LARAMIE — History will have to wait for Wyoming’s football program.
The Cowboys won their final four games to become bowl eligible for the third straight season, but Wyoming isn’t going bowling. The Cowboys weren’t selected as one of the 78 teams to be a part of this year’s bowl matchups, which were announced Sunday.
It’s the first year Wyoming won’t end its season in a bowl since 2015. The Cowboys have never played in three consecutive bowls in their 122-year history.
Wyoming was the only bowl-eligible team in the Mountain West to be left out. League champion Fresno State, which topped Boise State in overtime Saturday for its first Mountain West title since 2013, will meet Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Utah State will take on North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl, Nevada will head to the Arizona Bowl to face Arkansas State, and Hawaii will stay home against Louisiana Tech in the Hawaii Bowl.
BYU, which has an agreement with ESPN for a bowl spot whenever it’s eligible, will face Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl — one of the five bowls normally contracted for the Mountain West. Boise State will play Boston College in the First Responder Bowl while San Diego State will get Ohio in the Frisco Bowl.
The pool of contracted bowls in the Mountain West has shrunk in recent years. The league had a sixth tie-in with the Poinsettia Bowl before the game dissolved after the 2016 season and has not been able to find a replacement. The conference could get back to six contracted games when the next six-year bowl cycle begins following the 2019 season, and Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman recently told the Star-Tribune that getting back to that number will be a point of emphasis for the league in order to decrease the chances of bowl-eligible teams getting left out in the future.
But Wyoming had its chances to improve its resume for a bowl berth this season. The Cowboys led No. 13 Washington State 19-13 midway through the third quarter on Sept. 2 before being outscored 28-0 the rest of the way. There was also a 17-13 loss at Hawaii and a 24-16 loss to Utah State that dropped the Cowboys to 2-6.
The Cowboys started their winning streak with a 34-21 win at Colorado State on Oct. 26 and capped it with a 31-3 victory at New Mexico in their regular-season finale Nov. 24. Wyoming’s other three losses came against two teams that finished ranked in the College Football Playoff top 25 and Power Five foe Missouri, but with 82 bowl-eligible teams vying for those 78 spots, the Cowboys’ strength of schedule didn’t matter much.