New Mexico Bowl, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and New Orleans Bowl Previews

December 16, 2011

It’s back!

The “most wonderful time of the year” is just a day away, and I could not be happier for the start of the 2011 bowl season. Whether or not you believe teams with a .500 record (or in one case, a sub-.500 record) deserve to be rewarded with a postseason game, the fact is they are. I couldn’t be happier, myself.

For the next three weeks, bowl games will be played around the country almost daily, all leading up to the National Championship game, which will be played on January 9th. Whether or not you are pleased with the rematch of LSU and Alabama, you have to admit that the 34 games prior to that make you at least a little bit excited for football over the holidays.

Thanks to ESPN’s College Bowl Mania game, I am interested in watching all 35 of the scheduled bowl games. I think it’s a great game, because it makes every bowl important. Hopefully, I can even make it out to one of them this year. This post officially begins what will be a string of “Bowl Preview” posts, in which I will break down the matchups, give my predictions and let you know how confident I am in my pick.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Temple vs. Wyoming

It’s a good thing that this is the first game on the first day of bowl season, because a lot of fans do actually tune into at least the first game of the day. The New Mexico Bowl features two of the better teams that will be in action on Saturday, and one of the better players that will play this entire bowl season. However, not that many people even know who he is.

Temple running back Bernard Pierce is a key reason why the Owls are seventh in the nation in rushing yards per game, and will also be one of the main reasons why his team will win the first bowl game of the season. The Owls are going up against a decent Wyoming squad that is very balanced offensively, but struggles at stopping the run. Pierce and the Owls missed out on a bowl game despite being eligible for one last season, so there is little doubt  that they are taking this game seriously. I have the Owls for 24 points in the College Bowl Mania game.

Final Score: 30-23 Temple

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Ohio vs. Utah State

It’s somewhat sad to see a team that normally plays in a warmer climate have to travel to a cold area to play their bowl game. However, in this case both teams should be well-adapted to the cold weather, as they play in it regularly. The only thing will be new to them is the blue turf, and even that will only affect one of the teams. Utah State played Boise State when the Broncos were members of the WAC.

Ohio’s Tyler Tettleton is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback that has the ability to make opposing defenses pay if they lay back in coverage. The problem is, Utah State has been very solid defensively this year, and normally gets good pressure on quarterbacks. If Ohio wants to win this game, they are going to have to find a way to slow down Aggies running back Robert Turbin, which is no small task. Otherwise, Utah State could walk away with a surprisingly easy victory, because the Bobcats may struggle offensively. I don’t think it will be all that easy, though. I have Utah State in this one, but only for 4 points.

Final Score: 20-14 Utah State

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

San Diego State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

To say that UL-Lafayette is excited to be playing in this bowl game would be an understatement. The Cajuns have not gone bowling since 1970, and this game is essentially being played in their back yard, so they should have the advantage as far as fan support is concerned. Winning this game will not be easy for the Sun Belt representatives, however, as they will be facing the third stud running back to suit up on the opening weekend of bowl games.

San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman is probably the most well-known of the three talented running backs that will be playing on Saturday, but still isn’t a household name like Montee Ball. Hillman will be a factor in this game, but the key to victory for the Aztecs may actually be their quarterback Ryan Lindley. Lindley has not had a spectacular season on paper, but has the ability to torch a suspect secondary like UL-Lafayette’s. The Cajuns will probably have some success in slowing down Hillman because they will focus on him, so Lindley will need to step up in order for San Diego State to win this game. I think he will, and I’m not sure how close this game will be. I have San Diego State for a whopping 32 points in the College Bowl Mania game.

Final Score: 34-20 San Diego State

Some of my more frequent readers may have noticed that this is the first post I have published on the blog since my Week 14 college football preview. This is because I am attempting to earn a badge on my Bleacher Report profile for taking part in a “Bowl Game Extravaganza” event. In other words, my non-preview college football related articles are being published on that site for the time being.

If you would like to view those articles, you can follow this link to my Bleacher Report profile.

Thanks everyone, and let the bowl season begin!

– K. Becks

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