Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith throws during warmups before an NCAA college football game against Nebraska, in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013.
Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith throws during warmups before an NCAA college football game against Nebraska, in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. (Nati Harnik/Associated Press)

SAN JOSE -- San Jose State will try to change a disturbing trend when it hosts Wyoming in its homecoming game Saturday.

The Spartans (3-3, 2-1 Mountain West Conference) have lost five straight games after a bye week, a stat the players were reminded of this week.

SJSU coach Ron Caragher would prefer to do away with the byes altogether. This is the Spartans' second of the season. They lost to Minnesota 43-24 on Sept. 21 after their first. The last time SJSU won after a bye week was in 2008.

"I just like to play the games," Caragher said. "Practice and play the games and keep our team in a rhythm."

The Spartans have also lost three of their past four homecoming games. Last year's homecoming was a blowout loss to Utah State. They don't want a repeat performance to put a damper on the festivities, which include a postgame fireworks show.

"There's a lot on the line," senior linebacker Keith Smith said.

Saturday's matchup features teams that allow a lot of points. Wyoming (4-3, 2-1) has allowed an average of 41.7 points over its past three games. SJSU has allowed 39 points per game in its three losses.

Defense isn't necessarily a specialty in the Mountain West, though. The Spartans' overall average of 28.5 points allowed is third and tops in the West Division. Wyoming is fourth in the conference at 28.9. Eight conference teams allow 30 or more points per game.

SJSU's defense appears to be slowly improving. The Spartans have forced six turnovers in the past two games after getting just one during their three-game losing streak.

"We're starting to find our identity as a defense," said Smith, the national leader with 14.8 tackles per game. "As we start to figure out what we're good at and work to our strengths, then I feel like that's what's helping us out."

The second half of the Colorado State game two weeks ago was the team's best defensive performance. The Spartans held the Rams to three points as they rallied to a 34-27 victory.

"We've definitely gotten better at communicating," defensive tackle Travis Raciti said. "It showed in the second half of the Colorado State game. Our defense is assignment football so if we can communicate to one another, all we have to do is tackle the ball carrier."

The task this week is slowing down Wyoming's Brett Smith, who might be the conference's best dual-threat quarterback. But the junior was corralled to the tune of 12 yards on 11 carries against Colorado State.

"Their D-line did a good job of containing him and keeping the pass rush integrity," Raciti said of the Rams.

After finishing in the top 10 in the nation in sacks last year, the Spartans haven't generated much of a pass rush with just nine sacks this season. Freshman outside linebacker Eugene Taylor has four and Raciti two.

"We just need to keep working and executing when the opportunities present themselves," Raciti said. "The main thing is just getting pressure on them and affecting the throws in order to help our linebackers and defensive backs make the plays they need to make."

Follow Jimmy Durkin at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.