Dec. 14, 2011
The Wyoming Cowboys and Temple Owls will kick off the 2011 college bowl season on Saturday, Dec. 17 in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque. The game is scheduled to kick off at Noon, Mountain Time from University Stadium. Wyoming enters Saturday's game with an 8-4 overall record and a 5-2 record in the Mountain West Conference. Temple is also 8-4 overall, and finished 5-3 in the Eastern Division of the Mid-American Conference.
For Wyoming, they are returning to the site of their most recent bowl victory in 2009. The Cowboys defeated Fresno State 35-28 in double overtime in '09. Wyoming carries a two-game bowl winning streak into this year's New Mexico Bowl. UW defeated UCLA, 24-21, in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl.
Temple also made its most recent bowl appearance in 2009 against UCLA in the Eagle Bank Bowl in Washington, D.C. The Owls lost to the Bruins, 21-30. Temple's last win in a bowl game was back in 1979 when it defeated California, 28-17, in the Garden State Bowl.
Wyoming and Temple have played each other only one other time in history. That occurred on Sept. 1, 1990, in Wyoming's season opener in Laramie. The Cowboys captured a 38-23 win over the Owls on that day.
This season, third-year head coach Dave Christensen led the Cowboys to their first eight-win season since the 1998 squad posted an 8-3 record, and he and his Pokes will be looking to win their ninth game for the first time since 1996 when UW posted a 10-2 record under then head coach Joe Tiller.
The Wyoming Cowboys enjoyed numerous accomplishments during the 2011 season. Many of these milestones hadn't been reached for decades. Here are a few of the highlights from the 2011 season.
Dave Christensen became the first Wyoming head coach to earn Coach of the Year honors since Joe Tiller in 1996, and is the first Cowboy head coach to be named Coach of the Year since Wyoming joined the Mountain West Conference in 1999.
This year's 5-2 Mountain West Conference record ties this year's team for the most Mountain West wins with the 2006 Cowboys. By finishing third in the Mountain West Conference, this year's team also ties the 2006 team for the best conference finish since Wyoming joined the Mountain West Conference.
This season marks the first time that Wyoming has appeared in two bowl games in a three-year span since 1988-90.
Christensen's three Wyoming teams became the first to defeat Colorado State in three consecutive seasons since 1987, `88 and `89 under head coach Paul Roach. For the first time since the 1996 and '98 seasons, the Cowboys won back-to-back road games in Fort Collins in 2009 and 2011.
This year's Cowboy team defeated both Front-Range rivals Air Force and Colorado State in the same season for the first time since 1996 under head coach Joe Tiller.
Wyoming has posted two seasons of at least seven wins during Christensen's three years as head coach at Wyoming. The last time that happened in a three-year period was 1997-99. Christensen's 2009 team won seven games to go with this year's eight wiins entering the New Mexico Bowl.
Temple has had an outstanding season, and there is no doubt how the Owls would prefer to attack their opponent -- on the ground. Temple ranks No. 7 in the nation in rushing offense this season, averaging 256.7 yards per game. The player fueling that running game is junior Bernard Pierce. Pierce is averaging 125.5 yards per game to rank seventh in the nation. He is also a scoring machine, ranking No. 2 in the NCAA in scoring averaging 13.6 points per game. He has rushed for 25 touchdowns this season. Temple has played a trio of quarterbacks this season, including senior Chester Stewart, sophomore Chris Coyer and junior Mike Gerardi.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Owls rank among the nation's leaders in numerous categories. Temple ranks No. 26 in the nation in rushing defense (allowing only 122.6 yards per game), No. 19 in pass defense (192.9 yards allowed per game), No. 15 in total defense (315.5 yards per game) and No. 3 in scoring defense (giving up only 13.8 points per game to opponents).
The Owls played a challenging schedule in 2011. Temple lost by only four, 14-10, at home to Penn State in September, and went to Maryland one week later and defeated the ACC member by a score of 38-7.
Much like Wyoming's schedule, three of four losses for the Owls came at the hands of teams who went on to earn bowl bids this season -- Penn State, Ohio and Toledo.
A number of events will take place for fans during the week in Albuquerque leading up to Saturday's game. Among those events will be:
The official Wyoming Fan Welcome Party, featuring the Cowboy Sports Network Bowl Preview Radio Show on Thursday, Dec. 15 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Kelly's Brew Pub, 3222 Central in Nob Hill.
The Team Kickoff Luncheon on Friday, Dec. 16 starting at 11:30 a.m. from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Also on Friday will be the Gildan New Mexico Bowl Pep Rally from 4 to 5 p.m. in Old Town Plaza
The Wyoming Pep Rally will follow on Friday at 7 p.m. from The Dirty Bourbon located at 3222 Montgomery Blvd.
On Saturday morning, the Official Wyoming Tailgate runs from 9 to 11:30 a.m., East of University Stadium at Fan Fest. Advance tickets to the Wyoming Tailgate event may be purchased for $25, while purchase of tickets on game day will cost $35. Contact the Cowboy Joe Club at 307-766-6242 if you need more information.
Tickets to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl game may be purchased from the UW Athletics Ticket Office through Friday, Dec. 16. Cost of a ticket is $40. Fans may order tickets online at www.WyomingAthletics.com or by calling the ticket office at 877-WYO-FAN1 - (877-96-3261)
Saturday's Gildan New Mexico Bowl game will be carried live on the 25 affiliates of the Cowboy Sports Network, beginning with the pregame show one hour prior to kickoff or 11 a.m. this week. The game will also be televised live on ESPN HD.