'Best' and 'Worst' awards from the New Mexico Bowl

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- My look at some of the best and worst performances and happenings from Temple’s 37-15 New Mexico Bowl victory over Wyoming:

Best player of the game: How can you not give this honor to Chris Coyer? Sure Temple tailback Bernard Pierce rushed for 100 yards and two scores. But Coyer, Temple’s quarterback, had 240 total yards in route being named the game’s offensive most outstanding performer. The redshirt sophomore had 12 carries for 71 yards (a team-best 5.9 yards per carry). He also completed 8 of 12 passing for 169 yards, highlighted by a 61-yard touchdown pass.

Worst performance of the game: Watching Brett Smith play on Saturday was like watching a toddler trying to take his first steps. The freshman quarterback stumbled and fell flat on his face against the Owls. Smith threw three interceptions. At least two others passes should have also been intercepted.  It was hard to believe that he is was the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the year.

Best performance by a defensive player:  I had a lot to pick from, but, Tahir Whitehead gets it for another one of his dominating performances. The Owls outside linebacker did his best James Harrison impersonation, minus the late hits. All over the field, Whitehead finished with a team-high 11 tackles and was named the game’s defensive most outstanding performer.

Worst performance by a defensive player: I couldn’t single-out one Wyoming defender. Yes, the team was that bad.  So I chose the Cowboys entire defense. That unit looked liked it was playing flag football – and doing a horrible job at it. Wyoming yielded 424 yards of total yards – 255 came on the ground. The Cowboys looked like blocking sleds on some plays – make that most plays.

Best performance by a special-teamer: Brandon McManus' New Mexico Bowl record tying three field goals made the Owls placekicker/punter the logical pick to win this award. The junior also booted four kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks. And his only punt went for 40 yards.

Worst of the worst: Wyoming’s fans. They were all over Albuquerque in the days leading up to the game. And they outnumbered Temple fans 4-1 inside University Stadium. However, with their team down 21-0 early in the second quarter, some in Cowboys Nation started to make their way to the exits. So much for showing some unconditional support.

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