Wyoming is back in a bowl after a one-year absence. The Cowboys go back to the New Mexico Bowl to take on a scrappy Temple team.
The Pokes are looking to give head coach Dave Christensen his ninth win this season. But to do that, Wyoming must first beat Temple, which is no small feat. To win this game, Wyoming will need to do five things.
This is one of the most important things for the Pokes to do.
The Cowboys' rush defense is currently ranked 114th in the nation and is allowing 230 yards a game.
Temple boasts a big-time running back in Bernard Pierce, who will challenge the Cowboys defense. If Wyoming wants to have a chance in this game, they must stop Bernard Pierce and the rest of the Owls rushing attack.
This ties in to the rushing defense. Temple is going to get their yards on the ground. What Wyoming needs to do is build a quick lead.
If the Pokes can get a two-touchdown lead quickly, it would force the Owls to start going away from their rushing attack to their weaker passing game.
The passing game is definitely the weakness of the Owls and Wyoming can exploit that if their offense can get ahead quickly.
This may seem like common sense but Wyoming needs to make the most of every chance it can to get points. This includes field goals and PATs.
Wyoming has only missed four PATs and three field goals but they came in some close games. Against Air Force, Wyoming missed a PAT and the Pokes tried to go for two on the next two scores. This made the game much closer than it should have been.
In a game that should be a tight one, Wyoming must make their kicks.
Question: How do you stop a heavy rushing attack from scoring when your rushing defense is among the worst in the nation? Answer: You force turnovers.
And that's just what Wyoming does. Wyoming is first in the Mountain West with 31 turnovers. They also lead the Mountain West in fumbles forced.
Both of those are good for the Pokes, who need to find a way to slow down Bernard Pierce and the Owls.
If Wyoming can dictate the tempo of the game with long scoring drives (scoring is key), then they can put Temple on the ropes. Wyoming needs to take time off the clock and force Temple to throw it.
If the Cowboys do all these things, they will win the game.
My prediction: Wyoming, 31-24.
I believe Wyoming will get some turnovers and capitalize on them.