For the Wyoming Cowboys, who finished 2010 with a 3-9 record, just making a bowl this season is a huge accomplishment, but a victory in the 2011 New Mexico Bowl would make their rapid improvement that much sweeter. The Temple Owls, meanwhile, lost ex-coach Al Golden to the Miami Hurricanes, but under Steve Addazio they've managed to equal their 8-4 record from last season, and enter this game with an opportunity to best their 2010 season.
The Cowboys, led by freshman quarterback Brett Smith, will need to work to generate offense against a Temple defense that allowed the third lowest points per game in the FBS this season. That match up between the Cowboys offense and Owls defense figures to be the pivotal one in this game, as the Cowboys tallied less than 20 points only three times this season, while the Owls defense allowed more than 20 points on merely two occasions in 2011.
For the Cowboys defense, it comes down to one thing: stopping star Owls RB Bernard Pierce. Pierce toted the rock 248 times this season, amassing 25 touchdowns and 1,381 yards. Needless to say that the Cowboys defense, which surrendered over 230 yards per game on the season, will be tested.
Game date, time: 12:00 pm MT, Saturday, December 17
Location: University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
TV channel: ESPN
Series history: Wyoming leads 1-0.
For more on this game, visit MAC blog The Hustle Belt, Mountain West blog Mountain West Connection and Wyoming blog Cowboy Altitude. Head over to SB Nation NCAA Football for more on the bowl season.