New Mexico Bowl Free Pick: BYU Cougars vs. UTEP Miners

BYU Cougars
(6-6, 7-5 ATS)

UTEP Miners
(6-6, 5-7 ATS)

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The UTEP Miners and BYU Cougars have led fairly opposite lives this year. The men from the Lone Star State might have a relatively short trek to get to Albuquerque, but they certainly haven’t played well of late, losing five of their last six to limp into the bowl season. BYU is on fire though, having lost just once over the course of the last month of the season. The two will butt heads in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday to kick off the bowl campaign.

BYU really doesn’t have that much of an offense this year, which is really a big time switch from the norm. However, considering the fact that the school lost its quarterback (Max Hall) and tight end (Dennis Pitta) to the NFL and its running back (Harvey Unga) to an expulsion from the university, things aren’t all that bad in Cougar Country. Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall has done a great job keeping this program together, even if the entire offense really does revolve around just two men. QB Jake Heaps has come on strong in recent weeks, putting together nine of his 11 TD tosses over the course of his last four games. He has only thrown for 2,052 yards this year, but for a freshman, he is certainly coming along. You can bet that RB JJ Di Luigi is going to be a top target to watch here in New Mexico as well. Di Luigi was the heart and soul of the team, and he was clearly the MVP in a year in which he was supposed to be nothing more than a third down back. He rushed for 819 yards and caught 42 passes for 422 yards, totaling eight TDs, all of which were team highs.

This was supposed to be a year in which QB Trevor Vittatoe and the UTEP offense shined brightly, but that just wasn’t the way things panned out this year. The Miners didn’t score more than 28 points once in their last six games of the season. Ironically, it was without the services of RB Donald Buckram in the first half of the year that things were going well. Buckram never really got going this year like he was supposed to, leaving RB Joseph Banyard to carry the load. Banyard only had 612 yards on the ground, and the Miners consequently only ranked No. 60 in the land in rushing. Vittatoe only threw for 2,511 yards and was well short of his totals in recent years as the team’s starting quarterback. UTEP is one of the few teams in this bowl season that ranks in the bottom half of all teams in major college football in every major offensive category. The defense wasn’t all that swift either, as allowing 399.8 yards per game and ranking No. 73 or worse in all yardage categories wasn’t anything to be proud of, especially in Conference USA.

We normally hate laying this type of chalk, especially in bowl games, but we feel as though this is a nice spot to do it in. Conventional wisdom suggests that we roll with the hot hand, and knowing that the Cougars played a significantly harder schedule this year than the Miners did, we have no reservations about posting a victory of at least two TDs for the men from the Beehive State.

New Mexico Bowl Pick: BYU Cougars -11.5

Bowling Green, Ky., stores open early for post-Thanksgiving shopping rush.

Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News November 26, 2004 By Courtney Craig, The Daily News, Bowling Green, Ky. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News Nov. 26–If the early bird catches the best Christmas presents, then Joshua Shaw is flying high this holiday season.

With the Christmas season officially under way, the Hart County man got to Bowling Green’s Greenwood Mall at 5:30 a.m. today to take advantage of early savings.

“It’s holiday fun,” Shaw said. “I like getting in the crowd and fighting for stuff. I do this every year.” Shaw had just gone through a long line to get one of 500 free shopping bags full of coupons given by Greenwood Mall officials, hoping to get one of two bags that contained a $500 gift certificate to any store in the mall. here bowling green ky

Although Shaw was not one of the lucky ones, he said he still appreciates the discounts.

The line moved so quickly that it took mall officials just 16 minutes to hand out all 500 bags, according to Shelly Farris, marketing manager for Greenwood Mall. She said this morning’s crowd was about average.

“I think (the people who won the $500 gift certificates) were in shock,” Farris said. “They were very excited.” But Shaw was by no means the earliest bird — some people had camped out overnight, when temperatures dipped below freezing, to be ready when the mall opened at 4 a.m. By 6, the stores were teeming with shoppers.

“We’re here for all the free stuff and sales,” said Diane Eidson of Bowling Green, who was standing in line for a shopping bag with her friends, Katy Hall and Karen Hoover, also of Bowling Green.

The three have made it a tradition to shop early the day after Thanksgiving each year. Though they don’t expect to get all their shopping done today, they enjoy the occasion.

“It’s the hunt that’s fun,” Hall said.

Lacey Blankenship, an 18-year-old Western Kentucky University student from Scottsville, said she also was there for all the early-morning sales. She got to the mall around 6 a.m., but had already been to Best Buy earlier this morning. here bowling green ky

“It’s a tradition,” she said. “I do this every year.” The mall was also the second stop for Elaine Turner of Russellville, who had already been to Goody’s when she arrived at Greenwood Mall at 5 a.m. with her daughter, Western student Lindsay Turner.

“I’m surprised a bit by how many people are here,” Elaine Turner said.

Like many people at the mall this morning, the Turners have made post-Thanksgiving shopping a tradition. While Lindsay, 20, was still a little sleepy-eyed, she said she was happy to be there.

“I just like coming,” she said.

Numerous other retail stores in Bowling Green opened early today, drawing crowds from around the region.


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