LARAMIE -- Wyoming, along with the Mountain West Conference, announced Thursday the first full football schedule of 2024.

The opponents weren't a surprise. Neither was the destination.

Now we know the "when."

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Today, let's take a look at the non-conference portion of the upcoming season, which first includes a stop in the desert and a date with Arizona State to open up the Jay Sawvel era at Wyoming:

 

ARIZONA STATE - Aug. 31 - Sun Devil Stadium - Tempe, Ariz.

Is this the ideal place to open a college football season? Hardly. And that has little to do with the opponent.

Temperatures in the southwest desert in late August typically hover around 105. Let's hope this one kicks off around midnight.

Arizona State went 3-9 overall last season and closed out the campaign with a pair of lopsided losses to Oregon and Arizona, two teams that were in the Top 15. The Sun Devils' lone non-conference win came at home in the opener against Southern Utah. That was a three-point affair. Then, a six-game skid followed, including consecutive losses to Oklahoma State (27-15) and Fresno State (29-0).

The year also began with a self-imposed bowl ban thanks to a number of recruiting violations under then head coach Herm Edwards.

Per 247sports.com, ASU lost 18 players to the NCAA Transfer Portal this offseason, including two of the six quarterbacks it utilized in 2023, Drew Pyne and Jacob Conover.

Starting tight end Jalin Conyers has also jumped ship, landing at Texas Tech. He was second on the team with 30 grabs for 362 yards. Co-sack leader BJ Green is headed to Colorado. Five other starters announced they would forgo their final season at ASU and declare for the NFL Draft. Three of those players -- Ro Torrence, Demetries Ford and Chris Edmonds -- are defensive backs.

Safe to say Kenny Dillingham’s first season in Tempe was a disaster.

Wyoming and ASU have met 15 times. The Sun Devils own a 9-6 advantage in the series, which dates back to 1951. Remember, these two used to be rivals back in the early days of the Western Athletic Conference. The Pokes are 2-7 all-time in Tempe.

In fact, arguably the biggest win in UW history came against Danny White and No. 11 ASU back in 1972. The Cowboys, led by a four-touchdown day -- three rushing, one passing -- from quarterback Steve Cockreham, upset the visiting Sun Devils, 45-43.

ASU is entering its first season in the Big 12 Conference. After the Pokes pay a visit to town, the SEC's Mississippi State Bulldogs roll in. That's followed by back-to-back trips to the Lone Star State to take on Texas State and Texas Tech.

 

IDAHO - Sept. 7 - War Memorial Stadium - Laramie, Wyo.

The annual FCS game comes early this season.

The Cowboys and Vandals have met eight times. Wyoming holds a commanding 7-1 series lead and has won every game since the initial meeting back in 1921.

Idaho capped its 2023 campaign with a 9-4 record and finished second behind only Montana in the Big Sky Conference. Jason Eck's squad played a pair of games against FBS opponents last fall, knocking off Nevada 33-6 before falling at Cal, 31-17. The Vandals won five of their first six games before dropping a two-point heartbreaker to the Griz in mid-October.

After a loss to Albany in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs, Idaho lost three starters to the transfer portal, including First Team Big Sky QB Gevani McCoy, who threw for nearly 3,000 yards and added 15 touchdowns. The California product was awarded the Jerry Rice Award after the 2022 season. That is given to the FCS Freshman of the Year.

Running back Anthony Woods also left the program after rushing for 1,131 yards and 16 scores. Woods was also a First Team All-Conference selection. Marcus Harris, who led the Vandals with three interceptions last fall, was also a First-Teamer. He's also in the portal.

Ouch.

To make matters even worse, Idaho opens the season at Oregon before heading to Laramie.

Double ouch.

 

 

BYU - Sept. 14 - War Memorial Stadium - Laramie, Wyo.

Hello, old foe.

BYU, Wyoming's long-time hated rival, will pay its first visit to the high plains since 2009. You likely have this one circled or are still upset with Tom Burman for even agreeing to play this one in the first place. Either way, there's bound to be fireworks when these two meet up for maybe the final time ever.

The Cougars had a rough go of it during their first season in the Big 12. They finished 5-7 overall and only claimed conference wins over Cincinnati and Texas Tech, both in Provo. Away from home, Kalani Sitake's team capped the year 1-5.

BYU has lost a dozen players to college football's version of free agency, including the Daley brothers, John Henry and Michael, who transferred to Utah and Rice, respectively. Along with those defensive linemen, wide receivers Kade Moore and Dom Henry entered the portal. Three-star quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava also left the program.

Who will line up under center in Provo? That's not a question often asked when it comes to this program. They have options, including Jake Retzlaff, who threw for 648 yards, three touchdowns and the same number of interceptions last season. Transfers Gerry Bohanon (South Florida) and Treyson Bourget (Western Michigan) could also have a say in the matter.

Wyoming and BYU have played 79 times. The Cougars hold a 46-30-3 advantage in a series that dates all the way back to 1922. The Cowboys are 17-16-3 against this team inside War Memorial Stadium.

BYU takes on SMU in Dallas before heading to Laramie. The following week, Kansas State pays a visit to LaVell Edwards Stadium.

There's a lot of history and bad feelings in this one. Should be a sellout.

 

NORTH TEXAS - Sept. 21 - DATCU Stadium - Denton, Texas

This school is known for producing the likes of Meat Loaf, Maren Morris, Roy Orbison, Don Henley and Norah Jones.

If we were talking about a concert, North Texas wins this one hands down.

Stone Cold Steve Austin went there. So did Pat Boone and Phyllis George.

When it comes to football, this program is home of "Mean" Joe Greene. Enough said.

UNT finished the 2023 season 5-7 overall after playing in three consecutive bowl games. A four-game swoon, which included close losses to No. 23 Tulane, Memphis and UTSA did the Mean Green in last fall. The fourth straight was a 45-21 beating at the hands of in-state rival SMU. Eric Morris' team did close out the year with a pair of wins, but it wasn't enough to overcome a 3-7 stretch.

Fifteen players entered the NCAA Transfer portal at season's end, including starting quarterback Chandler Rogers, who is headed to Cal. The junior threw for nearly 3,400 yards last year and added 180 more on the ground. He accounted for 33 touchdowns.

Rogers' top target, Ja’Mori Maclin, also left the program for Kentucky. He hauled in 57 receptions for 1,004 yards and six touchdowns in 2023. Ayo Adeyi, a 1,000-yard running back last season, also hit the dusty trail and is now at James Madison. Back-up running back Oscar Adaway (738 yards) and his back-up Isaiah Johnson (229 yards) are gone, too.

North Texas, for the first time in school history, featured a 3,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard receiver and a 1,000-yard rusher.

That's all past tense.

Wyoming and North Texas have never played before. This is a big one for a number of reasons, mainly recruiting, as the Cowboys' staff, mainly Jeff Phelps, will scout the Metroplex along with the northern part of the state.

North Texas will travel to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech the week prior to hosting the Pokes.

 

OVERALL THOUGHTS ON NON-CONFERENCE PLAY:

One word comes to mind -- winnable.

That may sound crazy considering Wyoming is starting a new QB in Evan Svoboda and this part of the slate features games against a pair of Big 12 foes, but can you think of two other teams from that conference you'd rather face right now?

ASU is in full rebuild mode. BYU is still trying to find its way in a new league and secure its signal caller of the future. The Cougars will also be walking into what could be the most-hostile environment on their schedule this side of Salt Lake City.

Can the Pokes survive the sweltering heat of the desert in Week 1? We have to be realistic, too, the Sun Devils have talent. Lots of it. So does BYU. That, along with depth, is always a cause of concern in these types of outings.

The Cowboys have struggled against FCS opponents of late. That includes Idaho, who nearly walked out of War Memorial Stadium with a win in 2019, just two weeks after Wyoming upset Missouri. That won't be a cakewalk. It never is. But, man, the Vandals lost a ton of firepower to the portal. Could be a tough year for the guys from Moscow.

Now, remember, I said struggled, not lost.

The last time the Pokes dropped one of these games was back in 2015. That was a 24-13 home setback against North Dakota.

Speaking of taking a pounding in the portal, North Texas took a pair of stiff right jabs and a haymaker with the loss of its 3,000-yard passer Chandler Rogers, along with leading wide out Ja’Mori Maclin and rusher Ayo Adeyi.

I suppose if you need to replenish a roster, and quickly, Texas is the place to do it.

If you're one of those fans that actually believe teams look ahead and skip right past the upcoming opponent, this is good news. ASU faces Mississippi State after Wyoming. BYU hosts Kansas State.

I wouldn't bank on either of the programs overlooking the Cowpokes.

If you are of the belief a team is playing a "body bag" game before they face the Cowboys, I have more good news. Idaho travels to Oregon in the opener. North Texas heads to Texas Tech.

That could be beneficial, though I'm old enough to remember Portland State giving up 81 points at Autzen Stadium in 2023 only to come into Laramie and battle to the final whistle.

For the sake of length, let's take a look at the Mountain West schedule -- plus Washington State -- on Friday.

(Yes, I realize Washington State is technically not a Mountain West game. Still, we're going to treat it like one here.)

 

2024 UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

Date Opponents
Sat., Aug. 31 at Arizona State
Sat., Sept. 7 Idaho
Sat., Sept. 14 BYU
Sat., Sept. 21 at North Texas
Sat., Sept. 28 Air Force *
Sat., Oct. 5 Open
Sat., Oct. 12 San Diego State *
Sat., Oct. 19 at San Jose State *
Sat., Oct. 26 Utah State *
Sat., Nov. 2 at New Mexico *
Sat., Nov. 9 Open
Sat., Nov. 16 at Colorado State *
Sat., Nov. 23 Boise State *
Sat., Nov. 30 at Washington State

University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

During the summer of 2021, 7220Sports.com counted down the Top 50 football players in University of Wyoming history, presented by Premier Bone & Joint Centers, Worthy of Wyoming.

The rules are simple: What was the player's impact while in Laramie? That means NFL stats, draft status or any other accolade earned outside of UW is irrelevant when it comes to this list.

This isn't a one-man job. This task called for a panel of experts. Joining 7220's Cody Tucker are Robert GagliardiJared NewlandRyan Thorburn, and Kevin McKinney.

We all compiled our own list of 50 and let computer averages do the work. Think BCS -- only we hope this catalog is fairer.

Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter: @7220sports - #Top50UWFB

Gallery Credit: 7220Sports.com

- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

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