Let me begin by introducing myself and just give a brief history of my interest in college football. I began watching football in general at a very young age and my passion for the sport has just increased more and more as the years have gone by. I did not start paying very close attention to college football, religiously like I do now, until I was a freshman in college, but had always watched games here and there since I was a teenager. I went to school at a private University in Oklahoma not too far from Norman and naturally found myself rooting for the OU Sooners being that my school did not have a football team of it's own. I still have a lot to learn about the sport as the game is constantly evolving. I believe that one can never know enough about something and there is always something new to learn. My role on this site will be to continue posting the offseason discussions for Niners Nation and to help carry us through the bowl season in looking at some of the key players that will be playing in these games. The main objective I think is to provide more insight for those that don't follow as regularly and give a more clear picture as to who we should be looking at for now and for the future. This will help in the process of scouting and preparing for the 2010 NFL Draft.
Bowl Season for college football has approached us as quickly as the year has passed us by. The first set of Bowl Games kick off with two games beginning today. The first of the two begin with The New Mexico Bowl which will be played at University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The second of the two will be The St. Petersburg Bowl, which will be played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The two teams that will match-up in the New Mexico Bowl are going to be the Fresno State Bulldogs (8-4, 6-2 WAC) vs the Wyoming Cowboys (6-6, 4-4 MWC). The two teams facing off in the St. Petersburg Bowl will be the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (8-4, 3-4 Big East) vs the UCF Golden Knights (8-4, 6-2 C-USA). Both of these games will be broadcast on ESPN. Further down I will be analyzing the games in a little more depth with some of the key players in each game to watch, as well as some of the key stats on both sides.
Now that we have that out of the way we can focus in on the games.
NEW MEXICO BOWL GAME PREVIEW:
The Bulldogs finished in third place of the WAC with an overall record of 8-4 and were 6-2 in the conference. In their second appearance of The New Mexico Bowl, the Bulldogs look to be favored in this one against the Cowboys. This will be Fresno State's third straight bowl game and the eighth postseason game in the last decade.
Key players to watch for the Bulldogs:
Mathews led the nation in rushing yards per game, topping Heisman Trophy finalists Toby Gerhart (Stanford) and Mark Ingram (Alabama) with 151.3 yards per game. Mathews averaged 6.8 yards per carry and scored 17 touchdowns on the season. Before a mid season concussion Mathews led the nation in rushing yards as well.
Ryan Colburn QB (Junior):
Ryan Colburn has the skill-set to be an amazing QB. Colburn’s size will be a positive attribute as he can sit in the pocket and take a hit. If pressured, Colburn has the ability to take off and scramble; he has no problem lowering the shoulder to plow into a defender.
Has emerged as a big-play threat and will contend for All-WAC honors as a senior. Seyiis a great athlete with range and ability to stretch a defense. He can go up and get the deep passes and is coming off his best season as a Bulldog averaging 16.9 yards per reception in his career.
Ben Jacobs LB (Junior):
7.7 Tackles a game Jacobs leads the defense coming in to this one. Jacobs flies to the ball on every snap and should be fun to watch today.
Chris Carter DL (Junior):
One of the top returning defensive players in the WAC ... coming off a season in which he split time at linebacker and finished the year as a defensive end ... earned Second-Team All-WAC honors at end ... an explosive player who puts great pressure on offensive tackles
Probably one of the single most accurate kickers in college football right now. I would not be surprised at all if I saw Goessling playing on Sundays someday soon.
Led by Coach:
Pat Hill (76-51-0 11th year)
The Wyoming Cowboy's finished the season the same way they started it...at .500. They went 6-6 overall and 4-4 in the MWC which placed them 5th overall. This will mark the first time since 2004 that the Cowboys have been involved in a bowl game.
Key players to watch for the Cowboys:
Carta-Samuels led the Wyoming offense to three fourth-quarter touchdowns and a total of 24 fourth-quarter points as the Cowboys came back from a 21-point deficit to win on the road at San Diego State. He is mobile out of the pocket and make plays when he is forced to.
A tall possession receiver, Leonard can go above the defensive secondaries to get the ball. He made the 2009 All-Mountain West Team and I look for him to be the primary target for Carta-Samuels in this match-up.
Fred Givens DL (Senior):
Givens lost his starting job before the season started, but has won that job back for good reason. He will be the guy in the middle that will be key in shutting down Mathews and the Bulldogs rush game. Short and stout he should be able to create some push in the middle.
Unrein is perhaps the one player in the league who is flying under the radar and will have a chance to become a household name for those watching this weekend if he can play the way he has all year.
Led by Coach:
Dave Christensen (1st year HC)
Kickoff time and networks:
Time: 4:30 PM ET/ 1:30 PM PST
Television:ESPN & ESPN-HD
Radio: ESPN Radio
December 20th, 2008-- Colorado State- 40, Fresno State 35
December 21st, 2007-- New Mexico- 23, Nevada 0
December 23rd, 2006-- San Jose State 20, New Mexico 12
ST. PETERSBURG BOWL GAME PREVIEW:
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights finished the reglarseason with an (8-4, 3-4 Big East) record. Rutgers had been regarded as one of the worst teams in Division I-A in the last couple decades, posting several losing seasons in a row and raising discussion of possibly reducing the team to Division I-AA competition up until now. This will be a good opportunity for the Scarlet Knights to prove that they belong still in Division I-A.
Key players to watch for the Scarlet Knights:
You have to appreciate the name although I don't think there is any relation to thee Tim Brown. Brown happened to be the best friend of UConn's Jasper Howard (the player who was murdered earlier in the season on campus). Brown is a bit small but an explosive quick player. Brown is only the 4th player in Rutgers history to record 1000+ yards receiving. Kenny Britt the only other notable player to accomplish this out of the other three.
Besides Brown, Martinek is probably the next best thing the Scarlet Knights have going for them on offense. The 6'0 215 LB. Junior RB has 1300+ career rushing yards and 13 career TD's. He will need to be a big contributor in this game to give Rutgers a chance in this one.
Anthony Davis OT (Junior):
Davis is a big mobile Tackle and as far as the Niners are concerned, we should all be keeping an eye on this one. On my original list before some of the others climbed the board for me, Davis was in my top five. He has fallen off the radar a bit, but it will be interesting to see how well he does against the Golden Knights. He is projected by some to now go in the 2nd round of the 2010 NFL Draft. 6'6" 325 Lbs.
Kevin Haslam OG (Senior):
Great at run blocking Haslam stands 6'7" and weighs 300 Lbs. Get's off the snap fast and pulls really well. Again, another interesting possibility we should keep an eye out for in this matchup.
D'Imperio will be the anchor of this defense in this one serving as one of the team captain's. Earlier in his career, the now Senior, had to have several surgeries to repair a severe leg injury. As a junior last season, the veteran middle linebacker started all 13 games and ranked fifth in the BIG EAST with more than seven tackles for game and 10thin the league with nearly a tackle for loss per contest. He has a lot of football knowledge and plays the game very smart. I am not sure if he will be drafted and if he is not, I think he should work out with some team and try and make it as an undrated free agent. We will see how he performs this evening.
Led by Coach:
Greg Schiano (54-55 9th year)
The UCF Golden Knights have the same record as their opponent with exception to conference record at (8-4, 6-2 C-USA). Although UCF has never won a bowl game and are in fact 0-2 in their postseason bowl record, it would not surprise me if the Golden Knights manage to get their 1st bowl win against Rutgers. Rutgers are favored but it is college football and anything can happen as the polls have been drawing closer in this one.
Key players to watch for the Golden Knights:
Harvey rushed for nearly 1100 yards with 14 TD's this year. He has been their bell cow this year and they have made it to a bowl game on large part to this young and very talented athlete.
Josh Robinson CB (Freshman):
Give this kid a few years and you are going to be looking at one dynamite CB. If he continues to get better, he could be at the top of the list as an NFL prospect. Robinson has 6 INT's with 84 return yards. He could make it difficult on the opposing QB today.
Since UCF's players play so well as a team, the statistics are pretty spread out and there is not many players besides Harvey and Robinson that really stand out as a possible recruits in to the NFL in the future. But it should be fun to watch the offensive line and Harvey have success against the Scarlet Knights this evening. And someone else may make showcase themselves to the nation tonight and jump their way on to some teams board.
Kickoff time and networks:
Time: 8:00 PM ET/ 5:00 PM PST
Television: ESPN Mark Jones- Play-by-Play, Bob Davie- Color Analyst, Rob Stone - Sideline Reporter
Radio: Rutgers Football Radio Network
Affiliates: WOR 710-AM (New York City); WCTC 1450-AM (Central Jersey); 97.5 FM "The Fanatic" (Philadelphia and South Jersey)
Student Radio: WRSU 88.7 FM
Satellite Radio: Sirius/XM
National Radio: ESPN Radio
December 20th, 2008-- South Florida 41, Memphis 14
This will mark the 2nd year for this specific Bowl Game.