2011 New Mexico Bowl Temple vs Wyoming Odds, Free Picks and Predictions on ESPN Saturday 12/17

Free College Football Bowl Picks and Spreads: Temple vs Wyoming 2011 New Mexico Bowl Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN Saturday 12/17/11: Although the Temple Owls and Wyoming Cowboys aren’t exactly considered college football powerhouses, both programs won eight games this season. The two overachieving teams will kick off Bowl Week in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl this Saturday, with a nine-win season on the line for both sides. Not to mention the fact that a bowl victory would be a big statement, especially for a Temple team competing in just its fourth bowl game ever. Despite being the less-experienced team in the postseason, the Owls are seven-point favorites in this one.

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Offensively, the teams are about as different as night and day. Wyoming runs a fast-paced spread attack, while Temple is powered by a run-heavy attack. The end result has been almost identical on the scoreboard, with the Owls averaging 29.7 points and the Cowboys averaging 27.0 points. Despite the clash of styles, it isn’t out of the question that a close game could be the end result.

The key matchup in this meeting will likely be the Temple rushing attack against the Cowboys’ defense. The Owls pile up 261.6 yards per game on the ground, which ranks seventh in the country. Meanwhile, Wyoming struggles to defend the run, giving up more than 230 yards per game to opposing rushers. With its top-10 ground attack facing a bottom-10 rush defense, Temple has an obvious edge that it needs to exploit.

At the center of the Owls’ ground game is running back Bernard Pierce. He ran for more than 1,300 yards this season and was third in the country with 25 touchdowns. Pierce is a bruising runner inside the tackles, and he averaged 5.6 yards per carry this season. There is a good chance he could wear down the vulnerable Cowboys’ defense, allowing the Owls to control the clock and the tempo. Pierce could also soften the defense for fellow rusher Matt Brown, who ran for more than 800 yards in his own right on more than six yards per carry.

Granted, the Cowboys have a solid offense to fall back on as well. However, they won’t have an easy time against the Owls’ defense. Temple is third in the country in terms of point allowed, surrendering just 13.8 a contest. That being said, Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith has the versatility to pressure even the toughest defense. He threw for almost 2,500 yards this year and ran for more than 600 yards, while scoring a combined 28 touchdowns. Smith also benefits from en excellent offensive line that has allowed just 11 sacks all season.

In the end, Temple’s ground game should control the action all afternoon. Pierce and company have been pounding opposing defenses all year, and now they get a shot at one of the most generous units in the country. If the Owls control the clock and put points on the board while keeping Smith and the Cowboys’ offense off the field, Temple is going to be tough to beat. Smith is an X-factor with his playmaking ability, but the Owls’ defense is stout enough to keep him and check. Temple should cover the spread in this one.

Prediction: Temple Owls (-7) Cover the Spread

Free College Football Picks and NCAAF Predictions: Temple -7 to cover the spread

New Mexico Bowl: Temple vs Wyoming
Date: 12/17/11
Time: 2:00 PM EST on ESPN
Vegas Odds Favorite: Temple -7 Total: Over/Under 50.5

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