Expectations were high for the Cowboys coming into the 2005 season. Their star quarterback returned, a wide receiver was hyped as best in the conference and they even snuck into a few preseason Top 25 polls.
After a 32-14 shellacking suffered on the road to Florida to open the season, UW bounced back to win four in a row, including a road win over South Eastern Conference foe Ole Miss.
But the Cowboys couldn't meet expectations, losing two straight home conference games to TCU and New Mexico. Now the Cowboys find themselves at a crucial part in the season, facing a team that needs a win just as much as they do.
"Every game is a crossroads. We have to win three or four more games to have a chance to go to a bowl game," said head coach Sonny Lubick. "Every one of these games is important."
While the expectations for the Cowboys were well deserved after beating UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl last December, a few players have started the season sub-par.
Senior quarterback Corey Bramlet, projected to be one of the top quarterbacks in the Mountain West Conference, currently has 11 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions and is hitting just 55.7 percent of his passes.
With Bramlet struggling, the Cowboys have relied more on their run this year than they had planned. Redshirt freshman running back Wynel Seldon has stepped in and played well for the Cowboys, gaining 552 yards and seven touchdowns on 126 carries.
After what BYU did to the Rams last week on the ground the Cowboys are expected to run more than usual, and the Rams know it.
"We have to stop the run," said CSU senior linebacker Courtney Jones. "There's no other way of preparing for this game. We just have to stop the run."
The Rams currently rank last in the MWC and 103rd in the nation in rushing defense, and with senior defensive tackle Delroy Parke out another 2-3 weeks there are some guys that are going to have to step up.
The Cowboys also have had a tough time stopping the run in '05, ranking sixth in the MWC and No. 71 nationally. Their pass defense, however, has been one of the tops in the nation.
UW's pass defense is tops in the conference and eighth nationally, but it's not just the corners that have been shutting opponents down.
Wyoming's starting defensive ends, senior John Flora and junior Mike Groover, both from Colorado, are tied for the MWC lead in sacks with 5.5. Another reason for the success of the Cowboy pass defense is junior cornerback Derrick Martin, another Colorado product.
Martin was second team All-Mountain West as a sophomore in 2004 and is considered the best shutdown corner in the MWC. One CSU player has something to say about that.
"I'm trying to be the best corner in the Mountain West, but Derrick Martin, that's the best corner right now so I hear," said junior cornerback Robert Herbert. "He's a good corner, but I just have to go out and do what I need to do."