New Mexico Bowl: Temple Owls (8-4 SU 8-4 ATS) vs. Wyoming Cowboys (8-4 SU 7-5 ATS), University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2 PM ET Saturday December 17, 2011 on ESPN
by Jason Green, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TU -6.5 /WY +6.5
Over/Under Total: 47
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The Temple Owls are the betting favorite in the New Mexico Bowl and it is not hard to see why, as they have one of the nation’s best rushing offenses (ranking 7th in the nation) while the Wyoming Cowboys have one of the worst run defenses (ranking 115th in the nation).
The Cowboys played in the New Mexico Bowl back in 2009 and beat Fresno State 35-28 in OT.
Both teams come to Albuquerque playing well, as the Cowboys won 3 of their last 4 games of the season and Temple won their last 3 games. In their last games Wyoming beat Colorado State 22-19 and Temple beat Kent State 34-16.
First MAC team selection RB Bernard Pierce rushed for 1,381 yards with 25 TD this season and he not the only weapon out of the backfield for Temple with RB Matt Brown chiming in to rush for 867 yards and 5 TD. The Cowboys had major issues defending the run this season and in their last game against Colorado State and even though they won they gave up 263 rushing yards. Don’t look for Wyoming to stop the run in this game, as Temple will rack up a ton of yards on the ground.
There are a couple of things the Cowboys have going for them on defense. First, Temple only ranks 117th in the nation in passing yards per game and they will be starting either Mike Gerardi and Chester Stewart under center with starter Chris Coyer out for this game due to an injury. Second, the Wyoming D did rank 4th in the nation in turnovers, as they had 18 fumble recoveries as well as 13 interceptions.
Temple has the nation’s 19th ranked pass defense and they will be facing freshman QB Brett Smith who passed for 2,495 yards with 18 TD and there is a concern since leading WR Chris McNeil may miss this game with an arm injury. Smith will have a decent game, but not pass for a ton of yards facing a solid Owls’ pass defense.
Temple also has a solid run defense ranking 26th in the nation and they not only have to contain RB Alvester Alexander (678 yards 6 TD), but also Smith, who is the 2nd leading rusher for the Cowboys. Alexander did not rush for over 100 yards all season and that trend will continue in this game. The Cowboys will look to establish the run in this game and they will run the ball well, but not go for a ton of yards on the ground like the Owls will.
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Temple ranks 3rd in the nation in scoring defense only giving up an average of 13.8 ppg and their D will keep Wyoming from lighting up the scoreboard.
This season Wyoming had an Over/Under record of 4-7-1 and Temple had an Over/Under record of 5-7.
Wyoming is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games as an underdog of 3.5-10 points, 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games overall, and they have an Under record of 4-1 in their last 5 games playing a team with a winning record.
Temple is only 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games when they have played teams with a winning record, 10-1 ATS in their last 11 non-conference games, and they have an Over record of 4-0 in their last 4 games.
Jason’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Wyoming comes from a bigger conference and they played a tougher schedule on the season playing 2 ranked teams while Temple did not play one. However, that will not matter in this game, as the Owls will dominate this game on the ground and their defense will play well. Take Temple to cover the 6.5-point spread in this game and I also think the Under is a good pick. With Temple playing good D and since they will control the clock on the ground this will be a low scoring game.
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