LARAMIE — The road hasn’t been particularly kind to Wyoming under head coach Craig Bohl.
The Cowboys have won just one road game in Bohl’s three seasons, 45-17 at Fresno State in 2014.
So Wyoming’s first road game of the year is bound to be a measuring stick for the 1-0 Cowboys. Especially with that game being played at Nebraska (10 a.m. MDT, ESPN2).
“Well that’s always a test, particularly for young players, and then along with that, some of the veteran players,” Bohl said. “New routine, new plays, different climate. All those things.”
But there wasn’t anything routine about Wyoming’s Week 1 win against Northern Illinois, even if it was played at War Memorial Stadium. Kickoff was delayed nearly two hours by lightning and after four quarters and three overtimes, UW quarterback Josh Allen finally ended the game with a 7-yard touchdown run at 2:34 a.m.
“With all the rain delays and the type of game it was, those are things that really, they’re a testament to your focus and belief and determination to kind of block out what sometimes would be some distractions or some adversity,” Bohl said. “So, going on the road’s tough.”
But it’s not like the Cowboys haven’t had to adjust.
“I think it kind of shows them that nothing should ever faze us,” senior receiver Jake Maulhardt said of the NIU win. “You just have to stick to the plan and be ready to play no matter what comes your way.”
Not that Memorial Stadium will be a cakewalk. Wyoming is a relatively young team with a quarterback making his first road appearance in front of a crowd of 90,000.
Plus, the Cornhuskers are no strangers to adversity.
This summer, Nebraska’s punter, Sam Foltz, died in a car accident. The Huskers are honoring his memory in a number of ways this season, most prominently in last week’s win against Fresno State when Nebraska lined up for its first punt without a punter.
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Wide receivers coach Keith Williams is suspended the first four games of the year after being cited on suspicion of driving under the influence this summer. Receiver Brandon Reilly and safety Nate Gerry were suspended against Fresno State for violations of team rules. Reilly had been arrested in March for drunk driving.
Reilly and Gerry will both return Saturday to a Huskers team that scored 29 unanswered points to run away with a win in Week 1.
Nebraska threw just 13 passes but ran for 292 yards. On defense, the Huskers held the Bulldogs to just 31 yards on 26 rushing attempts.
That, combined with Nebraska’s homefield tradition and Wyoming’s 2-10 record last season, have many viewing the Cowboys as big underdogs in this game.
But Wyoming was an underdog last week, too — albeit on a smaller scale — and showed itself to be an improved team in each facet of the game.
“I mentioned to a staff member, I said, ‘We’re a better football team,’” Bohl said. “I saw better speed on defense and attention to detail, and I thought we were more athletic. I was concerned going into the game about if we were going to be physical enough. ... I thought we were in really good condition.”
That doesn’t mean playing on the road won’t give Wyoming trouble. Because for all the chaos of the season opener, Wyoming still did have an edge while waiting out the storm.
“We had our nice locker room, and they were in a tiny little visitor’s locker room,” Chase Roullier said. “So obviously when you’re at home, it’s easier to overcome things like that.
“But even just being able to overcome some adversity like that, I think it kind of sets us up well moving onto a hostile environment.”
Headed to a place like Memorial Stadium, they’ll take whatever advantage they can get.