Bowl Breakdown: New Mexico

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t1_ault.jpg's Gennaro Filice analyzes the matchup.

The Lobos are making their fifth bowl appearance in six seasons, and for the second straight year, they'll be playing in front of their home crowd at University Stadium (where New Mexico is 5-1 this season).

Offensively, New Mexico is underwhelming -- ranking 84th in total offense (357.42 yards per game) and 78th in scoring offense (24.83 points per game) -- but the Lobos do boast a few notable playmakers. First-team All-Mountain West RB Rodney Ferguson eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive year, finishing with 1,177 rushing yards and 14 total touchdowns. Dangerous wideouts Travis Brown and Marcus Smith combined for 155 catches, 1,950 yards and eight touchdowns.

While New Mexico's offense leaves something to be desired, the defense has been stout. The Lobos rank 23rd in total defense, giving up 329 yards per game. Bookends Tyler Donaldson and Michael Tuohy set the tone in Rocky Long's defense; the formidable defensive end tandem has combined for 9 1/2 sacks and 28 tackles for loss.

New Mexico's best overall player is All-America kicker John Sullivan, who leads the nation in field goals with 2.36 per game.

It's been a season of what could have been for Nevada. The Wolf Pack went 3-5 in games decided by eight points or fewer, including a 69-67 quadruple-overtime loss to Boise State and a 28-26 defeat to Hawaii. But Hawaii's BCS berth opened up a bowl spot for the 6-6 'Pack.

Nevada has one of the most prolific offenses in the nation, racking up 488.92 yards per game. Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault catches teams off-guard with an offense he created called "The Pistol" -- a hybrid of shotgun and single-back in which the quarterback lines up a couple yards behind center. Following a foot injury to starting QB Nick Graziano in Game 5, Colin Kaepernick took over and performed brilliantly over the final seven games. The WAC Freshman of the Year threw for 2,038 yards, 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions, while rushing for 568 yards and six scores.

Nevada's defense hasn't matched its offensive success. The 'Pack give up nearly 404 yards and 33 points per game, though the unit did show improvement at the end of the season.

This marks the first time these two teams will face off since playing to a scoreless tie back in 1942. New Mexico is trying to snap a five-game bowl losing streak, while Nevada looks to finish above .500 for the third straight year. New Mexico has the better defense and the homefield advantage, but something tells me Kaepernick will flourish on this stage.

The pick: Nevada 46, New Mexico 35