By Ryan of The Sportmeisters
The NCAA post-season kicks off December 19th, with 33 games being played in a three week span. Seniors will get their last hurrah, and teams will attempt to end their season on the winning side, in the hopes of improving their status for the recruiting period that follows. The Sportmeisters will preview each of the 33 games that lie ahead, and provide our predictions as well. Let’s get to it!
New Mexico Bowl, December 19th, 4:30 PM, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Fresno State (8-4) vs. Wyoming (6-6)
About Fresno State
The Bulldogs got off to a slow start in 2009, going 1-3 in their first four games, including losses to BCS Bowl-bound Cincinnati and Boise State. They still ended up finishing third in the WAC, going 6-2 in the conference. Fresno State boasts one of the most prolific rushing attacks, averaging 231.6 yards per game, good enough for seventh in the Football Bowl Subdivision. That’s the key for the 19 th ranked offense (435.1 yards per game), that averages close to 35 points a game.
They are led by RB Ryan Mathews, who has rushed for 1,664 and 17 touchdowns during his junior season. He did suffer a concussion and missed a game late in the season, but rebounded in a non-conference win over Illinois, where he scored three touchdowns. He is expected to play in the game.
Fresno State has an issue getting pressure on the QB, as evident by their combined total of 18 sacks this season. Look for the Bulldogs to win if they continue to pound it out on the ground, and keep from turning the ball over (23 turnovers in 2009).
Members of the Mountain West Conference, the Cowboys clinched a bowl in their first season under Coach Dave Christensen. Wyoming never really got into a groove. When they got to 4-2, they quickly lost three straight, and mixed wins with losses to finish out at 6-6. When watching Wyoming, it’s almost like a Jekyll and Hyde performance. In six wins, they averaged 28 points a game.
In six losses, they averaged five points a game. Whether or not they win will all determine on which team shows up to play. Most of the pressure will fall on the defense to stop the high-powered Bulldog offense. Senior linebacker Weston Johnson is the leader of a young defense, and has 101 tackles (12.5 for loss), 2.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, and a forced fumble. With four players having over 100 tackles this season, the defense is on the field a lot, which means the offense will have to play better than their 112th yard per game average (298.7).
This is Fresno State’s 18 th bowl appearance (9-8), and their second straight year in the New Mexico Bowl. Wyoming is returning to the bowl scene for the first time since 2004, where their Las Vegas Bowl win snapped a six game bowl losing streak. Overall they are 5-6. The WAC currently holds a 2-1 advantage over the MWC in the New Mexico Bowl’s four year history.
Wyoming has a chance if their offense plays like the one in their six wins, rather than their six losses. The Fresno State defense gives up 27.8 points per game, so Wyoming has a chance. If they can somehow stop Mathews, and force Junior QB Ryan Colburn (2,333 yards, 18 touchdowns) to win through the air, an upset could be brewing.
However, for a Wyoming defense that gives up 4.35 yards a carry, playing against a Bulldog squad that averages 5.44 yards a carry, I see numerous time consuming drives, Fresno State taking an early lead, and an over matched Wyoming team being blown out.
Fresno State runs all over Wyoming, 35-21.