2011 New Mexico Bowl Preview
The 2011-12 NCAA football postseason begins in earnest December 17, with Albuquerque, N.M., being the venue for this festival with the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. This game features a pair of eight-win teams the Temple Owls from the MAC and the Wyoming Cowboys from the Mountain West.
These two squads have played just once before on the field; with Wyoming racking up a 38-23 victory at home in the first game of the 1990 season for both teams. This is Wyoming’s 13th bowl contest and second New Mexico game in three years, while Temple is making its fourth bowl contest ever and second in three seasons (2009 EagleBank Bowl).
Our latest NCAA bowl lines list the Owls as a 6.5-point chalk, while the total is listed at 47 points.
The Temple Owls
The Owls finished a strong second in the MAC East Division this season, listing just one game behind champion Ohio. The team captured its last three games and three of its four defeats this year were by a total of 11 points (including 35-31 at Ohio and 14-10 vs. Penn State). Temple was 3-2 as a visitor this season, but hasn’t won a road game since October 8 at Ball State (42-0).
Temple ranks a tough third in the nation in scoring defense (14 points per contest), allowing 316 yards per contest (193 in the air, 123 on the ground), while recording 32 sacks and forcing 18 turnovers.
Stephen Johnson leads this under appreciated unit with 113 tackles (42 more than anyone else on the team), adding three forced fumbles and two sacks. Adrian Robinson has a team-best six sacks to go with 47 tackles and interception and a blocked kick, while Justin Gildea has three picks, 46 tackles and three sacks. Tahir Whitehead has four forced fumbles, three recoveries, 59 stops and five sacks.
On Offense, Temple ranks 45th in the nation in scoring (30 ppg) while compiling 380 yards per game (257 rushing, 123 through the air). Bernard Pierce paces this dominant running attack with 1,381 yards and 25 scores on 5.6 yards per tote, while Matt Brown contributes 867 yards and five touchdowns on 6.1 yards per carry.
Chester Stewart and Mike Gerardi have combined to complete 58 percent of their attempts this season for 1,185 yards and five scores with four picks. The offensive line has given up 21 sacks. The top receiving threats for the Owls are Evan Rodriguez and Joe Jones with a combined 60 grabs for 7233 yards and five touchdowns.
The Wyoming Cowboys
The Cowboys won three of their last four contests, including a year-ending 22-19 win at Colorado State. Three of the four defeats this year came against current BCS top-25 schools (Nebraska, TCU and Boise State) but they finished third in the conference at 5-2. Wyoming is 4-2 as a visitor this season.
The Cowboy offense rates 60th in the nation in scoring (27 ppg) while totaling 399 yards per game (214 passing, 185 on the ground). Brett Smith paces this team by connecting on 60 percent of his attempts for 2,495 yards and 18 scores with eight INTs. The offensive line has given up just 11 sacks.
Five players have 32 or more grabs, led by Chris McNeill with 42 grabs for 504 yards and four scores and Robert Herron with 40 grabs for 348 yards and three touchdowns. The running contest is paced by Al Alexander with 678 yards and six touchdowns on 4.7 yards per attempt, while Smith has 645 yards and 10 scores on 5.2 yards per carry.
On Defense, Wyoming ranks just 66th nationally in scoring (27 ppg), surrendering 432 yards per contest (230 via the run, 202 passing) while recording 22 sacks and forcing 31 turnovers four of which went for touchdowns (Marqueston Huff and James Caraway, three fumbles; Luke Anderson, interception).
Luke Ruff leads the defense with 97 tackles, adding a forced fumble and a recovery, while Brian Hendricks adds 92 tackles with two forced fumbles, a sack and a fumble recovery. Gabe Knapton has 6.5 sacks, 74 stops, two fumble recoveries and a blocked kick, while Blair Burns has four interceptions, 48 tackles and a fumble recovery. Josh Biezuns adds five forced fumbles, 60 tackles, five sacks and two fumble recoveries.
If you want previews on other contests then take a look at our college football bowl predictions page at BetFirms. We detail every single team in order to give you the information you need to make winning college bowl picks this season.
Free Pick: Temple -6.5
Look for the Owls to be extremely motivated after being snubbed last year and not playing in a bowl game. The more motivated team with the better talent should cover in this one.