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2019 College Football Rankings: No. 94 Wyoming hopes to offset departures on both lines

Wyoming has steadily improved under the direction of coach Craig Bohl, posting three consecutive bowl eligible seasons. The Cowboys remain a tough lineup, but lack of depth on both lines could make it tough to earn more than six wins in 2019.

Orlando Sentinel college insider Matt Murschel ranked all 130 FBS teams in the country entering the 2019 season. The Sentinel staff will take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 130 to our projected No. 1 team.

Today at No. 94: Wyoming

Coach: Craig Bohl (28-35, entering sixth season, 132-67 overall)

2018 record: 6-6 overall, 4-4 in Mountain West; third in Mountain Division

Look back: Wyoming entered the 2018 season knowing it had a redshirt freshman starting at quarterback and had to replace two strong running backs and an elite receiver. A bumpy start was inevitable. The Cowboys opened the season 2-8, only earning wins over independent New Mexico State and Football Championship Subdivision Wofford.

Tyler Vander Waal started nine games at quarterback, but Wyoming really gained traction when Sean Chambers replaced him in the lineup. Chambers emerged as a physical dual-threat quarterback who helped the Cowboys push their way to a 6-6 record. He rushed for more than 100 yards during three consecutive games and accounted for 595 yards of total offense and five touchdowns before suffering a broken fibula against Air Force late in the season.

Offensive starters returning: 5

Offensive starters lost: 6

Defensive starters returning: 6

Defensive starters lost: 5

Key losses: RB Nico Evans, TE Austin Fort, WR James Price, OL Kaden Jackson, OL Zach Wallace, DL Carl Granderson, DL Conner Calin, DL Sidney Malauulu, S Andrew Wingard, S Marcus Epps

Top returnees: QB Sean Chambers, OL Keegan Cryder, LB Logan Wilson, LB Cooper Rothe, S Alijah Halliburton, CB Antonio Hull, K Tyler Hall

Strengths: Bohl has molded the team into a physical group that delivers bruising hits on both sides of the ball. That toughness has helped the Cowboys perform relatively well in close games.

Chambers easily won a battle for the starting quarterback job during spring football and returns to help anchor the offense. Xazavian Valladay is expected to step in as a new featured running back after proving to be a capable backup last season.

Linebackers Logan Wilson and Cooper Rothe should be strong leaders in the middle of the defense while defensive backs Alijah Halliburton and Antonio Hull headline a strong secondary.

Weaknesses: On offense, Wyoming’s top receiving threats and a big chunk of its starting offensive line have departed. That’s going to put more pressure on a dynamic but relatively young quarterback coming off an injury and a running back stepping into a higher-profile role.

Defensive linemen Carl Granderson, Conner Calin and Sidney Malauulu will be missed up front. It’s never a good sign when both sides of the line suffer a lot of departures at the same time. The talented secondary also must offset the loss of starting safeties Andrew Wingard and Marcus Epps.

Outlook: Bohl won three FCS national championships and posted a 104-32 record at North Dakota State before taking over at Wyoming. He knows how to win. He has made the most of his roster every season, but it’s hard to be more physical than your opponents and play winning smash-mouth football when you lack the horses up front on both sides of the ball.

2019 Schedule

Aug. 31 Missouri

Sept. 7 at Texas State

Sept. 14 Idaho

Sept. 21 at Tulsa

Sept. 28 UNLV

Oct. 12 at San Diego State

Oct. 19 New Mexico

Oct. 26 Nevada

Nov. 9 at Boise State

Nov. 16 at Utah State

Nov. 22 Colorado State

Nov. 30 at Air Force

Previously on the countdown:

No. 95 UAB

No. 96 Miami (Ohio)

No. 97 Illinois

No. 98 Hawaii

No. 99 Middle Tennessee

No. 100 Oregon State

No. 101 Colorado State

No. 102 Eastern Michigan

No. 103 Tulsa

No. 104 Louisiana

No. 105 UNLV

No. 106 Western Kentucky

No. 107 ULM

No. 108 Ball State

No. 109 Old Dominion

No. 110 Rutgers

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