Well, Wyoming fans, we're headed to the New Mexico bowl vs. the Temple Owls.
Temple is from the MAC conference and finished with an 8-4 record, with losses to Penn State, Toledo, Ohio and Bowling Green (who the Pokes beat on the road).
The Owls have a rushing attack that is ranked seventh in the country in yards and a defense that is third in the country in points allowed.
Our Pokes' biggest concern should be stopping Temple's top-notch running game, as the Pokes' main weakness all year has been their run defense. This is a big reason why Temple is favored by seven in this game.
Temple sure does seem to have a lot going for them, as they are ranked higher than the Pokes in both points for and points against. But Wyoming isn't doomed by any stretch of the imagination.
Wyoming has a great chance to win the New Mexico Bowl this year for several reasons. Here's why the Wyoming Cowboys will emerge victorious from their battle with the Temple Owls.
1. Continue To Excel in the Turnover Margin
The Pokes defense may allow a lot of yards, but they have a knack for getting the ball back for their offense. The defense forced three turnovers last week against Colorado State and have a pick-six of Kellen Moore to their name. The Cowboys were plus-five in the turnover margin in their loss to TCU.
If one thing can win or lose a game for any football team, it's turnovers and takeaways. The way the Cowboys have forced turnovers all year has kept the momentum on their side in almost every game this year. The bend-but-don't-break mentality has been a recipe for Wyoming's success this year.
2. Keep the Offense Balanced
The great thing about this Cowboy offense is that they don't rely on either their ground or air attack individually for success. They have success both ways.
True freshman quarterback Brett Smith (who hasn't looked like a freshman at all this year) has been a big part of this balanced Wyoming attack. He has accounted for twenty-eight touchdowns this year and has scored passing, running and even receiving touchdowns.
Coach Dave Christensen's spread-style offense has been very effective this year, as the Pokes have averaged twenty-seven points per game.
3. While Temple Is Also 8-4, Wyoming Has Had a Tougher Schedule
Temple has lost games to Toledo, Penn State, Ohio and Bowling Green.
Wyoming has lost to Nebraska, TCU, Boise and Utah State, and beaten Bowling Green on the road.
Looking at their schedules, Temple has played one ranked team and lost to a team that's not bowl eligible. All of Wyoming's losses are to bowl-eligible teams and three are to teams currently ranked in the BCS Top 25.
The tougher schedule Wyoming has had may be the reason for the difference in statistics as as far as yards per game and points per game go. It also accounts for the Pokes having an 8-4 record. Given Temple's schedule, Wyoming easily could have been a nine-plus win team.
So long as Wyoming takes advantage of their turnover opportunities that they will undoubtedly create and keep the offense balanced and patient, they will take the favored Owls down in the New Mexico Bowl.
This team has overcome the amount of yards they have allowed on the ground enough times this year, and will have extra time to prepare. I have confidence in our Pokes.
Be excited, Cowboy fans; we're going bowling!
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