Yup, I'm Back
By Jordan Lauterbach
Gildan New Mexico Bowl- Temple vs. Wyoming, 2 p.m.- Wyoming’s strength is in the running game. They rank in the top 35 in rushing (32). That category is the only one that the Cowboys sit in the top 60 in the country. Production wise, it’s an even split between running back Alvester Alexander and freshman quarterback Brett Smith. Alexander averages just a hair under five yards a carry and has found the end zone six times. Smith has scored 10 touchdowns on the ground and has thrown for 18.
Wyoming won three of its last four games, losing only to Boise State on November 26. Smith threw two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 22-19 season finale win over Colorado State. Those turnovers left the Cowboy quarterback with 8 in 2011.
Temple finished the year ranked third in defense. The pure statistical ranking is a bit misleading because of the schedule and two shutouts in the middle of the season. However, they did give Penn State a game, losing by four in week three. After losing dominant pass rusher Mo Wilkerson to the NFL, the continued defensive dominance is certainly impressive.
Question of the game: Can Wyoming’s freshman quarterback keep the Cowboys in the game against Temple’s strong defense in a bowl game environment?
The Pick: Temple
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Ohio vs. Utah State, 5:30pm- Ohio was a half away from capturing the MAC title three weeks ago. The Bobcats were up 20-0 on Northern Illinois at the half before it all came crashing down. 16 fourth quarter points and Ohio was watching the Huskies hoist a trophy that was thought to be in the bag at the break.
It’s hard to determine how this type of loss will affect a team headed into a bowl. A second straight year playing on the first day of bowl season may not sit well with a team that was so close to a championship.
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Tettleton had a great regular season, throwing 26 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. He also ran for nine touchdowns, seven more than senior running back Dante Harden.
Fun fact: Ohio has never won a bowl game.
Utah State’s fifteen minutes of national fame came in the first week of the season when they took Auburn to the brink in Jordan-Hare Stadium. That 42-38 loss took a lot out of the Aggies. The lost four of their next six games, making bowl eligibility look like a pipe dream. However, five wins to end the year tumbled them into the first Saturday of “the season.”
That’s the most fascinating contrast to this game. Ohio is better, but Utah State is hotter- and presumably less angry about the way the season ended. The Aggies can also run the ball. Robert Turbin ran for 1416 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Question of the game: Is Ohio still hanging their heads over the MAC championship game?
The Pick: Utah State
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: San Diego State vs. Louisiana- Lafayette, 9p.m. - A veritable home game will do the Ragin’ Cajans some good. Four of their final five games came away from home, including a 45-37 heartbreaking loss at Arizona in the final week of the year.
Luckily for Louisiana-Lafayette, they were already bowl eligible when the road stretch came into play, running off six straight wins after an opening week loss to Oklahoma State. They were 2-3 once the win streak came to an end.
Ragin’ Cajun quarterback Blaine Gautier threw for over 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. Gautier is, by far, the main weapon on the Louisiana-Layfayette offense.
San Diego State finished 8-4 in the first year of the post- Hoke era. They put 35 on Boise State in a loss on November 19. Quarterback Ryan Lindley threw 20 touchdowns this year and 8 interceptions (3 of which came in the same game). Running back Ronnie Hillman scored 19 touchdowns.
Question of the game: Ranked 83rd in defense, does Louisiana have enough on defense to stop Lindley and Hillman?
The Pick: San Diego State
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