorial Stadium and UW’s practices to get a closer look at Chad Muma. The Cowboys’ standout linebacker, who was third nationally in tackles per game (11.8) last season, led the team with 11.0 tackles, a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal against Montana State. Muma will have to continue to make tackles to help UW slow down NIU running back Harrison Waylee, who shredded Georgia Tech’s defense for 144 yards on the ground.
Pokes have a leg(s) up
UW punter Ralph Fawaz controlled the field position in the opener by placing five punts inside the Montana State 20-yard line, and 2020 freshman all-American John Hoyland made both of his field goals in the three-point win over the Bobcats. There is some concern about the long snapping spot, which was an area of emphasis in practice this week, but the Cowboys have a lot of confidence in their kicking game. Meanwhile, NIU placekicker John Richardson did not attempt a field goal, and punter Matt Ference averaged 41.0 yards on seven attempts with no punts placed inside the Georgia Tech 20-yard line.