Wyoming Cowboys College Football Experience in Laramie, Wyoming

Let me tell you about my first Wyoming Cowboys college football experience in Laramie, Wyoming. It was a perfect fall afternoon in Laramie, Wyoming during this particular Wyoming Cowboys college football experience, not in a cloud in the sky and just mildly breezy. This Wyoming Cowboys college football experience in Laramie, Wyoming was even highlighted with a comeback win in the 4th quarter by the home team against the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV), and is something I will remember for a long time. The fan-friendliness alone is definitely worth the visit for sports fans, as well as watching an up and coming gridiron program.

The Wyoming Cowboys college football team doesn’t always draw large home crowds because the state’s half a million-plus residents are spread out across 97,818 square miles. Whenever a game at the 30,514 seat Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium (general capacity, but more seating can be added as it was when the University of Texas played there September 12) takes place, Laramie, with a population of just over 27,000 people according to Wikipedia, becomes the third largest city in the state. Jonah Field is named for one of the largest natural gas fields in the USA, located in southwestern Wyoming, and contains some 10.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to Wikipedia.

Because the seating is primarily two grandstands (each with two tiers) that run parallel to the length of the football field, there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. Even high up just below the press box level gives fans a great view of the action along with an intimate feel. To watch college football here is to be able to say you saw the sport played at the highest elevation in the United States (for Division I), for players and fans alike can see signage from the east grandstand that reads “Welcome To 7,220 Feet.”

The Wyoming Cowboys play on Desso Challenge Pro 60 Monofilament Synthetic Turf (it cost a million dollars) which feels really soft. This surface returns to its original position and shape after being played on.

Wyoming Cowboys College Football Experience in Laramie, Wyoming: Family Friendly Atmosphere

I arrived outside the stadium a couple hours before the 1 pm kickoff to take part in the festive atmosphere already underway at Tailgate Park, which is a grassy area that makes up the first part of a Wyoming Cowboys college football experience for many fans, including visiting teams’ fans if they choose to take part. Hundreds of people donned in the brown and gold colors of the Wyoming Cowboys were on hand to peruse the various local business and university vending tables, eat, and sign up for raffles. A college football game was showing on a giant TV and children were enjoying themselves in some jumping gyms. During this time, live music performances take place, including by a classic rock cover band called Danno Have Fun Will Travel, who’s been entertaining tailgaters for some 20 years. The University of Wyoming’s marching band, known as Western Thunder, also performed in Tailgate Park for the college football fans before marching into the stadium.

I spoke with Wyoming Cowboys college football fans Kerrie and Daryl, who drove some 220 miles from Green River, Wyoming to the game with their three young boys, a trip which they try to make once a year. The mom Kerrie told me the best parts of the Wyoming Cowboys college football experience for them is “the family-friendly atmosphere” and its affordability (tickets for this particular game were $28 for adults and $14 for kids). I asked her if she would like to see her boys playing for the Wyoming Cowboys in the future, and Kerrie quipped, “That would be Daryl’s dream.” Daryl is patient with first year head coach Dave Christensen in turning the team’s fortunes around, saying, “I think it’s going to take some time with the new coach.”

Even the fans of UNLV were impressed with the atmosphere in Laramie, Wyoming. About 50 of them came from the Las Vegas, Nevada area, wearing red clothing on behalf of the Rebels. This included Joe and Cathy, of which the couple said of their Wyoming Cowboys college football experience during pre-game warm ups, “Everybody’s been friendly and you can park your car in the parking lot and not worry (about it being burglarized/vandalized, as one might elsewhere).”

Wyoming Cowboys College Football Experience in Laramie, Wyoming: The Pokes Rally in the 4th Quarter for a 30-27 Win

The Wyoming Cowboys really got some offensive monkeys off their backs in this game. They came into the game without an offensive touchdown for 9 straight quarters, and that streak extended to 10 after UNLV took a 7-3 lead after 15 minutes of play. But the offense finally got into gear, as quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels threw three touchdown passes of 19, 34, and 15 yards, putting on some impressive scrambling moves in the process on 24 for 37 passing for 234 yards without an interception. The team was also 5 for 5 in the red zone (scoring two touchdowns and three field goals with each score resulting in a thunderous cannon-like boom from near the north end zone), and didn’t commit any turnovers. The Wyoming Cowboys defense forced 4 turnovers, including a fumble recovery by Corey Orth late in the game when UNLV was attempting a game-tying field goal, holding on to win 30-27. The teams traded scores, though the Wyoming Cowboys were often playing catch up. Their go ahead score, a 28 yard field goal by Ian Watts with 4:21 remaining, came off of an interception by cornerback Tashaun Gipson, much to the delight of most of the 19,196 in attendance. Yet those 19,000-plus sure know how to make a very loud ruckus towards the opposing team, especially when UNLV was trying to convert on third downs!

Wyoming Cowboys College Football Experience in Laramie, Wyoming Made More Memorable by the Performance of Western Thunder

Another wonderful aspect of the Wyoming Cowboys college football experience is the 155 member marching band known as Western Thunder, who performed before the game started, throughout the game, and during halftime. To me, their best playing is while they are in the stands with the college football fans (between plays or after the home team scores), especially during their renditions of Ragtime Cowboy Joe (also called Cowboy Joe), the incredibly fast and energetic team fight song.

For more information about Wyoming Cowboys Football, including tickets to upcoming 2009 home games with New Mexico (October 10: Homecoming), BYU (November 7: Band Day), and TCU (November 21: Military Day), go their website here.