New Mexico Bowl Preview: Temple Owls vs Wyoming Cowboys

2011 Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Temple Owls vs Wyoming Cowboys
University Stadium – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Saturday, December 17, 2011, 2:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Temple -7 1/2
Current Line: Temple -7
Opening Total: 46 1/2
Current Total: 50 1/2
Opening Money Line: Temple -255 / Wyoming +215
Current Money Line: Temple -275 / Wyoming +235

Temple and Wyoming kick off the bowl season in the New Mexico Bowl. Temple is a 7 point favorite in Albuquerque.

The 2011-12 bowl season gets underway with the New Mexico Bowl, which features two 8-4 teams. The Temple Owls, out of the MAC, are coached by Steve Addazio in his first year with the program. Temple has losses to Penn St, Toledo, Bowling Green, and Ohio. Only Bowling Green isn’t playing in a bowl this season. The Toledo game was a blowout but the other 3 losses are by a combined 11 points. Temple has won 3 games in a row. The Owls’ best win is over Maryland. Last year, Temple was also 8-4 but was denied a bowl berth. The Owls are playing in their fourth ever bowl game, and their second in 3 years. Temple hasn’t won a bowl game since the 1979 Garden State Bowl against California. It is the only bowl win school history.

Temple will take on the Wyoming Cowboys of the Mountain West Conference. The Cowboys are coached by Dave Christensen. Wyoming has losses to Nebraska, Utah St, TCU, and Boise St, who are all bowl teams. The Cowboys have wins over Bowling Green, San Diego St and Air Force. Wyoming has won 3 of their last 4 games. The Cowboys are playing in their 13th bowl game in school history and have a 6-6 record in those games.

This is the second ever meeting between Temple and Wyoming. The teams played in 1990 in Laramie. Wyoming won 38-23.

Temple averages 379.9 yards a game, including the nation’s seventh best rushing attack  with 256.7 yards a game. The passing game averages only 123.2 yards a game. Only 3 other teams in college football pass for less yards a game than the Owls. Temple scores 30.1 points a game. Temple has 12 turnovers and has allowed 21 sacks this season. The Owls are 82/181 on third and fourth down conversions, and 36/43 scoring in the red zone with 25 touchdowns. Temple has a top 15 ranked defense allowing 315.5 yards and just 13.8 points a game. Temple allows 192.9 passing yards and 122.6 rushing yards a game.  The Owls have forced 18 turnovers and 32 sacks. Temple opponents are 66/192 on third and fourth down conversions, and 18/23 scoring in the red zone with 15 touchdowns. Temple has one special teams touchdown this season on a kickoff return. The Owls have also blocked 5 kicks this season.

Templehas used 3 quarterbacks this season, Chester Stewart, Mike Gerardi, and Chris Coyer. Stewart is 54/83 passing (65.1% completions) for 743 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, along with 64 carries for 129 yards. Gerardi is 32/63 passing for 442 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Coyer is 22/38 passing for 294 yards, with 5 touchdowns, along with 57 carries, 491 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Coyer missed the last game of the season against Kent St but had started the previous three games. He is probable with a shoulder injury for the bowl game. If he can’t go, then Stewart or Girardi will see action, but passing is an afterthought in the Temple offense anyway. Running back Bernard Pierce has 248 carries, 1,381 yards, and 25 touchdowns, and 3 catches for 52 yards. Matt Brown has 142 carries, 867 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Brown returns kicks and punts, and has over 1,700 all-purpose yards. He has a kickoff return for a touchdown. Tight end Evan Rodriguez has 24 catches, 311 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Receiver Rod Streater has 18 catches, 340 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Joe Jones has 27 catches, 296 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Deon Miller has 18 catches, 253 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Kicker Brandon McManus is 46/46 on extra points and 13/19 on field goals with a long of 41 yards.

Wyoming averages 400.3 yards a game including 213.5 passing yards, and 186.8 rushing yards a game. The Cowboys score 27 points a game. Wyoming has 16 turnovers and has allowed 11 sacks this season. The Cowboys are 85/198 on third and fourth down conversions, and 34/43 scoring in the red zone with 28 touchdowns. Wyoming allows 432.3 yards a game on defense, including 200.9 passing yards and 231.4 rushing yards. The rush defense is ranked #115 out of 120 teams. The Cowboys allow 27 points a game. Wyoming has forced 31 turnovers and 22 sacks this season. Cowboy opponents are 72/177 on third and fourth down conversions, and 42/56 scoring in the red zone with 33 touchdowns. Wyoming has 4 defensive/special teams touchdowns, along with 4 blocked kicks.

Wyoming quarterback is 233/385 passing (60.5% completions) for 2,495 yards, with 18 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions along with 123 carries, 645 yards, and 10 rushing touchdowns. He also has a touchdown catch.  Running back Alvester Alexander has 145 carries, 678 yards, and 6 touchdowns, along with 11 catches for 187 yards. Back-up Ghaali Muhammed is out for the season with a leg injury. He had 60 carries, 379 yards, and 2 touchdowns, along with 8 catches for 52 yards. Brandon Miller has 61 carries, 333 yards, and 2 touchdowns, and 20 catches for 199 yards and a touchdown. Chris McNeill was the leading receiver but is out for the season with an arm injury. He also had a punt return for a touchdown. Mazi Ogbanna has 39 catches, 430 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Dominic Rufran has 35 catches, 378 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Josh Doctson has 32 catches, 361 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Robert Herron has 40 catches, 348 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Kicker Daniel Sullivan is 29/33 on extra points, and 7/10 on field goals with a long of 48 yards. Stuart Williams is 6/6 on extra points.

Wyoming is 7-5 against the spread and the total is 4-7-1 this season. Temple is 8-4 ATS and the total is 5-7 this season. The Owls are 10-1 ATS in non-conference games, 6-2 on grass, 19-7 after allowing 20 points or less in the last game, 8-3 after a win, 5-2 after a cover, and 1-4 against teams with winning records. The Cowboys are 4-0 ATS against teams with winning records, and as an underdog, 6-1 as an underdog of between 3.5 and 10 points, 4-1 after failing to cover, 11-4 after a win, 5-2 overall, and 10-4 on grass.

Temple is one of the strongest rushing teams in the nation, and Wyoming is terrible at stopping the run. You might think that means Temple should win in a rout, but Wyoming is a tough gritty team. Wyoming also has a more balanced offense, and if they can keep Temple and their dominating rushing attack off the field, the Cowboys have a shot at pulling off the upset. Wyoming is also familiar with the stadium in Albuquerque as they play conference rival New Mexico there every other year.

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