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2010 New Mexico Bowl: Cougars vs. Miners Predictions

New Mexico Bowl: BYU vs. UTEP Bowl Preview

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Cougars vs Miners Handicapping Preview
Date/Time: Saturday, Dec. 18, 2 pm EST
Venue: University Stadium, Albuquerque NM
BYU Cougars (6-6) vs. UTEP Miners (6-6) Betting Lines from MySportsbook.com
MoneyLine: OFF
NCAA Betting Favorite: BYU (-12) UTEP (+12)
Over/Under: 50
Bet now @ MySportsbook.com –>


Sans graduated QB Max Hall, it’s been a decidedly up-and-down 2010 season in Provo. The Cougars were a streaky team that looked strong during a four-game win streak (Wyoming, UNLV, Colorado State, New Mexico) and ill-fitted for the upper tier of the Mountain West Conference in losing five of six to Air Force, Florida State, Nevada, Utah State and TCU.

The Cougars were known in the past few years for a having a well-oiled passing attack under Hall, and freshman Jake Heaps has done his best to fill the void. The Washington native has cracked the 2,000-yard plateau and chucked for an 11-8 ratio. Reasonable numbers for a frosh, but BYU’s offense definitely has taken a steep drop-off: the Cougs finished 84th in the nation in points for.

In addition to Heaps, junior RB J.J. Di Luigi has been a welcome contributor, getting it done running with and catching the football. His 1,241 total yards and eight total scores are the most impressive offensive numbers for BYU (not really saying much) and his production slowed down near the end of the season. Di Luigi must show early-season form for BYU’s attack to really start cruising.

Brigham Young’s defense is adequate and capable of stopping a team like UTEP, but eyes will be on Heaps to see how the future of BYU quarterbacking performs in his first bowl game.


Like the Cougars, Texas-El Paso has had a streaky season where it has looked alternately effective and pathetic. The Miners started 5-1 but the wheels have come off since; ugly losses to UAB and Arkansas especially stick out.

UTEP has a well-established senior aerial duo in QB Trevor Vittatoe and WR Kris Adams. Of Vittatoe’s 2,511 yards and 19 TDs, Adams has accounted for 917 yards and 11 scores – all the while averaging a beefy 20+ yards per reception. If Adams gets downfield and exploits BYU’s secondary, it will put the Miners in good position for an upset. Also in the backfield, Sweetwater TX native, junior Joseph Banyard has also had a solid season, with 5.7 yards per and eight TDs. It will be up to Banyard and (to a lesser extent) senior Donald Buckram to create offensive balance.

UTEP is not a dominant squad by any means – statistically, the Miners don’t crack the Top 50 in any major category – but they have a couple players who could factor in if UTEP is to pick off a Brigham Young team currently in a rut.

The Pick: Vittatoe and Adams might make some sweet music together, but the Cougars are the stronger overall team and, if BYU’s past effectiveness in bowl games is any indication, the point spread should stand up in this contest early in bowl season. Fresh-faced BYU pivot Heaps will put himself in a good off-season mindset with a strong performance in the New Mexico Bowl.

Score Prediction: BYU 30 UTEP 14

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James has been naming every player on the EA Sports video game rosters for half a decade now, he’s finally putting his knowledge to better use writing for us here at CappersPicks.com. Your comments are welcome below…Give Us Your Take!