Containing Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith is one of Temple's top priorities.

Leaving the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder some breathing room could translate into a Gildan New Mexico Bowl loss for the Owls (8-4).

That's because the true freshman will arguably be the most exciting offensive player on the field not named Bernard Pierce in Saturday's game in Albuquerque.

"Brett is one of the best competitors I've coached," Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said of the Mountain West Conference freshman of the year. "He's very driven and has great leadership skills for a freshman."

Smith, who started every game for the Cowboys (8-4), has completed 233 of 385 passes for 2,495 yards and 18 touchdowns to go with eight interceptions. Smith also leads the team in rushing touchdowns (10) and is second in rushing yards (645).

His 3,140 yards of total offense shattered the MWC freshman record (2,691) set by TCU quarterback Andy Dalton back in 2007.

"Our guys rally around him," Christensen said of Smith. "They follow him, and he will be a captain for this bowl game.

"As a true freshman, he's a great competitor who is never satisfied with his performance."

Bowl game advantage? One would assume having played in the New Mexico Bowl two seasons ago benefits the Cowboys against Temple.

Christensen disagrees.

"I don't think it's a huge advantage," he said. "We've played down here, but . . . I don't think it will play a big role in the outcome of the football game."

Owls land recruit. Jackson Matteo, a senior offensive tackle at Broad Run High School (Va.), gave an oral commitment to play at Temple.

The 6-foot-5, 276-pounder chose the Owls over offers from Ball State, Bryant, Marshall, Massachusetts, Kent State, Ohio, and Old Dominion. He is the Owls' 27th committed player for 2012.

Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939, kpompey@phillynews.com,
or @pompeysgridlock on Twitter. Read his blog "Owls Inq,"