Over the next few weeks we will be giving our picks for each of the bowl games along with a quick preview. The picks, however, come from you via the entries you make in our College Bowl Game Picks Contest where you can not win an empty cereal bowl as a non-prize. Entries will be accepted right up until the bowl game is actually played. Today we are going to look at the first three bowl games of the season that will be played on Dec. 18: New Mexico Bowl, Humanitarian Bowl and New Orleans Bowl.
New Mexico Bowl
BYU vs. UTEP
Saturday, Dec. 18 @ 2pm ET (ESPN)
University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.
The Brigham Young Cougars of the Mountain West Conference come to the bowl game with a 6-6 record facing the UTEP Miners of Conference USA who are also 6-6 on the season. BYU is a 12-point favorite in this game with the total points set at 49.
UTEP is lead by quarterback Trevor Vittatoe who failed to reach 3,000 yards for the first time in his college career. His favorite targets, wide receiver Ross Apo, is questionable for the game as is running back Mike Hague. With Max Hall now "playing" in the NFL, BYU relies on its running game to put points on the board which has been its strength this season. They put 40 points on the board in three of their last five wins.
Prediction: 91 percent in favor of BYU
Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State
Saturday, Dec. 18 @ 5:30pm ET (ESPN)
Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho
The Huskies of Northern Illinois (10-3) from the Mid-American Conference will face the Fresno State Bulldogs (8-4) of the Western Athletic Conference on the blue field of Boise. Northern Illinois is a 1.5-point favorite with the point total of 59 points for the game.
The key player for the Huskies is running back Chad Spann. Spann, a senior, ran for his second straight 1000+ yard season and averaged 99.56 yards per game this year. The team also features a solid run defense that failed them in the MAC Title game which they lost to Miami of Ohio after going undefeated through October and November.
Freson once again features a potent passing attack with quarterback Ryan Colburn completing 62 percent of his throws. The Bulldogs have been very effective getting after opposing quarterback with 37 sacks this season which is sixth overall in the nation.
Prediction: 56 percent in favor of Fresno
New Orleans Bowl
Ohio vs. Troy
Saturday, December 18 @ 9pm ET (ESPN)
Superdome, New Orleans
The Ohio Bobcats (8-4) of the Mid-American Conference take on the Sun Belt Conference Troy Trojans (7-5) in this battle of small schools that very few people care about. Troy is a 1.5-point favorite with the point total of 58 points for the game.
Ohio brings a perfect 0-4 record in bowl games to New Orleans and hopes it can limit the Trojans with its defense. It recorded 17 interceptions on the season and held opponents to just 3.2 yards per carry. Phil Bates and Boo Jackson split time at quarterback and wide receiver Terrence McRae has nine touchdowns on the year.
Troy is 1-1 in the New Orleans Bowl so it at least brings experience to the game. The Trojans feature a high-powered offensive attack that has averaged 441 yards per game. Redshirt freshman Corey Robinson threw for 3.339 yards and 24 touchdowns this season.