BOISE, Idaho (AP) Josh Allen threw three touchdown passes in his final game for Wyoming, and the Cowboys took advantage of Central Michigan’s eight turnovers to cruise to a 37-14 victory Friday in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
During the postgame award ceremony, the game MVP award declared his intention to give up his final season of eligibility to enter the NFL draft. Wyoming (8-5) rebounded after losing its last two regular-season games with Allen sidelined by a sprained right shoulder.
Allen was 11 of 19 for 154 yards with no interceptions. He showed off his arm strength on a perfect 45-yard pass that hit receiver C.J. Johnson in stride in the end zone.
”In today’s world where players are making all kinds of decisions about bowl games, Josh chose to play and I applaud him for that,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said before lobbying for Allen to be drafted. ”If there’s any NFL team looking for a player out there, you’re never going to find a bigger competitor and a better leader than him.”
Central Michigan (8-5) had won five straight. The eight turnovers broke the previous Famous Idaho Potato Bowl record of six.
”I don’t feel that today’s performance was indicative of the type of team we have,” Central Michigan coach John Bonamego said. ”The storyline obviously is eight turnovers. You’re not going to win many football games against any decent opponent turning it over that many times.”
Wyoming entered the game first in the nation in turnover margin and second in forced turnovers and will likely finish at the top of both rankings after the bowl season concludes.
Wyoming took a 21-7 lead in the first quarter.
Wyoming’s offense struggled in the red zone after the first quarter, settling for three field goals in three trips.
Central Michigan struggled everywhere on the field, watching promising drives end on turnovers or other drives stunted due to Wyoming’s relentless pass rush. The Cowboys had a season-high five sacks.
Late in the third quarter, Central Michigan found a spark and cut the deficit to 30-14. The Chippewas strung together a seven-play, 65-yard drive that ended on a 3-yard run by Jonathan Ward.
But Central Michigan failed to build on that momentum, losing it all on a scoop and score. After a strip sack by Youhanna Ghaifan, Wyoming defensive end Carl Granderson took the fumble and rumbled 58 yards for the touchdowns.
”This defense is special,” Ghaifan said. ”We all do our jobs and do it exceptionally well. … We got eight turnovers today-that’s not too shabby.”
Wyoming: Finding a replacement for Allen will be a high priority for a Cowboys team that is losing only three starters on offense and three on defense. Wyoming returns leading rusher Trey Woods and a stout defense that should give the Cowboys a strong chance to contend for the Mountain West Conference title.
Central Michigan: The Chippewas face a rebuilding season next year in the MAC as they lose seven starters on offense and five on defense. The offense is a mix of good and bad. The bad? They lose starting quarterback Shane Morris along with his top two receivers, Mark Chapman and Corey Willis. However, the top three rushers-Jonathan Ward, Kumehnnu Gwilly, and Romello Ross-all return.
Central Michigan honored alum Dick Enberg a day after the sportscasting great died at age 82.
The team wore helmet stickers with Enberg’s ”Oh My!” signature call, while coaches wrote the phrase on the back of their caps.
Enberg graduated from Central Michigan in 1957 and played baseball for the Chippewas.
Central Michigan will open the 2018 season on Sept. 1 at Kentucky.
Wyoming will face New Mexico State on Aug. 25.
More AP college football: http://collegefootball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25