Saturday bowl primer
New Mexico Bowl
Fresno State vs. Wyoming
(Saturday, 4:30 p.m. EST, ESPN)
What to watch for:
• Does Wyoming have the ability up front to slow down the Fresno State run game? I love the no non-sense approach of Bulldogs running back Ryan Mathews and think his combination of power, balance and burst will simply be too much for the Wyoming front seven to overcome. Mathews has the size and strength to really wear down opposing defenses, and I expect him to find some big creases open once the second half rolls around.
• However, if the Cowboys are going to have a chance slowing down Mathews, it’s going to start with the play of defensive linemen John Fletcher and Mitch Unrein. Fletcher is a long armed 6-6, 272-pound lineman who displays the quickness to fire off the snap and create negative plays behind the line. Unrein, on the other hand, isn’t a real athletic defensive end, but he’s stout on contact and knows how to set the edge. These two need to win their individual matchups on first and second downs in order to force Fresno State into uncomfortable third-and-long situations.
• When Fresno State is forced to the throw the football, wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu is a frequent target. He’s a tall (6-4), long-limbed receiver who does a nice job high-pointing the football and coming down with the catch. He isn’t a real explosive deep threat but showcases good suddenness out of his breaks for his size. The Wyoming secondary is really going to have a tough time matching up with him.
St. Petersburg Bowl
UCF vs. Rutgers
(Saturday, 8 p.m. EST, ESPN)
What to watch for:
• However, one guy who should consistently be able to slow down the UCF pass rush is Rutgers left tackle Anthony Davis. Davis possesses a massive frame (6-6, 325), long arms and impressive athleticism for his size. He consistently is able to reach the corner, redirect cleanly off the counter move and is nearly impossible to disengage from once he gets hold of you. He will have his work cut out for him tonight, but playing possibly his final college game, I expect him to be pretty much dominant in all aspects of the game.
• One guy who needs to have a big game in front of NFL scouts is Rutgers’ undersized wideout, Tim Brown. Brown is listed at only 5-8, 165 pounds, but when evaluating him on tape, you can’t help but notice his burst, deep speed and toughness over the middle of the field. He currently has 51 receptions for 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns and is the kind of guy I can see making a roster and creating the occasional big play as a sub package receiver in an NFL offense.
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