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2022 Arizona Bowl Game Preview: Ohio Bobcats vs Wyoming Cowboys

Two squads dominating recent bowl opponents clash in the Grand Canyon State.

NCAA Football: Ohio at Penn State
MAC Coach of the Year Tim Albin
Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

The Ohio Bobcats (9-4) and the Wyoming Cowboys (7-5) meet this Friday with some prolific bowl win streaks on the line.

Ohio heads to Arizona with a program-best three-game bowl win in tow, crushing opponents by a score of 98-27 in games from 2017-2019. We took a look back at those games in some detail here.

Wyoming is no stranger to bowl success either, battering their last three opponents by a combined score of 127-69, including wins over MAC members Central Michigan (37-14) and Kent State (52-38). The Cowboys can tie a program record of four-straight bowl wins if they can best the ‘Cats.

Who will keep their streak intact? We take a look at the matchup, but first, as usual, some game notes.

Game Notes

  • Time and Date: Friday, December 30, 2022, 4:30pm ET
  • TV: Game is a streaming exclusive, with Barstool Sports taking coverage. The game can be found on their website or via their YouTube channel for no cost.
  • Radio/Streaming: Both team radios can be heard via the Varsity Network App.
  • Location: Arizona Stadium on the University of Arizona Campus in Tucson, Arizona
  • Weather at Kickoff: Partly sunny, 62 degrees. Wind 6 MPH per
  • Spread/Total: Ohio are three-point favorites, per
  • Series History: Wyoming won both prior meetings, 34-33 in 2007 and 21-20 in 2008

Ohio Bobcats

Getting to Know Ohio

Last time out, the ‘Cats lost a defensive battle in the MAC championship to Toledo 17-7.

That doesn’t take away from the great season they have put together so far, as substantial growth on both sides of the ball over the course of the season has the Bobcats sitting just one win away from just their third double-digit win season going back to 1968.

Offensively, Ohio will be without the services of the MAC MVP quarterback Kurtis Rourke, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in a November win over Ball State.

With second team quarterback and Tempe Arizona native Parker Navarro out for the season with an injury in non-conference play, CJ Harris has taken over for Rourke the past two-and-a-half contests, the most substantial game experience of his career. On the year, Harris completed 50 percent of his passes for 393 yards, a touchdown and a pick. Harris has had some success on the ground this year with 127 yards rushing and three scores.

When the Bobcats go to the pass, Harris will have plenty of options with wideouts Sam Wiglusz, Jacoby Jones, James Bostic, and Miles Cross all recording over 500 yards this season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 03 MAC Championship - Toledo vs Ohio Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While taking some shots through the air, the Bobcats will certainly test the Pokes’ run defense behind MAC Freshman of the Year running back Sieh Bangura. The young ‘Cat has come on strong in recent weeks, rushing for almost half of his season total of 940 yards in the last four weeks alone (445 yards). Bangura has also developed in to a complete back with reliable hands and pass blocking.

Defensively, the Bobcats are on a roll, holding their last seven opponents to 21 points or less (Buffalo had 24 points but one score was a pick-six).

The Bobcats have shown a nose for the ball this season too, finishing the year ranked 11th nationally in takeaways with 24.

Though the defense is a team effort, one player that has come on strong against the run and pass the back half of the season is safety Alvin Floyd who finished the season third on the squad in tackles with 70 while recording five pass breakups and an interception.

Should the game be close, as expected, Ohio has a difference maker in true freshman kicker Nathaniel Vakos, who was named second-team All-MAC in just his first year in the league, converting 19-of-23 field goals including a 55-yarder.

Wyoming Cowboys

Getting to Know the Cowboys

The Pokes come into the contest losing their last two ball games, including a 20-17 heartbreaker to division champ Boise State where Wyoming battled until the end and came up just short.

Offensively, the Cowboys have hung their hats this season primarily on the running game, rushing for 2,253 yards while passing for 1,533.

Who will be the primary running back for Wyoming at this point in the season is somewhat of a mystery outside of the locker room in Laramie.

Leading rusher Titus Swan (1,039 yards, 8 touchdowns) was reportedly dismissed from the team recently for disciplinary reasons and is currently in the transfer portal. Backups Dawaiian McNeely and D.Q. James have 40 or more carries this season each but missed the last regular season game with injuries. Running back Joey Braasch recently appeared in the transfer portal as well, clouding the picture further.

What is known is the dual threat quarterback Andrew Peasley returned from injury for the last regular season game and should lead the charge for the Cowboys. The Utah State transfer is in his first season with Wyoming and is a factor in the running game with 851 yards rushing and five rushing touchdowns in his college career. Peasley has also completed 52 percent of his career pass attempts for 2,218 yards and 16 touchdowns against 13 interceptions.

Whatever Wyoming can do in the passing game looks like it will accomplish without the services of their leading receiver in 2022 Joshua Cobbs, who hit the transfer portal early in December. Cobbs led the team in catches with 35 and yards with 407.

Defensively, the Pokes have been rock solid in keeping opponents off the scoreboard this year, ranking 41st in the nation in points allowed at just over 23 per contest.

The defense is led by first-team all-conference linebacker Easton Gibbs, who is first on the team with 111 tackles in 2022.

Like the Bobcats, should the game be close, the Cowboys have one of the more accurate kickers in college football. Joining Gibbs, John Hoyland was a first team, all conference player this year, converting all his extra points while making 20-of-23 field goals with a long of 55 yards.

What to Expect

These teams are similar in several respects which should make for a competitive contest barring major turnovers. Both squads have experienced coaches and play a tough, physical style with defenses that are effective at keeping the opposition of the scoreboard.

With both teams solid defensively and some late season offensive changes, the ball game figures to be more of a defensive struggle.

Offensively, despite the loss of Rourke, Ohio still probably has the better group from top to bottom and should get enough production to get their fourth bowl win in a row.

Ohio 23, Wyoming 17