Freshman Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith has led the Cowboys to a 2-0 record this season. Wyoming is 10th in the nation in yards per game (540.5 per game) and will pose a challenge to Bowling Green’s defense.
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BOWLING GREEN — The University of Wyoming football team will enter Doyt Perry Stadium Saturday with a 2-0 mark, just one year after posting a losing record.
So will Bowling Green.
The Cowboys feature an attack that ranks among the national leaders in total offense and scoring.
So do the Falcons.
Truth be told, the two teams that will collide starting at noon have more similarities than differences.
The biggest similarity is the two offenses. Although they use different styles — Wyoming runs a spread, BG runs from multiple formations — the results are eerily alike.
The Cowboys rank 10th among BCS schools with their average of 540.5 yards per game, and the Falcons are next at 525.0 yard/game.
"They are a tricky offense that likes to move the ball around the field," BG sophomore BooBoo Gates said of Wyoming. "We need to get lined up and play our [style] of football, not their football.
"We’re expecting a lot of trick plays from them."
Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson said the key for his team’s defense will be to execute assignments correctly.
"Offensively they are very explosive," he said. "Schematically they like to get the ball into space, and they have some good pass concepts and some good run concepts.
"They do a lot of different things, so it’s going to be very important that we play assignment-correct football this week. One breakdown could become an 80-yard pass over our head."
One reason for the Cowboys’ early success has been the fine play of true freshman quarterback Brett Smith. After enrolling at Wyoming in January, Smith won the starter’s job and has completed 43-of-72 passes (59.7 percent) for 530 yards and four touchdowns.
"For being a true freshman, he understands their system very well," Clawson said of Smith. "The kid is very impressive: he has a nice arm, he’s very athletic, and he makes plays with his feet.
"Some quarterbacks have an ‘It’ factor, and Brett Smith appears to have it. His first football game, he had a fourth-and-11 with a minute left, and he eventually threw a game-winning touchdown with 20-some seconds left."
Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said he has been impressed with the Falcons’ offense.
"They are executing at a high level," he said of BG. "In their first two games, they have done everything well offensively.
"We know we can’t have any blown assignments, and we need to keep everything in front of us We need to do what we do every week: stop the other team’s running game and put pressure on the quarterback."
FAMILIAR FACES: Wyoming offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon, who coached at BG for eight seasons, isn’t the only familiar face on the Cowboys’ sideline.
Christensen is a former assistant coach at the University of Toledo under Gary Pinkel, while Wyoming assistant coach Jim Harding is a Maumee High School grad who played under Christensen at UT.
Christensen said his program’s 45-16 loss to the Falcons in 2008 — the year before he became coach — is only one reason he doesn’t expect his team to be overconfident.
"My last two experiences against Bowling Green weren’t very good," he said, noting that Missouri lost to the Falcons in both 2001 and ‘02. "I respect their program and the [Mid-American Conference].
"We know Bowling Green is every bit as good as teams in the Mountain West Conference. This will be a huge challenge for us."
GOOD MORNING: Saturday’s noon kickoff translates into a 10 a.m. Mountain start for the Cowboys, who are based in Cheyenne, Wy.
Neither coach feels that early start will be an advantage for the Falcons.
"We practiced at 6 a.m. [Thursday], and we practice in the morning again [Friday]," Christensen said. "When we play on Saturday, it will feel as if we’re sleeping in."
Clawson said it’s a situation all teams face at some point.
"It’s like when we played at Idaho, because at the end [of the game] it was midnight [Eastern time]," he said. "I don’t think that’s a big advantage."
3 BG players cited
Three members of the Falcon football team — redshirt freshmen Nick McKnight and D.J. Lynch along with Gates — were issued misdemeanor citations for criminal trespassing by BGSU Police Thursday night for being in a residence hall unescorted.
The incident is still under investigation. All three men will go through the University’s student conduct process.
The athletic department has suspended McKnight indefinitely from the football program for multiple violations of team rules. While the school did not disclose the previous violations, McKnight was cited by Bowling Green police in June for underage alcohol consumption and open container. He is schedule to appear in Municipal Court Monday to face those charges.
Lynch and Gates, whom the school said would be disciplined by the team, are expected to be available for Saturday’s game.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.