BOX; Las Vegas Bowl

UCLA (7-5) vs. New Mexico (7-6)

When: 3:30 p.m.


ABOUT UCLA: Coach Bob Toledo was fired last week, and Ed Kezirian--the assistant director of academic services--is serving as the interim coach; newly hired Coach Karl Dorrell is finishing out the season with his current employer, the Denver Broncos. The Bruins have more talent than New Mexico, but do they want to play? Redshirt freshman TB Tyler Ebell has provided a spark in the running game since taking over the starting job midway through the season, and he runs behind a talented line. TE Mike Seidman is a big weapon. WR Tab Perry can be a big-play guy. The defense is nothing special, though LBs Spencer Havner and Marcus Reese are active playmakers. E Dave Ball has 10.5 sacks. CB Ricky Manning is the best player in the secondary.

ABOUT NEW MEXICO: This is the seventh bowl appearance in school history and just the second since 1961. Lobos Coach Rocky Long was UCLA's defensive coordinator in 1996-97. The Lobos have a strong ground game, averaging 189.2 yards per game. Redshirt freshman DonTrell Moore has rushed for 1,117 yards and needs 124 to set the school's single-season record. He had no yards after the first three games of the season. QB Casey Kelly is limited as a passer, but he generally avoids mistakes. The Lobos--who use a 3-3-5 set--are stingy against the run (118.1 ypg), and they've allowed just one foe to run for more than 100 yards in their past games. The secondary can be exploited, but New Mexico has allowed just two TD passes in its past four games. E Daniel Kegler, a senior from Frostproof, leads the Lobos with seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss. LBs Charles Moss, Nick Speegle and Billy Strother are the leading tacklers.


THE KEY: If UCLA comes to play, it will win.

THE BUZZ: Mountain West Conference teams have won the past three Vegas bowls. But New Mexico was 0-4 against bowl teams this season, losing by a combined 143-59 (an average score of 36-15).

THE LINE: UCLA by 101⁄2.

; THE PICK: UCLA 23, New Mexico 17.

Hawaii Bowl

Hawaii (10-3) vs. Tulane (7-5)

When: 7 p.m.



ABOUT HAWAII: The Warriors are last in the nation in rushing attempts (286) but second in passing attempts (679) and first in passing yards per game (387.9). When he's on, sophomore QB Timmy Chang runs the offense with aplomb. But he goes through stretches where he looks lost. Five receivers have more than 40 receptions, with Justin Colbert and Britton Komine the leaders (a combined 139 catches and 16 TDs). But as prolific as the offense is (500.8 ypg), the defense is a sieve (395.8 ypg), especially against the run (170.6). Every opponent but one (a horrid Tulsa team) ran for at least 100 yards, and nine ran for at least 150. LB Pisa Tinoisamoa is the leading tackler, and he can really run. E Travis LaBoy is the best pass rusher.

ABOUT TULANE: The Green Wave overcame a 2-3 start--and an embarrassing loss to lowly Army -- to qualify for this bowl. It's sort of hard to understand how Tulane won seven games, given that the Green Wave has been outgained by an average of 60 yards per game. TB Mewelde Moore is the key to the offense: He's the leading rusher and receiver. The Green Wave are hampered by not having a true deep threat at receiver. The defense is awful against the run but quite good against the pass (177.6 ypg, 21 picks, just 10 TDs allowed). CB Lynaris Elpheage received some All-American notice because of his eight interceptions. The Green Wave have a good pass rush (40 sacks), headed by Es Kenan Blackmon (a senior from Tallahassee Godby) and Floyd Dorsey.

THE KEY: If Moore has a big game, Tulane should be able to keep this close. While Tulane's pass defense has been solid, the Green Wave have seen nothing like Hawaii's passing attack. Hawaii is going to score; it's up to Moore to make sure Tulane does, too.

THE BUZZ: When Hawaii's offense is clicking, it is the best -- and most fun to watch -- in the nation.

THE LINE: Hawaii by 12.

THE PICK: Hawaii 41, Tulane 24.

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