NCF Nation: New Mexico Bowl first take
Dec. 19, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Wyoming is one of just two teams from the nonautomatic qualifying schools with a first-year head coach to advance to a bowl game this season. The Cowboys had to win their final regular-season game to get to 6-6 and claim the Mountain West’s final bowl slot.
However, facing an offensively potent Fresno State team is not the ideal matchup for the Cowboys. Fresno State ranked seventh in the country in rushing offense behind Ryan Mathews, who leads the nation in rushing with 151.27 yards per game. Mathews has rushed for at least 100 yards in all but two games this season, and he missed those games because of a concussion.
Wyoming’s rushing defense is one of the worst in the country, allowing 170.50 yards per game and 22 of the Cowboys' 38 allowed touchdowns have come on the ground.
Wyoming will have a chance in this game if freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels can get some help from the rest of his offense. Carta-Samuels has played well since being named the starter, and was even selected as the Mountain West’s freshman of the year, but he hasn’t gotten a lot of help from his receivers.
Fresno State does not have a great defense, but it has been good against the pass. Carta-Samuels will have to use his scrambling ability to keep Wyoming drives alive and keep the Cowboys in this contest.
Dec. 20, 2:30 p.m., (ESPN)
Fresno State is coming off its worst loss of the season, 61-10 to Boise State, and its coach is shopping for a new job. Not the ideal situation to go into a bowl, especially against a Colorado State team that won its past two games to gain bowl eligibility.
It wasn't that long ago that many thought Fresno State was capable of busting the BCS. But an early loss to Wisconsin ruined a BCS season and seemed to take the wind out of Fresno State. The Bulldogs suffered multiple injuries and had some kicking woes that led to bad losses.
On the other side, not many expected much from Colorado State, especially under first-year head coach Steve Fairchild. Colorado State hasn't played in a bowl game since 2005.
Statistically, Fresno State has a better total offense and defense, but these teams are quite similar. Both have pocket-passing quarterbacks, great tight ends -- Kory Sperry for CSU and Bear Pascoe for FSU -- but Fresno State's running game gives it a little more diversity.
This might be one of the more evenly matched games this bowl season.