The 2011 college football bowl season gets underway on Saturday with three games on the schedule, including the one to start it all off, the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. This game was supposed to have a Pac-12 Conference tie-in but the bowl ineligibility of the USC Trojans coupled with the Stanford Cardinal giving the conference a second BCS bowl team left the New Mexico Bowl to choose at at large team to pair with a Mountain West Conference opponent.
The Temple Owls (8-4, 5-3 in the Mid-American Conference) were chosen as the at-large team, and will face the Wyoming Cowboys (8-4, 5-2 in the Mountain West). Here are the relevant details for the first bowl game of the 2011 college football bowl season:
Teams: Temple (8-4, 5-3); Wyoming (8-4, 5-2)
Conferences: Mid-American (Temple); Mountain West (Wyoming)
Bowl: Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Favorite: The Owls are seven-point favorites, per Odds Shark
Location: University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Time: 11 a.m. PST
TV: ESPN, with Clay Matvick on play-by-play, Brian Griese as the analyst, and Jessica Mendoza on the sidelines.
Radio: ESPN Radio, with Mark Neely on play-by-play, David Diaz-Infante as the analyst, and Marty Cesario on the sidelines.
Players to Watch: Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith threw for 2,495 yards and 18 touchdowns, completed 60.5% of his passes and won Mountain West freshman of the year honors; Temple tailback Bernard Pierce ran for 1,381 yards in 12 games, an average of 5.57 yards per attempt, and scored a school-record 25 rushing touchdowns.
Common Opponent: Both teams played the Bowling Green Falcons on the road in 2011; Wyoming picked up a 28-27 win on September 17, while Temple fell 13-10 on October 22.
Bowl History: Wyoming is 6-6 all-time in bowl games, including winning the 2009 New Mexico Bowl; Temple is just 1-2 all-time in bowl games, with their only victory coming in the 1979 Garden State Bowl with a 28-17 win over Cal.
Series History: Wyoming won their only previous meeting with Temple, a 38-23 victory in Laramie, Wyoming on September 1, 1990.
For more information about these teams, be sure to read Cowboy Altitude and Hustle Belt.