It’s been a rough ride for Wyoming coach Craig Bohl. Determined to do it his way, Bohl (a three-time FCS champ and architect of the current North Dakota State reign in Division II) won six games in his first two years in Laramie but after taking his licks playing kids, his kids, the program has started to turn around. Last year’s 8-6 break out year came in large part to the emergence of rifle armed quarterback Josh Allen who could have entered the NFL draft last year and has gotten a lot of early hype this year. Last year, the Cowboys upset Boise State and San Diego State en route to going 6-2 in the Mountain West. Bohl, Allen, and 14 returning starters are looking for bigger and better things in 2017.
With the “retirement” of Bob Stoops, Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz (19th year) is now the longest tenured HC in college football. He’s 135-92 since taking the baton from Hayden Fry and has gone to 14 bowls. Iowa is almost always good but seemingly can’t get that one signature win that would put them over the top and into college football’s elite. The team often loses games it should win as in the case of last year when a loaded Hawkeye team lost to North Dakota State and Northwestern before giving up the ship in losses to Wisconsin and Penn State before getting slapped around by Florida in its bowl. They did beat Michigan to avert total disaster but there is no denying there is talent here every year.
Iowa leads the series 2-0 with wins in 1953 and 1987. The game will be televised on the Big Ten network and Direct TV channel 6
Last year the Cowboys started more underclassmen than any other team in college football, freshmen, and sophomores accounting for 56.2% of the team’s total starts. With Allen and 14 very experienced returning starters, Wyoming should see its patience pay dividends with another big year. Last year, Wyoming and Allen burst on to the scene with a triple-overtime win over Northern Illinois in a weather delayed game in Laramie. The following week, Allen committed six turnovers as the Cowboys were rolled 52-17 at Nebraska. It’s pretty clear that Wyoming goes the way Josh Allen goes but this year he’ll have a pretty good supporting cast.
Slow starts and inexplicable early losses have been an Iowa trademark for almost two decades. In the last five years alone, Iowa has lost in September to the likes of Central Michigan (-14.5), Northern Illinois, Iowa State (-13, multiple time in this in-state rivalry), North Dakota State (-14.5). Every one of these games was at home so to say that the Hawkeyes are on upset alert is an understatement. Iowa returns 14 starters including eight from a pretty good defense and most importantly, four offensive linemen that represent 80% of last year’s Joe Moore Award (given to the nation’s top offensive line) winners. Brian Ferentz (son) moves from OL line coach to OC and will likely have smashmouth on the menu for Hawkeye opponents in 2017.
This is a key game for both teams, Wyoming still has a tough nonconference home game with Oregon and Iowa looks to avoid the slow start that has plagued them in the past. The key to this game is whether or not Iowa can impose its will in the trenches. If the Hawkeyes can run the ball behind their big physical offensive line and a three-headed dragon of exceptional backs, Iowa will, in essence, be playing defense on offense and keeping their own pretty good stop unit fresh to get after Allen.
In the end, Iowa is the better team at home but can’t really trust the Hawkeyes to lay double-digit points and you would have to figure that Allen and the Cowboys will at least generate some points. This is a dicey number and our first inclination is to look at the under and follow the line movement.