The 2011-12 NCAA football postseason starts in full force December 17, with Albuquerque, N.M., being the location for this celebration with the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. This contest showcases a couple of eight-win schools – the Temple Owls from the MAC and the Wyoming Cowboys from the Mountain West.
These two teams have met just once before on the gridiron; with the Cowboys posting a 38-23 win at home in the 1990 season opener for both teams. This is Wyoming’s 13th bowl game and second New Mexico game in three years, while Temple is making its fourth bowl game overall and second in three years (2009 EagleBank Bowl).
Our latest college football bowl odds list Temple as a 6.5-point favorite, while the total sits at 47 points.
The Temple Owls
Temple ended up a stellar second in the MAC East Division this year, finishing just a single contest behind front-runner Ohio. The squad captured its last three contests and three of its four defeats this year were by a sum of 11 points (including 35-31 at Ohio and 14-10 versus Penn State). The Owls were 3-2 as a visitor this year, but hasn’t won a road contest since October 8 at Ball State (42-0).
Temple ranks a tough third in the country in scoring defense (14 points per contest), giving up 316 yards per contest (193 in the air, 123 via the run), while recording 32 sacks and forcing 18 turnovers.
Stephen Johnson paces this under appreciated unit with 113 stops (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 stops and interception and a blocked kick, while Justin Gildea has three picks, 46 stops and three sacks. Tahir Whitehead has four forced fumbles, three recoveries, 59 stops and five sacks.
On Offense, The Temple Owls ranks 45th in the country in scoring (30 ppg) while compiling 380 yards per contest (257 via the run, 123 in the air). Bernard Pierce paces this strong running attack with 1,381 yards and 25 touchdowns on 5.6 yards per tote, while Matt Brown contributes 867 yards and five touchdowns on 6.1 yards per attempt.
Chester Stewart and Mike Gerardi have combined to hit 58 % of their attempts this year for 1,185 yards and five touchdowns with four picks. The offensive line has allowed 21 sacks. The top receiving targets for the Owls are Evan Rodriguez and Joe Jones with a combined 60 grabs for 7233 yards and five touchdowns.
The Wyoming Cowboys
Wyoming 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 versus current BCS top-25 squads (Nebraska, TCU and Boise State) but they ended up third in the conference at 5-2. The Wyoming Cowboys is 4-2 as a visitor this year.
The Wyoming offense rates 60th in the nation in points (27 ppg) while totaling 399 yards per contest (214 through the air, 185 on the ground). Brett Smith paces this unit by connecting on 60 % of his throws for 2,495 yards and 18 touchdowns with eight interceptions. The offensive line has given up just 11 sacks.
Five players have 32 or more catches, paced by Chris McNeill with 42 receptions for 504 yards and four touchdowns and Robert Herron with 40 receptions for 348 yards and three touchdowns. The running contest is led by Al Alexander with 678 yards and six touchdowns on 4.7 yards per tote, while Smith has 645 yards and 10 touchdowns on 5.2 yards per tote.
On Defense, The Wyoming Cowboys ranks just 66th in the country in scoring (27 ppg) , allowing 432 yards per contest (230 via the run, 202 in the air) while recording 22 sacks and forcing 31 turnovers – four of which went for scores (Marqueston Huff and James Caraway, three fumbles; Luke Anderson, interception).
Luke Ruff paces the defense with 97 stops, adding a forced fumble and a recovery, while Brian Hendricks contributed 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 picks, 48 stops and a fumble recovery. Josh Biezuns adds five forced fumbles, 60 stops, five sacks and two fumble recoveries.
If you want previews on other games then take a look at our college 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 winter.