Bowl Preview – GMAC Bowl

March 3, 2006 darnell

GMAC BOWL Wednesday, December 21st 8:00 PM ET – Ladd Peebles Stadium – Mobile, AL

Texas-El Paso Miners vs. Toledo Rockets

This was not the destination either team had hopes for but it will certainly provide an entertaining matchup. Both teams are in the top 20 in total offense in the country so whoever’s defense steps up or whoever has the ball last will win, one or the other. UTEP was poised to make a trip to the C-USA Championship but the Miners dropped their last two games and finished a game behind Tulsa in the West Division. The offense scored 23 and 27 points in those last two games, the lowest offensive output since week 4.

It was a very similar ending for Toledo who controlled its own destiny at the end of the regular season but a home loss to Northern Illinois took that out of its hands. The Rockets recovered to defeat Bowling Green to finish 8-3 but were denied a return trip to the MAC Championship. Toledo finished 17th in the country in total offense and 14th in scoring offense, averaging 445.2 ypg and 34.9 ppg respectively. The running game was the strength as the Rockets finished 12th in rushing offense and 6th in yard per carry average.

The Miners were very effective on offense as well this season despite the final two games. UTEP ended the regular season 20th in total offense and 21st in scoring offense. Just the opposite of Toledo, the Miners rely more heavily on the passing game, averaging 310.5 ypg, good for 8th in the nation. The running game was extremely inconsistent this season as they ran for 145 or more yards six times but were held to 97 yards or fewer five times. The total offense went over 400 yards in each of their last four games.

The defenses of both teams did not finish strong. Toledo finished 36th in scoring defense but a trend of allowing more points in every one of its last seven games does not bode well. The Rockets closed the season allowing 3, 14, 15, 21, 21, 35 and 41 points. Two of the three worst efforts occurred in the last two weeks of the season. The Miners were erratic most of the season and it didn’t end well. After allowing 20.3 ppg in its first six games, UTEP allowed 36 ppg in its final four games not counting the 1-AA game.

Toledo finished this season going just 2-6 against the number when favored including a 0-4 ATS mark on the road. The Rockets also finished 0-3 ATS when favored by fewer than two touchdowns. UTEP was a favorite in every game this season so being the underdog is a new role for the Miners. UTEP was 2-3 ATS on the road. Combined, both went 7-4 under with a total of 56 or higher while Toledo was a big under team on the road going 5-1 on the season.

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