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December 18, 2007

2007 Bowl Preview Series

Sometimes less is more. Despite the first four bowls of the 2007-08 schedule having only one participant from a BCS conference, there will still be plenty of exciting action. A top tier offense, a red hot freshman quarterback, and the nation's number one rushing attack will all be on display this week as bowl week kicks off. Sure this isn't the Rose Bowl or the Orange Bowl, but what's not to like about Utah's 6-game winning streak in postseason appearances? What's not to like about Florida Atlantic, appearing in a bowl just six years after it started its football program? Despite the lack of big name star power, there will still be enough interesting story lines to keep even the casual fan excited in this final stretch before the new year.

Poinsettia | New Orleans | | New Mexico

December 20 - 8:00 PM CST ESPN - San Diego, CA

When Utah has the ball...

Expect a balanced offensive attack. The Utes certainly havenít been blowing out defenses this season. They average 376 yards per game (213 passing, 163 rushing) and are 65th in the nation at 25.5 points per game. The key for Kyle Whittinghamís offense will be relying on experience players at the skill positions.
Junior quarterback Brian Johnson has been average at best. He has had only two games with more than 200 yards passing, and only two games with more than one touchdown pass. Running back Darrell Mach has been the offensive spark plug this season, accumulating nearly 1200 yards on the ground while totalling 13 all-purpose touchdowns. Though he hasnít topped 100 yards in a game since October 27th, his 4.9 yards per carry on the season is something to be excited about.

When Navy has the ball...

You better believe the Midshipmen are going to be running. Navy has led the NCAA in rushing a record three straight seasons, thanks to a slew of talented runners, seven in all, that have run for at least 400 yards on the season. In all, Navy is averaging better than 350 yards per game on the ground, nearly equal what Utah posts per game for total offense.
Navy does not throw the football, their leading rusher this season was quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. He and fullback Eric Kettani have combined for 1537 yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. In total, Navy runners have accumulated 4218 yards and have found the endzone 51 times on the ground.

Star watch...

As previously mentioned, the playesrs to keep an eye on will be the ones running with the football. For Utah it will be Darrell Mack and his strong 6í0Ē 220 pound frame pounding away at the Navy defense. For the Midshipmen the rush attack will be led by the thunder and lightning attack of Kettani and Kaheaku-Enhada.

Deciding factor...

As it is in so many games at this time of year, the defense will decide the winner in this one. In itís last ten games Utah is allowing less than 100 yards rushing per game to opponents, which will make for an interesting match up with Navyís rushers. Navy will be looking to capitalize against Utahís Brian Johnson who has already thrown 9 interceptions this season. Navy has 9 picks on defense this year, including 4 by junior cornerback Ketric Buffin.

The staff says...

- - - - - F o o t b a l l   S t a f f - - - - - - - - O t h e r   S t a f f - - -
David Gregg Joey Jonathan Matt Ben Daniel Eddie Larry
177-97 169-105 175-99 179-95 165-109 - S e a s o n   R e c o r d s -

SCS.comNEW ORLEANS BOWL - Florida Atlantic vs Memphis
December 21 - 7:00 PM CST ESPN2 - New Orleans, LA

When Florida Atlantic has the ball...

Memphis better be on their toes in the secondary. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Rusty Smith was the Sun Belt player of the year, throwing for a conference best 3,352 yards and setting a school record with 27 touchdown passes against just 8 interceptions. Smithís favorite target has been sophomore receiver Cortez Gent, who has caught 61 balls for over 1,000 yards and 9 touchdowns.
While the Owls will run the football to the tune of 127 yards per game on the ground, donít expect this to be a major part of the offense other than to set up the pass. Junior running back Charles Pierre has been the teams top rusher with 733 yards and 7 touchdowns on 159 carries.

When Memphis has the ball...

They will be looking to senior quarterback Martin Hankins to lead the way. Hankins has rebounded from an average junior season to put together a solid final run through with the Tigers. Hankins has completed over 60% of his passes for nearly 3,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. Most importantly he comes into the New Orleans bowl playing his best football of the season, having thrown 12 touchdown passes in his last four games.
Like Florida Atlantic, the Tigers are a pass first team but have a two headed rushing attack that has been doing an adequate job this season. Joseph Doss and T.J. Pitts split the majority of carries this season, each averaging just over 4.5 yards per carry while combining for six of the teams thirteen rushing touchdowns.

Star watch...

The two quarterbacks Smith and Hankins will no doubt be the focal point of the game, as they have been for their respective teams all season. Donít forget about Florida Atlantics Frantz Joseph though. The transfer linebacker from Boston College finished the season with 121 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss and a pair of interceptions.

Deciding factor...

This game is really going to come down to which offense gets the hottest. Neither program has done much defensively this season, both allowing better than 30 points per game to opponents. With a couple of 3,000 yard passers on the field, donít expect a sudden change in that trend.

The staff says...

- - - - - F o o t b a l l   S t a f f - - - - - - - - O t h e r   S t a f f - - -
David Gregg Joey Jonathan Matt Ben Daniel Eddie Larry
177-97 169-105 175-99 179-95 165-109 - S e a s o n   R e c o r d s -

SCS.comPAPAJOHNS.COM BOWL - Cincinnati vs Southern Miss
December 22 - 12:00 PM CST ESPN2 - Birmingham, AL

When Cincinnati has the ball...

Points will be going up on the board. The Bearcats are very explosive and were 15th in the nation with 36.8 points per game this season. For first year head coach Brian Kelly it all starts with quarterback Ben Mauk who has put together a stellar season. The senior has completed 61% of his passes for 2800 yards and 27 touchdowns, while throwing just 6 interceptions.
Of course aiding Mauk has been a crop of talented receivers. Marcus Barnett and Dominick Goodman have caught 60 and 61 passes respectively, while each accumulating better than 770 yards receiving. Barnett has had a nose for the end zone, with five multi-touchdown games and 13 total on the season.

When Southern Miss has the ball...

Look for the Golden Eagles to give the football to talented running back Damion Fletcher. The junior has racked up more than 1,400 yards on the ground this season while rushing for 15 touchdowns. Southern Miss builds their offense around the run, averaging 200 yards per game on the ground, good for 23rd in the nation.
The solid run game has allowed for the two-headed passing game to put up over 200 yards per game as well. Seniors Jeremy Young and Stephen Reaves have split time under center. Neither has been tremendously successful, with Reaves being the more accurate passer but also throwing more interceptions. Down the stretch though it has been Young taking the snaps.

Star watch...

This game is going to come down to a battle between one teamís passing combo versus anotherís star running back. Ben Mauk and Marcus Barnett are the players to keep an eye on for the Bearcats, as those two have been hooking up in the passing game all season long. For Southern Miss itís all about Damion Fletcher who has run for 344 yards and 4 touchdowns in his last two games.

Deciding factor...

The battle between Damion Fletcher and Cincinnatiís rush defense. The Bearcats are only allowing 105 yards per game on the ground to opponents, and this may be the toughest line Fletcher has seen all season. Especially keep an eye on defensive end Anthony Hoke who has 15.5 tackles for a loss this season.

The staff says...

- - - - - F o o t b a l l   S t a f f - - - - - - - - O t h e r   S t a f f - - -
David Gregg Joey Jonathan Matt Ben Daniel Eddie Larry
177-97 169-105 175-99 179-95 165-109 - S e a s o n   R e c o r d s -

SCS.comNEW MEXICO BOWL - New Mexico vs Nevada
December 22 - 3:30 PM CST ESPN - Albuquerque, NM

When New Mexico has the ball...

Donít expect to be blown away, this is an offense that is only putting up about 25 points per game. Things start with power back Rodney Ferguson who despite posting nearly 1,200 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns has been very inconsistent, particularly down the stretch of the regular season.
The Lobos do have a pair of talented receivers for quarterback Donovan Porterie to throw the ball to. Marcus Smith, who is a very solid 6í2Ē 215, has caught 86 balls for over 1,000 yards this season. His counterpart, senior Travis Brown, has been equally effective with 64 catches for nearly 850 yards and 5 touchdowns. So while the passing game has struggled at points this season, New Mexico has the playmakers to challenge deep on occasion.

When Nevada has the ball...

They are going to put up some serious numbers. The Wolfpack are 8th in the nation in total offense at 501 yards per game, and are scoring 36 points per game. For them, itís all about the run game, which is ranked 12th in the country, with 226 yards per game.
Sleeping on Nevadaís passing game would be a mistake though. So what if their quarterback is only a freshman. In eight games this season Colin Kaepernick has thrown for 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns, against just 3 interceptions. Kaepernickís favorite target has been explosive junior receiver Marko Mitchell who has topped 1,000 yards receiving on just 47 catches, good for a 22 yard average.

Star watch...

Thereís no doubt the biggest name in this game is Luke Lippincott. The junior running back is one of the top rushers in the country, having rushed for nearly 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns. Ferguson will be the big name for the Lobos with his power rushing style.

Deciding factor...

Which young quarterback will manage the game better? Nevada isnít the only team with an underclassmen taking snaps, New Mexico is led by sophomore quarterback Donovan Porterie. Whichever signal caller does a better job playing mistake free football and managing the offense will come away with the win.

The staff says...

- - - - - F o o t b a l l   S t a f f - - - - - - - - O t h e r   S t a f f - - -
David Gregg Joey Jonathan Matt Ben Daniel Eddie Larry
177-97 169-105 175-99 179-95 165-109 - S e a s o n   R e c o r d s -

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