Year 19 Postseason: The red-hot Cowboys try to finish strong
Coach Luke has a history of postseason dominance but can his young team step up for him this time around?
Welcome to the next chapter in Coach Luke’s quest to become the winningest college football coach of all-time in NCAA Football 14. To learn more about this series and read up on past installments, visit the About page of this site.
Here’s a recap of how the season has gone thus far:
Lamont Collins has been a freshman sensation at quarterback and he has engineered a run-first offense that vaulted the Cowboys to an 11-1 record.
The team has made it to their second MWC Championship Game under Coach Luke and is scheduled to face Fresno State.
Coach Luke was embarrassed when his team went 4-8 last year. He knew that brighter days were ahead though and, thankfully, those days arrived faster than expected, largely thanks to Lamont Collins.
The arrival of Lamont Collins is reminiscent of when Kenneth “K-Dubs” Washington helped put Akron on the map in Year 3 of Coach Luke’s career, but this feels even bigger. That’s not meant as disrespect to the legend that is K-Dubs, but he came to us out of junior college while Lamont Collins has come in as a star freshman. K-Dubs came onto a team that didn’t have a lot of talent around him as Coach Luke was just getting started. Meanwhile, Lamont Collins came onto a Wyoming team that had talent at every position thanks to four years of recruiting by Coach Luke already.
K-Dubs was a spark. Lamont Collins is a damn explosion.
After an 11-1 regular season where we won every game that Collins started, Wyoming enters Coach Luke’s zone: the postseason. He’s never lost a conference championship and has been nearly unbeatable in bowl games.
It’s time to cowboy up, Pokes.
Year 19 (2031-32) Postseason
This represents the ninth time that Coach Luke has ever appeared in a conference championship game. He’s undefeated in his previous eight attempts and hopes to keep that streak going. A personal goal of his is to never lose a conference championship game in his career.
As he talked to his players before this game, Coach Luke made it clear that an invitation to a BCS Bowl Game is highly unlikely but this team is still playing for every future Wyoming Cowboy. Winning here and winning a bowl game would put Wyoming on the map and could start a new championship era. When that championship era comes, Coach Luke will have this group of players to thank for it.
11-1 | MWC Championship Game vs Fresno State
This isn’t the first meeting with Fresno State from this season. They met in Week 5 where Fresno matched Wyoming throughout most of the game in a close game that Wyoming won 42-35. The Cowboys relied on their rushing game on offense. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, were shut down completely in the run game and relied on the passing game instead.
The teams have had time to think about that game and ponder on it. Will either team change up their strategy now that the MWC Championship is on the line?
In lieu of YouTube highlights for this installment, you can check out clips from Twitch that were gathered from reader Ray if you want to see how the players looked in this one.
It’s a damn blowout! The Cowboys make sure this isn’t another close matchup as Lamont Collins takes the game over himself on offense. Lamont rushed for 266 yards while passing for 220 yards. Marky Mark got two sacks as part of the defense’s six sacks and two interceptions. It was an all-around performance that resulted in a 51-13 win and Wyoming’s second MWC title under Coach Luke!
The MWC is the Mostly Wyoming Conference once again!
There was some back-of-the-napkin mathematics that made it seem possible that maybe the Cowboys might make a BCS Bowl Game but reality did not play out that way. Despite the 12-1 record, the Cowboys head to the Las Vegas Bowl again, which is where the MWC champions are destined to go.
12-1 | Las Vegas Bowl vs UCLA
Our gift for making the Las Vegas Bowl? It’s a date with the UCLA Bruins. They are rated 88 overall, compared to our 91 overall. In theory, we are favored to win this game.
Unlike his record in conference championships, Coach Luke’s record in bowl games does have some losses. The goal here is to get one more bowl game win so that Coach Luke can get closer to Joe Paterno’s record of 24 bowl wins. Coach Luke has some work to do but he’s inching towards that.
Do Lamont and the crew have what it takes to take care of UCLA in this matchup?
We shut the Bruins out! The Cowboys win 41-0 in the Las Vegas Bowl! Goodness, gracious!
This team hit a stride midway through the season and they just never stopped. Despite the great offensive performances, it must be noted how well the defense did here. They didn’t create many sacks nor turnovers; they just stopped the Bruins from doing anything. The defensive coordinator Howard Norman was at his absolute best in this one as the Bruins passed for only 72 yards and rushed for 42 yards. Just a jaw-dropping performance to help put the Cowboys on the map, as well as Howard Norman.
We are bowl game winners and have finally arrived on the national stage with this win! It certainly feels like we are bound to win a title with Lamont Collins under center and this is a big stepping stone in that process.
Elsewhere in football, Alabama defeats Texas 38-31 to win the national championship this year. Also, our old friends at Akron finished the season unranked once again and Cortez Haumiller only went 4-8 in his first year as head coach of Troy.
Year 19 Recruiting Recap
One of the reasons that we did so well in the latter part of the season was because of our defense. It came as no surprise when DC Howard Norman got a head coaching opportunity at the start of the offseason. He leaves us to coach at Georgia State so we have two Akron alums as head coaches in the Sun Belt now. Howard Norman is unfortunately replaced by a Level 1 coordinator so I hope that doesn’t hurt us next season.
As we move forward and this team continues to get better, we’ll obviously be relying on good recruiting classes. The unfortunate part of this season is that we didn’t have much top-tier talent interested in Wyoming after our 4-8 season.
For this year, the goal was basically to target the best talent that our house rules allowed us to recruit. In addition, we’d love to get talent at all of the offensive and defensive line positions as well as a tight end for the future.
This is what the top of the board looked like at the start of the season:
Note: Deuce is a reader-created punter and I made an exception to recruit him despite never recruiting reader-created players. The reason is that he’s a punter. We can’t control whether he comes here but he shouldn’t break the game if we get him.
For the readers, another thing you should know is that viewers on the Twitch stream have the ability to change the names of some players we recruit by using a random name generator to create a new name. Any of the names you see in these screenshots are subject to change. The final list has all of the real names we’ll see going forward.
As the season went on, it was tough-going with the recruits for a while. We’re mostly able to land recruits that have ratings in the mid-60’s and we are mostly getting 3-star players. This likely won’t be a year where we find future stars of our team but we can still find good role players to fill our roster with.
Midway through the season, our board starts to take shape with our top targets:
By the end of the season, we land 17 players and only have 2 players left to recruit in the offseason. The two players left are some of our highest-rated targets so the hope is that we’re able to land them both. In particular, the defensive tackle is a big need so we put a lot of points into him…
We get them both! After joining the team, the DT tells us that his actual real name is Callahan Hawkins. We welcome Callahan to the team with open arms as he may be our best recruit of the season. The other great recruit that we got is a WR from Wyoming named Colt West. This is what our final list of commitments looks like:
We don’t exactly have our best class ever as we finish with the #39 class in the country. That’s still damn good for this little Wyoming team. Now that Coach Luke is wearing his famous suit again, the next recruiting class is sure to be top-notch.
Regardless of that, we finished 13-1 on the season and we are now looking like a real destination for players! Our roster looks tremendous for next season and our window for being a championship-caliber team has finally opened. I can’t wait to see what happens on the field in the upcoming season.
Since the season ended, Coach Luke had been unable to get an answer from LeBron about what happened with the Poet Laureates. All he knew was that they were gone. Coach Luke tried to keep it out of his mind as he didn’t want to assume the worst.
On a fine spring day, LeBron and Coach Luke were relaxing at LeBron’s retreat in Jackson Hole and drinking some wine. LeBron broached the subject of scheduling some big-name schools next season to ensure that Wyoming would get national exposure. LeBron had seen how that went at Akron and felt that was the way to ensure Wyoming would get an invite to the BCS National Championship too.
Coach Luke reiterated to LeBron that part of the reason he’s in Wyoming is to escape the fervor of power conferences and national media attention. Coach Luke wants to win championships but trying to do so from within the MWC while facing local competition is just fine with him.
“What about losing to Florida two years ago?” LeBron asked. “Doesn’t it drive you crazy? You want revenge against them, don’t you?”
“And you want to win the most national titles ever as a coach, right? What about taking down the most celebrated team of all-time in Alabama after they just won another title? Wouldn’t that be sweet?”
“I mean, I—”
“You want your team to be #1? Schedule the preseason #1 team and squash them. Show the world who is #1. Wouldn’t you love that?”
“It’s just not—”
“Don’t worry. I’m going to make some calls and I’ll make it happen.”
“Bron. It’s not a big deal for me to do those things. I just want to coach my players and win games. I’m not on a revenge tour.”
“This isn’t a decision for you, Coach. I’m going to make it happen,” LeBron said as he started to take a small device out of his pocket.
“What are you talking about?”
LeBron hit a few buttons on this audio recorder and then a recording started to play. It was Coach Luke’s voice. “Yeah, man. That’s me. A stone-cold killer,” Coach said in the recording before LeBron stopped it.
LeBron looked at Coach. “Now. I’m not saying what happened or didn’t happen with the Poets. I’m just saying it would be unfortunate if this recording got leaked to the media as well as some news about what happened to those poor, poor Poets.”
Coach Luke, for once in his life, was speechless.
“We’re scheduling those teams, Coach.”
Coach Luke still couldn’t put together any words.
“And, you know, Coach… I was thinking it might be nice to go Independent again soon. Schedule a whole damn gauntlet of teams every year and leave these MWC chumps behind. Yeah… I think I’ll get those wheels turning too. You’ll thank me later.”
Laramie City Lights Scheduling
Due to my schedule with teaching a class this semester and a few other things on my schedule, I will need to change my Twitch schedule later this month. For this season, it’s still Tuesdays and Fridays. I’m thinking this season will likely take place over three streams again, starting at 8:00 PM EST each time. Here is my Twitch channel link, and here’s the schedule:
And, yes, you may have concluded that means that I am streaming tonight! That also means Year 20 is starting tonight so, yes, that means that you’ll get another Laramie City Lights post this evening with a roster preview.
I’ve got a feeling that this will be a very special season. Let’s ride, cowboys!