Tag:New Mexico Bowl
Posted on: January 12, 2012 1:29 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 12:22 pm
 

1-to-35: Ranking the 2011 bowl games



Posted by Jerry Hinnen


Each December, there's plenty of rankings out there as to how good each bowl should be. But if that's the "before," what about the "after"? Here's the Eye on CFB's (highly subjective) ranking of all 35 bowls from the 2011-2012 college football postseason, best game to worst.

1. Rose. Unlike certain other bowls we could name (who happen to rhyme with "Schmalamo"), the Rose's outburst of offense came despite the presence of legitimate championship-level defenses--making the punch and counter-punch between Russell Wilson and Montee Ball on one side and LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas on the other like haymakers in a heavyweight prizefight. Add in college football's greatest venue, a down-to-the-wire ending, and even the aesthetic battle between the Badgers' understated uniforms and the Ducks' glitter factory helmets, and you've got the best bowl-watching experience of the year.

2. Fiesta. Andrew Luck vs. Justin Blackmon at the top of their powers -- at the top of the powers of anyone at their positions in college football -- would be worth a top-five placement alone. Luck vs. Blackmon and 79 points and overtime drama? That's worth top-two.

3. Alamo Bowl. To call the defenses in this game abominably porous would be an insult to pores (and abominations). But the Alamo is a random weeknight bowl game--just as no one wants to watch an Oscar-baiting 17th-century literary adaptation on their Guys' Night Out, so no one tuned into the Alamo for rugged defense and awesome punting. Thankfully, what Baylor and Washington gave us was the college football equivalent of four hours of Jason Statham shooting explosions.

4. Outback. Come for Kirk Cousins leading the most unlikely comeback this side of the whooping crane, stay for Mark Richt nominating himself for the (dis)honor of "World's Fraidiest-Cat Football Coach." Oh, and triple overtime.

5. New Orleans. We'd ask if you could remember this thriller between Louisiana-Lafayette and San Diego State from the bowl season's opening night, but we don't think anyone who watched could forget Ragin' Cajun kicker Brett Baer deliriously celebrating his last-second game-winner if they tried.

6. Military. One word: #MACtion. And two numbers: 42-41. And, all right, eight more words to help do this game justice: last-minute do-or-die failed fake extra point holder-kicker option.

7. Sun. We're suckers for any game featuring the triple-option (see the Air Force game ranked one spot above), and Utah's 4th-and-14 touchdown conversion to send the game into OT was one of the more dramatic single plays of the entire bowl season. That 3-0 anti-classic between Pitt and Oregon State was a particularly distant memory in El Paso this year.

8. Belk. A matchup of Utterly Average ACC team vs. Utterly Average Big East team -- in a bowl sponsored by a department store that thinks Macy's is way too wild and edgy -- should have been one of the snoozers of the year. Instead, Mike Glennon caught fire, Louisville mounted a spirited comeback, and this wound up one of the better games of the postseason.

9. Little Caesars. The quality of play in this game at times was like ... well, have you ever actually eaten the pizza of the sponsor? But Western Michigan receiver Jordan White put on a spectacular show (13 catches, 249 yards), the teams combined for 69 points, and the Boilers special teams pulled off two onsides kicks and a kick return for TD. Tasty!

10. Famous Idaho Potato. OK, OK: we're giving this game (which was less-than-must-see-viewing for much of the first 55 minutes) a slight bonus for its killer logo. But we're giving it a much bigger bonus for the pulse-pounding final drive from quarterback Tyler Tettleton and the Bobcats for the first bowl win in program history.

11. Armed Forces. If you're going to be a sorta-dull game between two sorta-unmemorable teams, better come up with a memorable play and/or a big finish. Riley Nelson's game-winning fake spike touchdown to become college football's answer to Dan Marino just about did the trick.

12. Sugar. Another for the "ugly game, fascinating ending" file, but this was Michigan doing their damnedest to be Michigan again and Virginia Tech doing their damnedest to avoid the rabbit's feet and horseshoes and four-leaf clovers falling out of the Wolverines' pockets -- Danny Coale most especially -- and it was in New Orleans. You didn't quit watching, did you?

13. Poinsettia. Not a classic, but three-and-a-half back-and-forth hours with a feisty Louisiana Tech team and an underrated TCU squad most definitely qualified as "serviceable." Think of this year's Poinsettia as the quality burger-and-fries plate from the local joint down the street--not mind-blowing, but spend a few weeks in Peru, where they don't have burgers or college football, and you'll crave a Poinsettia Bowl so badly you could scream.

14. Orange. In the space of about an hour, Dana Holgorsen's evisceration of Clemson went from thrilling to discomfiting to boring to morbidly fascinating to -- once we all realized the Mountaineers weren't going to hit triple digits -- back to boring again. Not every game that hits 100 points is one for the DVD vaults, as it turns out.

15. Liberty. Give me Cincinnati defeating Vanderbilt in surprisingly convincing, mildly entertaining fashion or give me death! (Actually, we've got that first thing already, so no need to worry about providing the second, thanks.)

16. Chick-Fil-A. For 2.5 quarters, this was a delightful shootout with all the requisite trickery you'd hope for from a game involving Gus Malzahn. Then Virginia remembered that it was not only Virginia, but proud ACC member Virginia, and the fun was over.

17. Meineke Car Care. Seriously, Texas A&M, we didn't tune in to see you only flirt with blowing a huge lead against a team that hasn't won a bowl game since approximately the Grover Cleveland administration.

18. Capital One. This game featured an abundance of must-watch plays -- Alshon Jeffery catching a  bomb, Alshon Jeffery hauling in a half-ending Hail Mary, Alshon Jeffery getting ejected for fighting -- but aside from, well, Alshon Jeffery, there wasn't much to it.

19. Cotton Bowl. The 15 seconds of Joe Adams' punt return, the 10 seconds of Jarius Wright's touchdown, and the 5 minutes when it looked like Kansas State might mount yet another smashing comeback were riveting stuff. The other 54:35? Not so much.

20. BCS National Championship. A great game, if you're the sort of fan who enjoys watching nature shows where a pride of lions tear a wildebeest to pieces because the wildebeest can't complete a downfield pass to save its life.

21. TicketCity. If he'd stuggled, he'd have been called a fraud; because he ripped Penn State's D into tiny shreds, no one paid attention. Which is why we're working on a sitcom pilot right now called Case Keenum Can't Win.

22. Gator. When one team's special teams scores just one fewer touchdown than the two offenses combined (as Florida's did), it's safe to say you're not watching a classic.

23. GoDaddy.com. Thanks to a 31-0 run from Northern Illinois, what was expected to be a nailbiting shootout ended up the biggest disappointment since that "unrated web content" we checked out.

24. Champs Sports. It wasn't pretty, but at least the Seminoles and Irish were trying their best ... to make us wish they'd just aired a repeat of the 1993 meeting instead.

25. Las Vegas. College football produces a lot of emotions, but from the neutral perspective, it's rare that one of them is outright legitimate anger. Seeing Kellen Moore forced to end his career slumming it against an Arizona State team that checked out in early November sure turned the trick, though.

26. Independence. The Tar Heels came out so flat, and were finished off so quickly, that we're pretty sure the only lovely parting gift they walked away with was "Independence Bowl: the Board Game."

27. Music City. Mississippi State turned the ball over four times, and Wake Forest averaged 2.9 yards per-play. If Hank Williams or some other old-time country artist had come to Nashville to write a sad song about a sad bowl game, this is the game they'd use for inspiration.

28. Insight. Sadly, the only "insight" we got from this game was that Vegas oddsmakers -- who had the Sooners installed as the biggest favorite of the entire bowl season -- know what they're talking about. And who didn't know that already?

29. Holiday. It wasn't that long ago when Jeff Tedford's Cal and Mack Brown's Texas squaring off would have been appointment television. This game was, too, though in the sense that it was the sort of game you made an appointment somewhere else to avoid viewing.

30. Hawaii. Nevada and Southern Mississippi were collectively as sharp as your average butter knife, but let's see you spend a week chilling in Hawaii and then play a quality football game. The best players the NFL has to offer try it every single year and haven't succeeded yet.

31. Pinstripe. The only thing we remember from this game was our wish to travel back to, say, 1998, and explain to a random college football fan that in 2011, Rutgers would win a bowl game in Yankee Stadium that would give them the nation's longest postseason winning streak. (We're still not sure it's actually happening.)

32. Beef 'O' Brady's. Newton's Second Law of Bowl Aesthetics: Whensoever a Game Produces Fewer Offensive Touchdowns Than the Game Has Apostrophes in its Title, That Game Shall Be, Verily, Entirely Terrible.

33. New Mexico. We'd waited so long to be able to sit down and watch a college bowl game, and by halftime we were sort of wishing we'd gotten to wait a little bit longer.

34. BBVA Compass. For two straight years, Pitt has been forced to play in Legion Field on a January weekday afternoon in front of no one under an interim coach against a nondescript opponent. Vs. SMU the Panthers looked like they'd much rather be off somewhere doing something much more fun, like peeling potatoes with their teeth--and we don't blame them a bit.

35. Kraft Fight Hunger. Comedian Patton Oswalt once called a certain famous KFC product a "failure pile in a sadness bowl." Capitalize that B, and we can't think of a better way to describe 2011 Illinois "battling" 2011 UCLA.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.
Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2011 5:32 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Temple 37, Wyoming 15



Posted by Chip Patterson


TEMPLE WON. The Owls jumped out a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter and never looked back, relying on their constricting defense and bruising rushing attack to wear down Wyoming for a 37-15 victory in the New Mexico Bowl.

HOW TEMPLE WON: Temple established the tone on the very first drive of the game. Running back Bernard Pierce carried the ball eight times on a 13 play touchdown drive that totaled 90 yards and lasted nearly half of the opening quarter. Pierce continued to be the focal point of the Owls offense, rushing 25 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Temple's defense also lived up to their national ranking, holding Wyoming to 267 yards of total offense (most of that late in the game) and picking off MWC Freshman of the Year Brett Smith three times.

WHEN TEMPLE WON: With time winding down in the second quarter, Smith led Wyoming on an impressive touchdown drive to cut Temple's lead to 21-7 with just 37 seconds left before halftime. The Cowboys were set to receive the opening kickoff in the third quarter, and momentum appeared to be swinging back in their direction. But the Owls delivered a swift and punishing answer as wide receiver Rod Streater slipped behind the secondary for a 61 yard catch-and-run touchdown. Wyoming entered halftime deflated, and the Cowboys never regained control of the game.

WHAT TEMPLE WON: After three crushing four-point losses, Temple delivered one last time on the big stage to cap a strong first season for head coach Steve Addazio. The Owls 9-win season matches their best finish since joining the MAC, a credit to Addazio's staff for keeping this talented bunch on track after Al Golden's departure. It was also the second bowl win in program history, the first since 1979.

WHAT WYOMING LOST: Dave Christensen did agree in principle to a contract extension before the game, so Saturday's loss wasn't ALL bad for the Cowboys. It was a rough performance for Brett Smith, who will likely try to use this game as motivation as he returns to lead Wyoming next season.

BOWL GRADE: C-minus. It was football, and we were happy to be watching.  But the sleepy second half and Brett Smith's inability to create the big play eliminated much of the intrigue in this matchup.  Props to the Owls for the W, but this one won't make anyone's Top 10 list at the end of the postseason. 

THAT WAS CRAZY: The ESPN cameras caught a Wyoming fan wearing very little but a barrel. Thanks to help from Adam Kramer, of Kegs 'N Eggs, we discovered the backstory behind this passionate Cowboys fan.




How many experts picked the Owls to take care of business on Saturday? Check out the entire slate of selections at the Expert's Bowl Picks.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:32 pm
 

New Mexico Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Chip Patterson


A look at the key matchup that could decide the New Mexico Bowl

Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming vs. Temple's defense

Temple's two strongest advantages heading into the New Mexico Bowl are their productive rushing attack and one of the nation's stingiest defensive units. The Owls rank third in the country in scoring defense, with their 13.8 points allowed per game trails only Alabama and LSU. But Wyoming has one weapon to counter Temple's touted D, and he is still just getting warmed up to the college game.

True freshman quarterback Brett Smith graduated early from high school in order to join the Cowboys football program in January, and the offense has not been the same since the 6-foot-3 dual-threat from Salem, Ore. won the starting job. Smith threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns while adding 44 yards and a score on the ground in the Cowboys season-opening win and has been shredding school and conference records ever since. He finished the regular season with 28 total touchdowns (18 passing, 10 rushing) and only eight interceptions, throwing for 2,495 yards and finishing second on the team in rushing with 645 yards. His 3,140 yards of total offense broke Andy Dalton's single-season MWC freshman record, and earned him Mountain West Freshman of the Year honors.

Smith is dynamic and explosive enough to keep the Owls guessing, and Wyoming will need him to deliver big plays and first downs to keep Temple's rushing attack off the field. The Owls' defensive numbers are impressive, especially considering some of the high-scoring teams in the MAC this season. But Temple did benefit from missing Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan in the regular-season schedule. NIU's Chandler Harnish and EMU's Alex Gillett were arguably the best rushing quarterbacks in the conference, with Harnish collecting conference MVP honors at the end of the season.

So before we can crown Temple's defense as the best in the conference, they need to contain a dangerous dual-threat quarterback. Before Brett Smith can be considered the future of Cowboys football, he'd like to deliver a bowl win. It's the matchup that will likely determine the winner of the first bowl game in the 2011-2012 schedule.

For more New Mexico Bowl coverage, check out the Keys to the Game and the latest news at New Mexico Bowl Pregame

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:04 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:07 pm
 

Keys to the Game: New Mexico Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

TEMPLE WILL WIN IF: The Owls can control the game with their defense and a steady ground game. Even in the high-scoring MAC, Temple's defense ranked in the Top 15 nationally in total defense and trail only LSU and Alabama giving up just 13.8 points per game. Complimenting that stout defense is a Top 10 rushing attack led by First Team All-MAC running back Bernard Pierce. First-year head coach Steve Addazio has had the benefit of relying on a steady ground game to keep scores low and take the pressure off a revolving door quarterback scenario. Redshirt sophomore Chris Coyer is expected to get the start under center after injuring his throwing in the regular season finale against Kent State. Coyer served mostly as a rushing threat/change-of-pace quarterback until taking over the starting duties in the last month of the season. If Pierce and backup Matt Brown can get going early, they should be able to rack up the yards against a Cowboys defense giving up roughly 230 yards per game on the ground.

WYOMING WILL WIN IF: The Cowboys can force turnovers and create the big play on offense. Knowing Temple's strengths on defense and in the rushing game, Wyoming will need to take some shots to create explosive plays and rattle the Owls. Thankfully, their best weapon for that task seems up to the challenge. Dual-threat freshman quarterback Brett Smith shattered Andy Dalton's MWC freshman records for total offense with 3,140 yards passing and rushing on the season, earning him conference Freshman of the Year honors. Steve Addazio has gone as far as to compare Smith to a certain former Florida quarterback you might have seen in the NFL headlines recently. Defensively, the Cowboys have to find a way to disrupt Temple's rhythm by creating turnovers. Wyoming led the Mountain West in fumbles recovered and turnover margin, and will need to win that battle in claim another New Mexico Bowl win.

X-FACTOR: Adjustment to the altitude. University Stadium in Albuquerque is roughly 5,000 feet above sea level, creating an atmosphere that many athletes over time have had difficulty adjusting to in regards to getting enough oxygen during competition. With only two bowl appearances since 1979 - and the last one played in nearby Washington, D.C.- it is safe to assume Temple is not used to dealing with extraneous climate factors on a regular basis. On the other hand, Wyoming stormed back from a 28-17 fourth quarter deficit to eventually beat the Ryan Matthews-led Fresno State Bulldogs in double overtime in this same bowl game two seasons ago. As Temple's touted defense works to contain Brett Smith late into the fourth quarter, they'll need every gasp of air they can get to pull out a victory in Addazio's first season at the helm.

For much more on Wyoming and Temple, cruise over to our New Mexico Bowl Pregame and get ready for Saturday's kickoff.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 12, 2011 3:32 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Bowl Game Picks: Who Do You Like?

Posted by Chip Patterson

Every week the CBSSports.com college football staff offers our picks straight up and against the spread in the Expert Picks. But we aren't the only ones who get to offer our opinions on the outcome of the weekend's best games. In our weekly "Who Do You Like" Picks, we give you - the readers - a chance to weigh in on how you think the upcoming slate of games will play out.

After getitng your opinion on the BCS bowls last week, we move our attention to some of the high-profile non-BCS bowls in the weeks ahead.  Let us know how you think these cross-conference showdowns will play out in the days leading up to the National Championship Game.       

You can see the results of the voting every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on Inside College Football, airing on the CBS Sports Network.



Come debate your picks for the week with other college football fans at the new Eye On College Football Facebook page. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: June 13, 2011 12:55 pm
 

Wyoming down to two scholarship QBs

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Mountain West wants an automatic BCS bid. To accomplish this, it needs a forgiving mood from the BCS powers-that-be and strong performances on the field. It can count on those from the likes of Boise State, TCU (this season, anyway) and Fresno State. But it also needs better performances from the woeful bottom half of the conference, where the four teams at the bottom of the standings -- Wyoming, UNLV, Colorado State and hapless New Mexico -- went a staggering 2-34 in 2010 against all other FBS competition.

It looked like Wyoming wasn't going to be keeping that kind of company after their breakthrough 2009 season, in which first-year coach Dave Christensen led them to a 7-6 record and a thrilling New Mexico Bowl upset of Fresno. But it's all been downhill since then, as the Cowboys stumbled to a 3-9 record, handed New Mexico its only win of Mike Locksley's two-year tenure, and saw starting quarterback Austyn Canta-Samuels elect to transfer after the season.

Now things have gone from bad to worse as fellow signal-caller Emory Miller Jr. has also decided to leave Laramie following spring practice. "Personal reasons" were the only factor cited by the Laramie Boomerang, and Christensen declined to comment other than to wish Miller luck at his next destination.

Miller's and Canta-Samuel's decisions leave Christensen in a gigantic bind at the quarterback position. The Cowboys are down to just two scholarship quarterbacks on their projected 2011 roster: Brett Smith and Adam Pittser. But there's an even bigger problem than the numbers, as both Smith and Pittser are true freshmen straight from the Cowboys' 2011 recruiting class.

For the optimists in the Cowboy fanbase, Smith enrolled in time for spring practice and battled Miller to at least a draw in their battle for the starting spot, and Pittser (a "dual-threat" QB from Richmond, Ill.) is one of the most highly-regarded recruits of Christensen's tenure. To boot, Christensen has already enjoyed some success with a true freshman under center in Laramie; Canta-Samuels started the majority of the 2009 campaign and was named the MWC Freshman of the Year.

But surely no one, Christensen included, believes that entering the 2011 season starting a quarterback a year removed from high school and backing him up with a second quarterback a year removed from high school is the optimal situation. And should the Cowboys suffer through another lackluster season and help deprive the MWC of the automatic bid it so desperately wants, that'll go double in the MWC offices.


Posted on: March 14, 2011 12:03 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: BYU

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at BYU , who opens spring camp today.


Spring Practice Question: Can the BYU offense catch up with its defense?

Pop quiz, hotshot, and no cheating: was it BYU's offense or their defense that finished some 42 spots behind the other in national total yardage and managed to get its coordinator fired midseason?

If you said "defense" you're ... partially right. It's a trick question, since Bronco Mendenhall dismissed previous defensive boss Jaime Hill immediately following the Cougars' embarrassing 31-16 capitulation to traditional in-state punching bag Utah State on Oct. 1. But in the wake of that move, the Cougar defense improved dramatically, holding six of their final eight opponents to 21 points or fewer as BYU rallied from a 1-4 start to a 7-6 finish. When the dust had settled, the Cougar defense had posted a perfectly-respectable 24th-place finish in the FBS in total defense.

That should tell you, then, that despite the program's longstanding (and Steve Young/Jim McMahon know we mean long) reputation for aerial circus offenses and broken scoreboards, it was primarily the Cougar offense that kept BYU from getting over the .500 mark until a waltz past UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl. Behind the platoon of true freshman Jake Heaps and junior Riley Nelson -- and eventually just Heaps, after Nelson was lost for the year with a shoulder injury in late September -- the Cougar quarterbacks finished 100th in FBS with a miserable 115.09 quarterback rating. Though often-overlooked Cougar running game wasn't terrible (42nd in rushing offense, earning 4.2 yards per-carry), it wasn't nearly explosive enough to offset the ugly, flailing passing attack through the season's first half. Though Heaps eventually got his feet underneath him, the Cougars scored just 16 points or fewer six times--and lost all six. Their final finish in total offense? 72nd, a 52-spot drop from the top-20 unit of 2009.

The good news for Cougar fans is that if the secondary can be rebuilt -- three of the four 2010 starters have graduated, including first-team All-Mountain West safety Andrew Rich -- the defense should be able to maintain the gains of late 2010. Mendenhall took over the defense himself in the wake of Hill's departure and will stay in that capacity this season; with his oversight and five members of the starting front seven back, BYU should be particularly stout against the run. (The two losses in that front seven, all-league defensive end Vic So'oto and leading tackler Shane Hunter, aren't insignificant. But up-and-coming talents like sophomore linebacker Kyle Van Noy, junior tackle Eathyn Manumaleuna and junior linebacker Brandon Ogletree should keep things intact.)

So what about the offense? There's several big reasons for optimism:
  • Start with Heaps. After his rocky start, he looked every part the prototypical BYU quarterback down the stretch, putting together a 13-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio over his final five games and averaging a robust 8.2 yards per-attempt in that span. Not coincidentally, BYU went 4-1 in those five games with the loss by a single point to Utah and the wins by an average of 37 points.
  • Four members of the 2010 starting offensive line return, including two-time first team All-Mountain West selection Matt Reynolds. With a future NFL left tackle to build around, the second-fewest number of sacks allowed in the MWC a year ago, and an abundance of experience, the Cougar line should be poised to improve by leaps and bounds in 2011.
  • The return of all three of the Cougars' top rushers from 2010, including senior J.J. DiLuigi (917 yards) and sophomore Bryan Kariya (537). BYU may also get a spark from sophomore Joshua Quezada, who averaged an impressive 5.1 yards a carry as a freshman.
  • The top three receivers return as well in another dynamic sophomore, wideout Cody Hoffman (527 yards), DiLuigi (443 out of the backfield) and senior McKay Jacobson (410). Though the Cougar wideouts will have to do more to stretch the field (no receiver with more than 8 catches averaged more than Hoffman's 12.6 yards per-reception), Hepas won't lack for options to target.
  • Though it will be his first season calling plays, new offensive coordinator Brandon Doman has enough of a pedigree at BYU to believe he'll be able to continue the Cougar high-flying offensive tradition.
So things look promising ... on paper. We'll find out this spring practice if Mendenhall and the Cougars can actually put that potential into, well, practice. Is Heaps ready to take the next step into stardom? Can DiLuigi (or Quezada?) find that extra bit of explosiveness that would make the Cougar running game really hum? Is the line ready to perform to expectations? Is Doman fully up to the task?

With this being BYU's first season to prove their plan for football independence can work ... and the defense in position to turn this into a special season if the offense pulls its weight this time ... and the schedule kicking off with a challenging at Ole Miss -at Texas -vs. Utah slate for the first three weeks that will leave little time for adjusting on the fly ... there may be no better time for the answers to those questions to be "yes."
Posted on: December 19, 2010 2:56 am
 

Bowl Grades: New Mexico Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Final score: BYU 52, UTEP 24

BYU

Offense: We'd wanted to see BYU get Jake Heaps rolling early, and did he ever. The freshman quarterback continued his hot streak from the last month of the regular season with another four-touchdown effort, and the running back tandem of J.J. DiLuigi and Joshua Quezada kept the chains moving late, combining for 199 yards on 35 carries and two second-half touchdowns. The Cougar offense rolled to 31 points on its first five possessions and never looked back en route to BYU's greatest scoring output in its bowl history. Grade: A

Defense: On UTEP's first five possessions, the Miners managed one first down: a 12-yard pass on their first play from scrimmage of the entire game on a drive that went nowhere. Even on UTEP's one scoring drive of those five, the drive went backwards 13 yards and resulted in a 52-yard field goal. Don't read too much into the Miners' eventual point total of 24 points; all three touchdowns came on deep passes and the last two were with the game well out of reach. Grade: B+

Coaching: Bronco Mendenhall faced a not-insignificant challenge in motivating his players to put the frustrations of a 6-6 regular season behind them and get focused for a 6-6 opponent from Conference USA in a bowl whose concept seems like some weird parody of serial excess, like CSI: Topeka or Backgammon With The Stars. But the Cougars came out firing and completely outclassed their opponent, and Jake Heaps avoided any regression to his early 2010 self in shredding the Miner defense. Grade: A

UTEP

Offense: One of our keys to success for UTEP was seeing QB Trevor Vittatoe connect with star receiver Kris Adams for big plays, and on that front, the two most certainly delivered; Vittatoe found Adams for 153 yards on three catches -- all touchdowns -- over the course of the game. Problem was, none of them brought the Miners to within any less than 21 points, and if Adams wasn't burning his man deep, he wasn't doing much of anything ... and neither was the rest of the Miner offense. Joseph Banyard , a reserve tailback who saw his role diminish with the team over the course of the year, was the Miners' leading rusher -- with two carries for 11 yards. Vittatoe was sacked so often that the Miners ended up with negative rushing yardage. The bombs to Adams are cool, but that's not a sustainable offense. Grade: D

Defense: Obviously, giving up 31 points in the game's first five possessions isn't a formula for success, and the game was pretty well lost when it was 31-3. And yet, UTEP wasn't completely out of the game when the second half began, trailing 31-10 and carrying a bit of defensive momentum after forcing a punt and getting an interception on the last two possessions of the first half. Then the Cougars grinded out a 14-play, 75-yard drive culminating in a touchdown to open the second half, and that was pretty much that. 52 points given up is, pardon the term, indefensible. Grade: F

Coaching: It'd be easy to fault UTEP coach Mike Price for not getting any points out of his team's last drive of the first half; the Miners drove to BYU's 3-yard line and had five snaps in the red zone before time ran out on the half and BYU took its 31-10 lead into the locker room. Really, though, that's a call that has to be made; there's little difference between a 31-10 deficit and a 31-13 deficit after you've sent the message to your offense that you don't trust them to get a touchdown nine feet away from BYU's end zone. Sometimes, the right call doesn't work. So while we won't bury Price for that decision, it does seem as if he should catch a little heat for his team getting savaged on national television and continuing its bowl winless streat to 43 years. Maybe things go differently if Vittatoe connects with Adams on the final play of that first half and the Miners only have to make up a 14-point deficit at the break, but instead that number was 21, and it never got lower for the rest of the game.

Final Grade

Once BYU got off and rolling to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, it was pretty clear that UTEP wasn't going to overcome its deficiencies on both sides of the ball, and the remaining 45 minutes of dominance were little more than a foregone conclusion. It wasn't a good game by any stretch, the listed attendance of 32,000+ was about twice the amount of people actually in the stands, and the favored team rolled to an easy victory. All the same, it takes more nerve than we've got to really complain about a bowl game with 76 total points scored, especially one to kick the whole postseason off, so perhaps some charity is in order for this one. Grade: C-

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com