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Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Temple - Wyoming Preview

The image you see here, a recurring theme in Temple's season to date, is likely to continue in their bowl matchup (and likely victory) against Wyoming.
The image you see here, a recurring theme in Temple's season to date, is likely to continue in their bowl matchup (and likely victory) against Wyoming.

Seems only fair that since my adopted team has the first bowl game of the season (a mere nine days away!) that they be the first to have their exploits previewed.

A peek past the basic statistics shows a game that is unlikely to be as close as surface skimming might indicate, but then *insert "that's why they don't play the games on paper" cliche here*.

The only other time these two teams ever played each other was a 38-23 victory for the Pokes back in September of 1990, so I decided to go retro and use the 1990 helmets below the fold this time - which, interestingly enough, means essentially the current helmet with a center stripe for both teams.

Now, about the actual football...there are many questions to be answered, so lets race past the jump to see what we can divine from what has happened thusfar this season - aka "Fun With Bullet Points."

So first, let's take a look at the overall statistical matchup:

Temple_old4_medium Wyoming_old9_medium

December 17th at 2:00 PM on ESPN

Total Offense 679.9 (67) TEM Total Defense 432.4 (99)
Rush Offense 256.7 (7) TEM Rush Defense 230.2 (115)
Pass Offense 123.3 (117) WYO Pass Defense 202.3 (36)
Total Defense 315.5 (15) TEM Total Offense 398.6 (50)
Rush Defense 122.6 (26) PUSH Rush Offense 185.1 (32)
Pass Defense 192.9 (19) TEM Pass Offense 213.5 (73)

When Temple Has the Ball

Is the Temple offense one dimensional? Absolutely, but they are very good at that one dimension, running the ball. There is still some uncertainty as to whether sophomore quarterback Chris Coyer will be able to return from his shoulder injury in time for the game. It would be nice if he did, but I don't think he'll be necessary (nor do I think he'll be back if he's less than 100% for that very reason).

Between Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown, the Owls put up the seventh best rushing attack in FBS this year, and they get to face the sixth worst run defense in FBS in the Cowboys. Bowling Green's unimpressive run defense shut them down to the tune of 66 yards, and they weren't much better against Penn State. Even so, I am confident of two things:

  • Temple faced three of the twelve worst FBS run defenses this season in Akron, Maryland and Ball State. They racked up 940 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground in those games.
  • At their best, Wyoming's run defense is on par with the ones I just mentioned. They gave up 200-plus rushing yards eight times, including 390 rush yards to TCU.

When Wyoming Has the Ball

Temple has seen this before - the Cowboys have an impressive freshman at quarterback in Brett Smith, who has passed for almost 2,500 yards and 18 touchdowns while competing with Alvester Alexander for the team lead in rushing yards and netting another 10 scores on the ground.

Temple struggled with a similarly versatile quarterback in Tyler Tettleton in their 35-31 loss to Ohio earlier this season, got doused by a run-focused Toledo attack, and I don't doubt they would have struggled similarly with a Chandler Harnish-led Northern Illinois squad. That being said, I'm confident in three things:

  • Brett Smith is certainly no Chandler Harnish, and he's probably not Tyler Tettleton either - at least not yet.
  • The only two teams Wyoming has faced with defenses that are at Temple's level (Boise and Nebraska) outscored them by a combined 50-14 and outgained them 806-312 in the first three quarters, both shutting them down until the last 10 minutes when the game was essentially over.
  • The one thing teams have done consistently in Wyoming's losses is force turnovers...and guess what Temple's defense is good at?

At first glance, you see two 8-4 squads and think it might be a neat-o matchup. Unfortunately, this game is about as lopsided as it gets. I fully expect this game to play out one of two ways:

  • Much like the Cowboys' games against BCS top-20 teams, they might hang around early if their defense can force a turnover or two, but eventually their porous run defense will wear down and the game will end up rather lopsided (those three losses were by an average of 35-16, with some late Wyoming scores for pride's sake).
  • Much like Temple's three games against equally poor run defenses, the Owls will plow through the defense early and often, using Bernard Pierce to bruise the Cowboys into submission, and then Matt Brown to control the clock...and rack up even more yards and points (those three wins were by an average of 41-3).
Final Prediction: Temple 42, Wyoming 14. Bernard Pierce runs for 175 yards and 3 TD, Matt Brown runs for another 120 yards and 2 TD.