EagleBank Bowl: UCLA (6-6) vs. Temple (9-3)
Synopsis: The Owls, more commonly known as the laughing stock of college football, have made a resurgence under head coach Al Golden. They were one game away from playing for the MAC championship, and are easily one of the better stories of the year. After opening the season with losses to Villanova and Penn State, the Owls did not taste defeat again until the final game of the season against Ohio.
UCLA, on the other hand, started off hot, winning its first three games before enduring a five-game losing streak, all against Pac-10 opponents. There have been inconsistency issues at quarterback that have plagued the Bruins all season long.
Player to watch:
Bernard Pierce is the Owls’ top rushing threat. For the season, he has carried the ball 224 times for 1,308 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was named first-team all-conference, and is the primary reason for the Owls’ surprisingly strong season. UCLA has had trouble stopping the run this season, and Pierce should be relishing the opportunity to showcase his skills against a program like UCLA’s.
Who has the edge?
Temple, similar to SMU, is simply happy to be playing in a bowl game. However, Al Golden is of a different mold than June Jones, and you can bet he will have his team looking sharp in the mindset to take down the Bruins and make a statement for the Temple program. The Bruins have limped to the finish line this season, and simply are not that much better than Temple, if at all.
Champs Sports Bowl: Miami (9-3) vs. Wisconsin (9-3)
The Hurricanes endured a rollercoaster of expectations this season. Prior to the season, critics were saying they could start the year 0-4. After winning its first two games, Miami was then proclaimed to have returned to the national scene. At season’s end, the ‘Canes seemed to have fallen somewhere in the middle of those expectations, finishing third in the Coastal Division but with an opportunity for a double-digit win total.
Wisconsin took advantage of all of its weaker opponents, but fell at the hands of all its superior opposition. Brian Clay is a bruising running back tailor-made for this offense, and can punish any defense over the course of a game.
Player to watch: Jacory Harris has been at the epicenter of the Hurricanes’ fortunes this season. When Miami sprinted out of the gates, Harris was touted as one of the nation’s finest young passers. On the contrary, when Harris endured a mid-season slump, Miami lost a few surprising games and some national credibility at the same time. As Harris goes, so does Miami. This game is important for Harris and the rest of his team to give them momentum heading into 2010.
Who has the edge?
Miami has the better athletes, and the better record in games against credible opponents. Wisconsin’s best win came against either Michigan State or Fresno State. Miami beat Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, Florida State, and South Florida. They will have plenty of confidence entering this game.