Saturday’s Homecoming Game marks Cowboys’ first home game in a month; Wyoming in search of fifth consecutive home victory

Saturday’s Homecoming Game marks Cowboys’ first home game in a month; Wyoming in search of fifth consecutive home victory

LARAMIE – It has been a month since the Wyoming Cowboy football team has played a home game.  When the Cowboys kick off against San José State this Saturday at 2 p.m. they will be seeking their fifth consecutive home victory.  The Pokes enter this week with a 3-3 overall record this season and a 1-1 Mountain West Conference mark.  San José State is 2-3 overall, and is also 1-1 in conference play.

The Wyoming Cowboys have posted a 3-0 home record this season and won their final home game of the 2013 season.  The last time UW won five consecutive home games was at the end of the 2006 season and beginning of the 2007 season, winning six straight at home during that stretch.

Wyoming has been very adept at winning close games at home this season.  The Pokes defeated Montana by five points (17-12), won by four points over Air Force (17-13) and captured a one-point (20-19) victory over Florida Atlantic in its most recent home win.

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This week’s game versus San José State will mark the 90th Homecoming game in University of Wyoming history, and the 65th Homecoming game to be played in War Memorial Stadium.  Last season, Wyoming defeated New Mexico, 38-31, on Homecoming Day.  UW’s overall record in Homecoming games is 43-43-3 (.500).  The Cowboys’ Homecoming record in War Memorial Stadium stands at 38-24-2 (.609).

Wyoming and San José State will be playing each other for only the ninth time in history.  Wyoming leads the series with six wins against two losses.  Wyoming is 2-1 versus SJSU in games played in Laramie, Wyo.  San José State will be making its first trip to Laramie since the 1997 season, when Wyoming defeated the Spartans, 30-10, in War Memorial Stadium.

Despite the series between the two MW members being a brief one, there have been several thrilling games in the series.  Wyoming captured a 16-7 win in the Spartans’ first visit to Laramie back in the 1969 season.  Wyoming All-America place-kicker Bob Jacobs keyed the victory with field goals of 41, 43 and 41 yards.  In 1992, it was Spartan place-kicker Joe Nedney who stole the show as he knocked a 60-yard field goal through the north uprights with no time remaining on the clock to give SJSU a 26-24 win.

That kick still ranks as San José State’s longest field goal in school history and is the longest opponent field goal in Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium history.  The only longer field goal in the history of “The War” was a 62-yarder by Wyoming’s Dan Christopulos in 1977 to defeat Colorado State, 29-13.

The most recent wild finish between the Cowboys and Spartans took place last season on Oct. 26 in San Jose, Calif.  Wyoming was led by running back Shaun Wick, who rushed for 234 yards and one TD, and quarterback Brett Smith, who threw for 267 yards and three TDs.  Smith led the Pokes on an 11-play, 80-yard drive to tie the game at 44-44 with 5:17 remaining in the game.  But SJSU quarterback David Fales engineered a 12-play, 65-yard drive of his own on the Spartans’ final possession of the game to record a 51-44 win over the Cowboys in San José.

Fales threw for 482 yards and five touchdowns, and scored the winning TD on a one-yard quarterback sneak with only eight seconds left on the clock.  Wyoming accumulated 599 yards of total offense and SJSU ended with 642.

Wick’s 234 rushing yards versus the Spartans last season was his career high.  Since then, he has developed into one of the Mountain West’s and the nation’s best running backs.  Wick is averaging 101.7 yards rushing this season to rank No. 4 in the MW and No. 27 in the nation.  The junior ranks 18th in the nation in yards per carry, averaging 6.42 yards.  Wick is also quickly approaching Wyoming’s career Top 10 in rushing yards.  With 1,939 career rushing yards, he needs only 185 to catch Dabby Dawson for 10th place.

Leading the Cowboy defense through the first six games of the season has been senior linebacker Mark Nzeocha.  Nzeocha leads the Cowboys in tackles, ranks fifth in the Mountain West and 45th in the nation, averaging 9.2 tackles per game.

Saturday’s game will be televised live online by ESPN3. The game will be broadcast on radio over the 26 affiliates of the Cowboy Sports Network, beginning with the pregame show at 1 p.m.