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Washington State football vs. Wyoming: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score

Cowboys host Cougars in Laramie

LARAMIE, Wyo. – Washington State has been the third winningest program in Pac-12 play over the last three years, but the Cougars are entering a season of uncertainty. They’ll begin to find some answers Saturday afternoon in the season opener at Wyoming.

TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network. LINE: Washington State -1.5

Coach Mike Leach already faced a tall task in replacing three-year starting quarterback and Pac-12 all-time leading passer Luke Falk. But then the program was rocked by the news in January that backup Tyler Hilinski, who started for the injured Falk in the Holiday Bowl, had committed suicide.

An offseason of healing has followed, and now the Cougars are beginning anew, likely with East Carolina-transfer Gardner Minshew II taking over the controls of Leach’s Air Raid attack.

Wyoming, meanwhile, got an early jump on the new season/post-Josh Allen era Saturday, using a punishing ground attack and a stout defense to dominate host New Mexico State 29-7.

ABOUT WASHINGTON STATE (2017: 9-4)

Leach hasn’t officially named his new starting QB, but most signs point to Minshew, a senior who threw for 3,487 yards and 24 TDs in 17 games at East Carolina. There will be ample targets to throw to as three of the Cougars’ top six pass catchers return in running back James Williams along with wideouts Kyle Sweet and Renard Bell. Defensively, Washington State has had to replace coordinator Alex Grinch and six starters, but brings back its top two tacklers in All-Pac 12 second-team safety Jalen Thompson and linebacker Jahad Woods.

ABOUT WYOMING (1-0)

Freshman Tyler Vander Waal got the start in the opener replacing Allen, the seventh overall pick in last spring’s NFL Draft, but it was a rushing attack that rolled up 312 yards on 57 carries that did most of the damage against the Aggies.

Nico Evans led the way, rushing for 190 yards and two scores on 24 attempts. The Cowboys were stifling on defense, not allowing New Mexico State across midfield until the game’s waning minutes and limiting the Aggies to seven first downs and 135 total yards - including minus-9 rushing yards on 16 attempts.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Washington State has lost of five of its six season openers under Leach with its only win coming last season in a 31-0 shutout of visiting Montana State of the FCS Big Sky Conference.

2. The Cougars have four of their six meetings with Wyoming, with the latest being a 31-14 home win in 2015.

3. Evans entered Saturday’s opener with 108 career rushing yards on 36 attempts over his first three seasons but eclipsed that total by 82 yards against New Mexico State.

PREDICTION: Washington State 23, Wyoming 21

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