No. 9 Nebraska makes first visit to Wyoming
When No. 9 Nebraska plays at Wyoming on Saturday, both teams are
approaching the game in the same business-as-usual manner, though
from completely different perspectives.
For Wyoming, Nebraska has stood out on the Cowboys’ schedule
since the game was announced in 2008 because hosting high-profile,
Top 10, non-conference teams are a rarity at War Memorial
”The town of Laramie and the state of Wyoming, they’ve been
getting ready for this game now for three years,” third-year coach
Dave Christensen said.
Wyoming players and coaches, however, are quick to point out
they aren’t doing anything special in preparation and are trying to
keep a matter-of-fact demeanor leading up to what many fans and the
school are calling the biggest home game in Wyoming’s football
”It’s another team,” Cowboys senior linebacker Brian Hendricks
said. ”We’re not going to change the way we prepare for
For Nebraska, it’s the Huskers’ first road game of the season
and last game before their highly anticipated first Big Ten
Conference matchup at Wisconsin the following week. However,
Nebraska players and coaches say they are taking the usual
”I don’t want to look forward to conference play when I have
these Wyoming Cowboys,” Nebraska receiver Kenny Bell said. ”This
is college football. You can see No. 1-ranked teams lose to
Both teams enter the contest undefeated after their first three
games. It is Wyoming’s first 3-0 start since 1996, although two of
its games this year were against FCS teams.
”We have to play our best game, probably a near perfect game,”
Despite being neighboring states, Nebraska and Wyoming have met
only five previous times with the Huskers winning each time – all
at home. The two teams last met in 1994 when Nebraska won 42-32 –
its second-closest game in that 13-0 national championship
Saturday’s game at Wyoming will be Nebraska’s first road game at
a non-BCS conference school since a 38-14 win in 2003 at Southern
The game pits two teams whose offenses have been the main reason
both are undefeated.
Nebraska is averaging 44.3 points a game, ranking it No. 13 in
the NCAA in scoring offense. It is the first time it has opened the
season with three straight games scoring 40-plus points since 1995,
when did so in the first four.
The Huskers are No. 11 in rushing offense with 252.3 yards a
game. Wyoming is averaging 36 points a game so far, ranking No. 35.
The Cowboys rank No. 20 in rushing offense at 226.7 yards a contest
and are 16th in total offense at 492.3 yards.
Cowboys freshman quarterback Brett Smith ranks No. 16 in total
offense with 310.7 yards per game, earning the admiration of
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini.
”He is tough, and I would say he is a winner,” Pelini
Huskers quarterback Taylor Martinez ranks No. 21 in total
offense at 291.3 yards a game.
”Obviously he’s an excellent football player, and we got to do
everything we can to minimize his big plays,” Christensen
Defensively, the two teams have given up chunks of yardage and
points to opponents. Nebraska has surrendered 24.7 points a game,
ranking it 66th in scoring defense, and 364.7 yards a contest, 67th
in the NCAA. Wyoming has given up 23 points (55th) and 414.7 yards
(94th) a game.
Pelini said he isn’t worried about his team looking ahead to the
Wisconsin game on Oct. 1.
”We keep our guys in the moment, and we do a good job of
that,” he said.
But try as he might not to look ahead at Wisconsin, Bell allowed
himself a glimpse of the Big Ten game when commenting about playing
on the road in a small stadium before heading to Madison.
”It’s important to get a taste of what it’s like to be on the
road,” he said. ”It’s hard to compare Wyoming, though, with a
place like Madison.”
Thanks to temporary seating being installed, about 32,500 people
are expected to pack War Memorial Stadium, which has a listed
capacity of just over 29,000. The listed capacity is the smallest
stadium Nebraska has played in since 1971 when the Huskers played
in front of 23,500 fans at Hawaii.
Bob Moen can be reached at www.twitter.com/bobmoen