The 5 Best Teams in Wyoming Cowboys Football History
Next weekend, the University of Wyoming Cowboys football program enters its 119th season. Over the years, the Pokes have had some really good, and some really bad, teams. Here's our list of the five best seasons in the history of the program.
1. 1950 - Three years earlier, coach Bowden Hyatt inherited a team that had finished 1-8-1 the previous season. He quickly turned the program around and built Wyoming football into a regional powerhouse.
Hyatt's 1950 team ran up nine consecutive wins, earning an invitation to the Gator Bowl. On New Year's Day, 1951, the Cowboys dominated 18th ranked Washington + Lee University on their way to the school's first undefeated season since 1902, when they played only one game.
The Cowboys finished the season ranked 12th in the Associated Press poll. Wyatt would leave two years later to become the coach at the University of Arkansas and later for the University of Tennesse. Wyatt compiled a record of 39-17-1 during six seasons in Laramie
2. 1967 - This team holds the distinction for the highest national ranking of any team in school history. Led by coach Lloyd Eaton and All-American tackle Mike Dirks, Wyoming won their first ten games of the season. On New Year's Day, 1968, the Pokes came up just short in the Sugar Bowl, falling to LSU by a score of 20-13.
In spite of the loss, the Cowboys finished 10-1, and were ranked 6th in the Associated Press poll. They also finished the season with the best defense in the country, having outscored their opponents 289 to 119.
Five players from the team were selected in the 1968 NFL Draft. Easton would eventually leave Laramie in 1970 to join the Green Bay Packers as Director of Player Personnel. Over his nine years at Wyoming, Easton's record was 57-33-2.
3. 1956 - The last undefeated team in Wyoming's history, the '56 team dominated the Skyline Eight Conference. Led by coach Phil Dickens and running back Jim Crawford, the nation's top rusher, the Cowboys cruised to a 10-0 record.
After defeating Texas Tech in the Sun Bowl the previous year, Wyoming declined the Sun Bowl's invitation in 1956, hoping to secure a bid for a bigger bowl game. Sadly, that invitation would never come. The Cowboys would return to the Sun Bowl a year later.
Crawford went on to the NFL, where he spent five seasons with the New England Patriots. Dickens, who was named Rocky Mountain Coach of the Year, left the following year to coach Indiana University after amassing a record of 29-11-1 during his four years at the helm in Laramie.
4. 1966 - Although the Pokes had a higher national ranking the following year, the '66 team may have been even better. Were it not for a heartbreaking 12-10 loss to arch rival Colorado State in the Border War game, the Cowboys would have run the table.
Led by defensive tackle Ronald Billingsley, Wyoming's defense was among the nation's best. That year, they dominated their opponents, outscoring them 355-89. After defeating Florida State in the Sun Bowl, the Cowboys finished the campaign ranked 15th in the Coaches Poll.
Billingsley was taken in the first round of the 1967 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He was one of four Pokes players selected that year, along with quarterback Rick Egloff. The Cowboys would continue their winning ways in '67, setting a school record with 14 consecutive victories.
5. 1996 - Perhaps the most exciting year in the school history, '96 marked the program's 100th season. Coach Joe Tiller's explosive spread offense was the most potent passing attack in the country, averaging over 38 points per game.
Led by Marcus Harris, who went on to receive the Fred Biletnikoff Award honoring the country's best wide receiver, the Pokes won their first nine games, including a 66-0 drubbing of Hawaii.
After dropping a heart breaker on the road to San Diego State, the Cowboys advanced to the inaugural WAC Championship game. There, they lost another thriller to 5th ranked BYU, 28-25 in overtime. Wyoming finished the season 10-2, ranked 22nd in the Associated Press poll.
Harris would set school records that year with 109 catches for 1,650 yards and 13 touchdowns. Quarterback Josh Wallwork also had a record setting season, throwing for 4,090 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Harris was one of three Pokes players selected in the 1997 NFL Draft. After the season, Tiller left to become the head coach at Purdue University. He finished his six year tenure at Wyoming with a record 39-30-1.