Saturday, December 18, 2010

2010-2011 Bowl Week 1 Preview

Each week, we will preview one week of the 2010-2011 NCAA football bowl season. The bowls begin Saturday, December 18 and continue through January 10. After each week, we will also look back to see how things worked out in the previous week of games.

Saturday, December 18

New Mexico Bowl

Who Will Win: BYU
The Cougars came on strong to end the season to clinch bowl eligibility. Things sure didn't look good after a loss TCU dropped BYU to 2-5 on October 16. However, the Cougars rattled off four straight wins against lesser opponents in the Mountain West Conference to get to six wins, and just missed upsetting rival Utah in the annual Holy War. Quarterback Jake Heaps, only a freshman, has come a long way in establishing himself as a successful replacement for a long list of great BYU quarterbacks who came before him.

How They Could Win: UTEP
UTEP comes in to this game in opposite fashion of BYU, instead having lost five of their last six after starting the season 5-1. The Miners are led by quarterback Trevor Vittatoe, who threw for over 2,500 yards this season and 19 touchdowns. He has a favorite receiver in Kris Adams, who caught 11 of those touchdowns this season. If those two can pair up to be successful against the BYU secondary, UTEP has a shot in this one.

uDrove Humanitarian Bowl
Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State

Who Will Win: Fresno State
The Bulldogs get the edge in this one because of the recent un-doing of Northern Illinois in the past three weeks. After Northern Illinois lost a heartbreaker in the MAC Championship, their head coach (Jerry Kill) who guided them to one of their most successful seasons in school history departed for the head coach vacancy at Minnesota. The feelings are different for the Huskies in this one versus Fresno State, who comes in with a capable offense led by quarterback Ryan Colburn and running back Robbie Rouse.  Fresno State's defense will be tested against a NIU offense averaging 37.8 points per game.

How They Could Win: Northern Illinois
Statistically, the Huskies seem favored in this game. They score about eight more points per game than Fresno State, and allow ten less points per game. Chad Spann leads a rushing attack that was 7th in the nation, with over 1,000 yards of his own. Weather will play a factor in this one in Boise, Idaho, forecasted to be in the mid 30's with precipitation, so the NIU running game will be a major player for the Huskies to win this game.

New Orleans Bowl
Ohio vs. Troy

Who Will Win: Ohio
Playing in only their fifth bowl game, the Bobcats are looking for their first ever postseason victory. Head coach Frank Solich has won two bowl games elsewhere, and looks to bring that success into a 'W' for Ohio. It will be a great matchup between a solid Ohio defense and a very strong Troy offense. I like the Bobcats to come out on top in this one courtesy of their defense.

How They Could Win: Troy
The Trojans offense is stellar, led by Corey Robinson who threw for 3,339 yards to lead an offense averaging a hair under 33 points per game. Troy does not rely much on its rushing attack, but teams are so worried about the Trojans' passing ability that Troy can find success on the ground when needed, with their top two backs averaging over five yards per carry.