When bowl season kicks off all eyes will be on the Wyoming Cowboy and Temple Owls. Both teams enter with 8-4 records but took different paths to arrive here. The Owls completed their second straight 8-4 season and got those wins by hard running from Bernard Pierce and the quick Matt Brown. Meanwhile Wyoming has been surprising teams all season long with freshmen QB Brett Smith leading a much improve offense.
With the game being played at elevation and in December there is a chance that weather could play a role but it likely won't be a major one. Forecasts call for a high in the mid 40's with sunny skies. That will be certainly be warmer then several of the games that Wyoming played in this November. Certainly the weather can change quickly but right now it should be enjoyable temps for the fans and players. Cowboy fans are also sitting on the sunny side of stadium.
There are plenty of similarities between this game and the 2009 bowl when Wyoming faced Fresno State and their power running game. I've laid out several reasons why Wyoming will prevail in this game. If you want to make the event more enjoyable then check out our meal guide for the perfect New Mexico Bowl Party.
So back to more analysis of this game.
Why Temple Will Win
Honestly the player that has me worried the most on the Owl's offense is not the powerful Bernard Pierce or the speedy Matt Brown. It is the mobile quarterback Chris Coyer. Wyoming has struggled with containing QB's that can run this year. With Coyer not afraid to run the ball it adds another dimension to the Owls running game. Here are what dual threat quarterbacks have done against Wyoming this year. Chuckie Keeton of Utah State had four rushes for 44 yards, Garret Grayson ran 14 times for 91 yards and Mike Hoke of Weber State ran for 73 yards on 13 attempts. The Pokes did do a good job of bottling up Taylor Martinez for 37 yards on 12 carries.
Coyer and the rest of Owl backfield will also be protected by a massive offensive line. The line ranges in size from 310lbs up to 328lbs. That is plenty of beef up front and Wyoming has an undersized defensive line as well. If the Owls are able to keep the ball moving and eat up the clock it will wear down the Cowboys.
Why Wyoming Will Win
While Temple has a powerful run game the Cowboys are much more balanced. Brett Smith has the ability to throw for over 300 yards in a game or run for a 100 yards. Wyoming can find what works best against the Owls and exploit that weakness. Alvester Alexander has been known for having strong second halves of the season and this year is no different. In three of his last four games Alexander carried for at least 80 yards. He also plays very well in Albuquerque. In the 2009 New Mexico Bowl he ran for 137 yards against Fresno State and a touchdown. Last year against the Lobos he ran for 151 yards and three touchdowns.
The Cowboy defense has gotten some criticism this year based on the number of yards they give up. However what they do excel at is forcing turnovers. Their ranked fourth in nation in forcing fumbles and 32nd in interceptions. With a +15 turnover margin the Pokes rank fifth in the nation. Some turnovers are lucky but you don't end up +15 in the turnover margin for a season all on luck. Wyoming knows how to get the ball and that will be a key factor in this game.
I'm expecting a grind it out type of game here between these two teams. It will come down to the fourth quarter and the Cowboys will end up on top.
Wyoming 24 Temple 21