LARAMIE – For the second consecutive week, the University of Wyoming football team will be traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada, for a game. For the first time ever, the Pokes will be playing long-time conference foe the New Mexico Lobos somewhere other than Albuquerque, New Mexico, or Laramie.
The game is New Mexico’s home game, and the Lobos are playing their home games in Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium as they are not able to play home games in the state of New Mexico due to COVID-19 restrictions in place in the state.
Saturday’s game is scheduled to kick off at 8:30 p.m. It will be broadcast live on radio over the Cowboy Sports Network, beginning with the pregame show at 7 p.m. The game will also be televised live on CBS Sports Network.
Wyoming is coming off a convincing 45-14 road win over UNLV last Saturday in the new Allegiant Stadium, home of the UNLV Rebels and Las Vegas Raiders of the NFL. Playing back-to-back road games in the same city is a first for Wyoming.
This week’s meeting will be the 73rd in the Wyoming-New Mexico series. The recent history has been marked by three-game winning streaks. Wyoming is currently on a three-game win streak (2017-19) over the Lobos. Prior to that, UNM won three in a row from 2014-16, and before that the Cowboys won three in a row from 2011-13.
— Wyoming leads the overall series 39-33
— Wyoming trails the Mountain West series 9-12
— UW’s record vs. New Mexico in Laramie 20-15
— UW’s record vs. New Mexico in Albuquerque 19-18
— UW’s record vs. New Mexico at Neutral Sites 0-0
Wyoming and New Mexico are meeting for the 22nd consecutive season since both became founding members of the Mountain West Conference in 1999. Prior to that, they were founding members of the Western Athletic Conference in 1962. Wyoming and New Mexico have been members of the same conference since 1951, when UNM joined Wyoming in the Skyline Conference.
Wyoming’s series with New Mexico ranks as the fourth longest series vs. any opponent for the Cowboys.
The team’s longest series of previous meetings include 112 games against Colorado State, 83 against Utah, 78 against Brigham Young, 72 against New Mexico and 70 against Utah State.
RUNNING THE BALL AND STOPPING THE RUN
The Cowboy rushing attack is averaging 238 rushing yards per game in 2020 to rank No. 13 in the nation in rushing offense. Wyoming’s rushing attack was also among the best in the nation in 2019. As a team, Wyoming averaged 214.8 rushing yards per game in 2019 to rank No. 2 in the Mountain West and No. 23 in the nation.
Xazavian Valladay is averaging 122.8 rushing yards per game in 2020 to lead the MW and rank No. 9 in the FBS. He averaged 105.4 yards rushing per game in 2019, which was also No. 1 in the MW and No. 18 in the nation.
Defensively, Wyoming is allowing opponents only 104.5 rushing yards per game in 2020 to rank No. 2 in the MW and No. 14 in the country. In 2019, the Cowboy defense ranked No. 11 in the FBS in rushing defense, allowing opponents only 107.1 rushing yards per outing.
Talking about running the ball, graduate transfer running back Trey Smith rushed for 164 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown against UNLV. It was his second career 100-yard game as a Cowboy and first of the season. He ended the night with five rushing plays of 10 or more yards.
Valladay ran for 94 yards before his night was ended in the first quarter due to an injury. Valladay broke a 78-yard touchdown run on Wyoming’s second play of the game to give the Pokes a lead they would never lose.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Levi Williams added 43 yards on eight carries, including three touchdown runs of 15, 1 and 1 yard.
Another redshirt freshman, running back Dawaiian McNeely, saw the first extensive action of his career, carrying the ball 13 times for 54 yards.
And sophomore running back Brett Brenton averaged an impressive 13.7 yards per carry on three carries. He ended the night with 41 rushing yards and scored Wyoming’s final touchdown on a 19-yard scamper into the end zone.
THE CAPTAIN CONTINUES STRONG PLAY
Wyoming co-captain and linebacker Chad Muma continued his strong play this season with another outstanding game at UNLV. College Sports Madness selected Muma as the MW Defensive Player of the Week for his performance in Wyoming’s win over the Rebels.
Muma led all tacklers in the Wyoming-UNLV game with 10 total tackles. He made a career high 3.5 tackles for loss for 26 yards and added a career-high three sacks for 25 yards. Muma was credited with six solo tackles and four assists on the day.
He was the leader of a Wyoming defense that held UNLV to only 14 points and limited UNLV to 290 yards of total offense (132 rushing yards and 158 passing yards) and only 19 first downs.
On the season, the junior from Lone Tree, Colorado, leads Wyoming in total tackles (49), solo tackles (23), assisted tackles (26), sacks (3.0 for 25 yards) and tackles for loss (6.0 for 32 yards). Muma is also tied for the team lead in fumbles recovered (1) and forced fumbles (1).
Muma is tied for No. 7 in the nation in tackles this season, averaging 12.0 tackles per game, and is tied for No. 21 in the country in solo tackles, averaging 5.8 solo tackles per game. He is also averaging 1.5 tackles for loss per game to tie for No. 24 in the NCAA.
Muma was also named to this week’s Pro Football Focus (PFF) Team of the Week. Muma was one of only two linebackers named to this week’s team by PFF. He joined linebacker Micah McFadden of Indiana in receiving this week’s honor.
Wyoming senior defensive end Garrett Crall and senior offensive guard Logan Harris both returned to the starting lineup last Saturday.
For Crall, it was his first game of the season after recovering from offseason foot surgery. The senior captain made his presence felt immediately as he was credited with five tackles, including four solo tackles — two tackles for loss, one sack and one pass breakup in the game.
Harris returned after missing the Colorado State game due to illness. He paved the way for the Wyoming rushing attack to amass 399 rushing yards to go with 99 passing yards and 498 yards of total offense versus the Rebels.
After Saturday’s New Mexico game, Wyoming is scheduled to host the Boise State Broncos in the final regular-season game of the season on Saturday, Dec. 12. That game will kick off at 4 p.m. from Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium.