PROVO — Through five games this season, Wyoming has surprised the pundits, thrilled its fans, defeated a Southeastern Conference opponent for the first time in its history and is off to its best start in six years.
What the Cowboys, who were picked to finish last in the league, haven't done is win a road game. They'll get the chance Saturday (8 p.m., Ch. 5), when they take on BYU at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Coach Joe Glenn says it's too early to know just how good his Cowboys (4-1 overall, 1-0 in the Mountain West Conference) are, and that's why this game is so important.
"The next big thing is, can we win on the road? That's the next $64,000 question about the Wyoming Cowboys," said the second-year coach.
"Have we arrived? We've got to take that next step. That's the focus right now. It's a real big hurdle for us."
The Cowboys are 1-6 on the road under Glenn, with the lone victory coming last year against Utah State in Logan. So far this season, Wyoming has played away from Laramie only once, with disastrous results. The Cowboys were blanked by Texas A&M, 31-0, on Sept. 11. "We didn't handle it very good," Glenn said of that defeat to the Aggies.
Since the debacle at A&M, the 'Pokes have bounced back, posting a 37-32 win over the SEC's Ole Miss, which was followed by a 31-10 triumph over Louisiana-Monroe. Then came last week's 20-10 victory against San Diego State, snapping a five-game losing streak to the Aztecs. Wyoming opened the season with a 53-7 rout of Appalachian State.
All those games were played at War Memorial Stadium. "Playing at home has been good medicine for us," Glenn said.
BYU, meanwhile, has proven to be vulnerable at home, evidenced by the 1-7 record in its last eight games at Edwards Stadium. However, Wyoming hasn't beaten the Cougars in Provo since 1987.
"I've used the comparison to the old movie 'Hoosiers,' " Glenn said. "The field is the same size. We've got to be a tight-knit family, get on the road and get it done."
With a victory over the Cougars, Wyoming could position itself as a MWC contender. That's remarkable, considering how far the Cowboys had fallen before Glenn took over the program before the 2003 season. At the time, Wyoming had won five games — and only one conference game — in three years.
Under Glenn, the Cowboys have won seven of their last 12 games. A year ago, they downed BYU in Laramie, 13-10.
"They're a similar team to last year," said BYU coach Gary Crowton. "They don't make a lot of mistakes. There's not a lot of pressure on them right now because they were picked to finish last. Their confidence level is up."
Glenn deserves credit for the Cowboys' turnaround, said associate athletics director Kevin McKinney. "Everybody's so excited (in Wyoming) about what's going on. It's been a drought. (Glenn is) quite the hero here. He's a perfect fit for what was needed."
McKinney pointed out that the juniors and seniors in the program were part of those dismal teams of a couple of years ago. "Now they believe they can win," he said. "A lot of these kids are the ones who were downtrodden. (Glenn) is positive, he has great continuity with his staff and the kids believe in him."
GLENN ON BYU: Glenn understands what the struggling Cougars are going through this season. "They probably just need some confidence. They've played an awfully tough schedule," he said. "They've got to go out and get a win, the same things we're trying to do."
BYU attempted a conference-record 67 passes last week against UNLV, but Glenn expects the Cougar offense to stay on the ground more this week.
"I've got to believe that they're going to try to run the football and get some balance. I'm still one of those guys who thinks you can throw for 400 yards and lose," Glenn said. "You've got to get W's. I've always tried to preach balance. I really think balance is critical to having a winning football team."
NOTES: Wyoming junior quarterback Corey Bramlet is the younger brother of former Cowboy Casey Bramlet, who was a 2004 NFL draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals . . . Two Wyoming players received MWC player-of-the-week honors last week for their performances against San Diego State. Wide receiver Jovon Bouknight caught six passes for 87 yards and a touchdown while placekicker Deric Yaussi booted two field goals . . . The Cowboys have given up seven turnovers this season while the Cougars have turned the ball over 19 times.
BYU on the air
Wyoming (4-1) at BYU (2-4)
LaVell Edwards Stadium
Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV: KSL, Ch. 5
Radio: KSL 1160AM