The 2011-2012 NCAA Football Bowl Season begins in earnest this weekend, and here at STAT BOX STORIES we have big plans for how games are going to be covered. With only one writer here “on staff,” the call has been put out at The Gaming Tailgate—one of the internet’s premier resources for NCAA Football coverage—for guest writers to sign up for Bowl Games to write about and fill in the “gaps” in the Bowl Game schedule in an attempt to try and get all 35 games covered for STAT BOX STORIES. If you haven’t already signed up for a game yet, be sure to check out the forum post here to see what is still available and whether or not you might be able to join in on the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL.
Our coverage here at STAT BOX STORIES begins with the 2011 New Mexico Bowl, which will be played on Saturday, December 17th between the Temple Owls and the Wyoming Cowboys. With Wyoming as the underdog in terms of ratings in NCAA Football 12, I took the reins for the brown and gold in this opening Bowl Game match-up.
With as unpredictable as the Bowl Season can be, there is perhaps no better way that the first game could have gone. Temple won the toss—breaking a streak where I had won the coin toss in NCAA Football 12 for many games in a row—and elected to kick, giving Wyoming the game’s first offensive possession. I went three-and-out and Temple’s kick returner was able to start them out on my side of the field for their first possession. Though they only managed a 48-yard field goal for the good field position, it still gave them an opening 3-0 lead and a chance to set the tone early.
On the kickoff, however, I returned the kick 67 yards to the Temple 31-yard-line. A few plays later—and less than a minute removed from the field goal—I scored on a 35-yard catch-and-run to the end zone to take a 7-3 lead.
Temple’s next possession in the first quarter ended with a punt, and then on my ensuing possession Wyoming’s starting halfback was lost for the game due to injury. To begin the second quarter, I was forced to punt the ball back. On Temple’s next drive, however, I intercepted the ball at my own 10-yard-line to get possession back. After putting together a very lengthy 14-play drive, I finally connected on a 10-yard scoring pass with 12 seconds remaining in the first half to go into halftime with a 14-3 lead.
Forced to kick to begin the third quarter, I tried to pin Temple in a corner but it didn’t work as they returned the kickoff to their 49-yard-line. A few plays later, however, an errant pass was intercepted by Wyoming’s middle linebacker and returned 74 yards for a touchdown and a 21-3 lead.
The teams traded punts on their next possessions and then Temple scored on a 13-yard pass just over a minute into the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 21-9. An attempted quarterback option run for the two-point conversion was snuffed out and stopped in the backfield, however, keeping a 12-point cushion in place for Wyoming. The Cowboys next possession ended in a punt, but then a Temple pass to Wyoming’s end zone was intercepted. Wyoming returned the favor on their next drive by throwing the ball back to the Owls, setting up a crazy play towards the end of the game.
With the ball in the red zone, Temple’s quarterback threw for the end zone but was intercepted by a Wyoming defender. However, in my excitement, I pushed the wrong button on the controller and attempted a hurdle instead of kneeling with my defender for the touchback. An offensive player for Temple grabbed the ball-carrier in mid-air and forced a fumble, which was recovered by the same Temple wide receiver who scored to begin the fourth quarter for an improbable Temple touchdown. This time, the Owls opted to kick the extra point and the score was cut to 21-16.
Though Temple attempted an onside kick for the chance to drive and complete their comeback, it was easily recovered by Wyoming and the Cowboys were able to run out what was left of the game clock to secure the New Mexico Bowl victory.
Despite the 21-3 lead Wyoming built up early in the third quarter, Temple ended up leading the game in most of the statistical categories; First Downs, Total Offense, Rushing Yards, and Passing Yards. The Owls also led in 3rd-Down Conversion percentage and Red Zone Attempts, though Temple technically only converted one of those attempts. One of the key numbers for the statistics was Turnovers; the four interceptions thrown by Temple’s quarterback stalled too many drives for the Owls to remain in contention except for their extraordinary luck in the late stages of the game.
By contrast, Wyoming’s quarterback put up big numbers despite only 8 completions. The interception thrown by the Cowboys was actually passed by the team’s backup, forced into action when the starter was out for a few plays for precautionary reasons. The bigger injury impact for Wyoming was losing their starting halfback, which forced HB #18—a player looking more suited to the wide receiver corps—into the forefront of the ground game. Though he only managed a 3.3 yard-per-carry average, he was able to avoid negative plays on first and second downs to keep Wyoming’s offense working. The Player of the Game—Wyoming’s CB #4—earned the honor thanks to an interception on defense along with 119 kick return yards on only three return attempts.
With one Bowl Game entry for STAT BOX STORIES in the book and plenty more Bowl Games to come—including, hopefully, some written by you readers for the BOWL BLITZ INVITATIONAL—we’ll be plenty busy here on the blog with college football match-ups for weeks to come now. Be sure to come back here tomorrow for more football action as we detail the result of a Madden NFL 12 Online Team Play (OTP) game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers!