Wyoming is long past its Josh Allen days, but they still have enjoyed a modicum of success since his departure. Head coach Craig Bohl has done a good job with the program since coming over from North Dakota State, but hasn't turned the school into a force like he had up north. They have consistently had winning seasons and pushed for bowl games, but they still haven't won Mountain West Championship, which is one of their big goals.
This should be a pretty challenging season for the Cowboys. They had a bunch of key players leave via the transfer portal or graduate, so it will certainly be a transitioning year for the team. Far too often has Wyoming been known as a school that guys go to only to transfer to a bigger school within a season or two, basically like a minor league team that prepares athletes for bigger and better competition. The school is taking steps to remove that stigma, and that started with Allen. They have a good group of players right now, even with some players still opting to transfer, and the schedule is pretty easy overall. There's plenty of work that still needs to be done with this team, but Bohl has done a great job so far making the program relevant again, and he has the ability to keep it that way.
Illinois was very frustrating last season, to say the least, but that actually can be considered a good thing for this team. They had a losing season and were horribly inconsistent, but it does seem like they are starting to become more competitive under head coach Bret Bielema. This team managed to beat Penn State in 2021, which is a big accomplishment on its own. Nothing about the win was pretty, and Penn State wasn't that great last season, but a win is a win over a big-time football program in their own conference. Then they lost to Rutgers the next week, which was laughable. They followed that up by beating Minnesota.
All of this adds up to a team with potential, but needs to find the right grit and attitude, and combine it with the skill they possess. Bielema and his staff need to secure this program's first winning season in ten years. They have had just three in the last 19, which is pathetically bad. Nothing about how the program is run makes much sense over the last two decades, but here's to hoping that changes with Bielema in charge. Fans have been waiting too long for a winner.
This is another game where it's hard to judge who comes out on top, but Illinois looks poised to have a pretty decent season. They are laying -10 against Wyoming, which is quite a bit, but i like their chances to take it to the Cowboys and start the season on the right foot. Give me the Fighting Illini.