By: Shawn O’Brate

LARAMIE – This weekend the Wyoming Cowboys had the Mountain West Conference in the palms of their hands as they played against the Boise State Broncos. The game was played in frigid conditions with kickoff taking place in 14° weather with it feeling like 5° by the time halftime rolled around. 

Not only was it a close game but it was my very first time in the stands as a Wyoming citizen, watching a team that I’ve only heard about and seen sporadically on ESPN highlights. 

The beginning of the game was electric, especially after Wyoming went up 7-0 in the first quarter. Fans of both sides filled the bleachers around my wife and I, striking me as odd coming from a Big XII school that fills the stands with homegrown fans and rarely finds space for the opponents’ fans to file in. But, I looked past the blue-and-orange scarves and coats that surrounded us because the Cowboys were getting it done on the field through strong, powerful running from Titus Swen. 

Even throughout the brisk air that filled the stadium you could hear the screaming, shouting fans and the booming cannon after the Cowboys went up 10-0 before allowing two field goals in three minutes to end the second quarter. 

Wyoming’s offense, minus their starting quarterback Andrew Peasley, felt very old school with run-heavy attacks shouldered heavily on Swen’s talent that was as obvious as a freezing cold pie to the face. This feeling gave me a different kind of warmth, the kind that comes with watching old versions of things still work as well as they did in their prime. 

Every time the ball went into Swen’s hand I could feel the cheer and happiness flow from the pit in my stomach to the vocal chords until they came out in a raucous scream, annoying the fans next to us as their team came out of halftime methodically going down the field for their first touchdown of the game. 

“Boise isn’t a state!” I screamed alongside my wife, joining in with the thousands of Wyoming fans as they verbally accosted the fans of the Idaho school. 

After Swen’s 83-yard touchdown run in the third quarter it felt like a different team, a different stadium, a different vibe. The confidence and momentum was back in the hands of Cowboys fans, which I identified as for the first time in my life, and it felt amazing through the multiple layers of clothing that consumed my torso to keep me warm. 

Sadly, that feeling would soon dwindle as the Broncos came back and scored before holding Craig Bohl’s offense for the rest of the game. And, as a Wyoming Cowboys fan for the first time, I felt the stinging defeat alongside the stinging wind outside the stadium on the way back to the car. 

No matter the outcome, the experience was enthralling and well worth the three-hour drive through snowy, windy roads and well worth the near three hours in the cold with friendly strangers huddled around us. 

The whole weekend showed me what football, specifically Cowboys football, means to this fanbase and the state of Wyoming as a whole. It’s more than just another team to watch, it’s almost a religion for the Cowboys and Cowgirls of Wyoming. All-in-all I’m even more excited for next season to get going now as I can’t wait to experience the same feel in warmer weather with more fans filling the stands. 

It also gave me a great insight into how basketball games at Arena-Auditorium might be, with the same vitriol and passion from the fans I can see basketball games becoming more and more worthy of the money and time it takes to get to and from Laramie from Fremont County.