2018 New Mexico Bowl: Teams, Facts, and Pick
A Group of Five showcase.
The American Southwest is home to the 2018 New Mexico Bowl, this year’s second bowl game to kick off.
This is by tradition one of the early bowl games in college football, at least since it came into being in 2006. The WAC, may it rest in peace, had a tie-in to this bowl, as did the Pac-12 briefly. For the last six seasons, however, this has been a Conference USA vs. Mountain West game.
In 2018, those two teams are the Utah State Aggies (MWC) and North Texas Mean Green (C-USA), two programs with 19 wins between them this season. As Group of Five bowl games go, this is a satisfying one.
Learn about the two teams’ paths to Albuquerque and who we think will win the game.
Previous Bowls Picked: Cure
2018 New Mexico Bowl: This Year’s Bowl Info
|Saturday, December 15, 2018, 2:00pm ET (11:00am PT)|
|Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico|
|Broadcast on ESPN|
|$1,050,000 payout (Link: College Football Poll)|
|Utah State is a 9-point favorite|
2018 New Mexico Bowl: Utah State Aggies
|10-2 (7-1 Mountain West); Mountain West Mountain Division co-champion|
|Best Win: BYU|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 3rd, Total Offense 11th, Rushing Offense 34th, 3rd Downs 21st, Time of Possession 124th, Turnover Margin 8th, Sacks Allowed T-3rd, Red Zone 40th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 38th, Total Defense 57th, Rushing Defense 44th, Opponent 3rd Downs 29th, Sacks Per Game T-40th, TFL Per Game T-21st, Interceptions T-10th, Opponent Red Zone 87th|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking T-40th, Punts Per Game T-100th|
2018 New Mexico Bowl: North Texas Mean Green
|9-3 (5-3 Conference USA); 2nd place in C-USA West|
|Best Win: Southern Mississippi|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 21st, Total Offense 15th, Rushing Offense 85th, 3rd Downs 63rd, Time of Possession 35th, Turnover Margin T-16th, Sacks Allowed T-64th, Red Zone 47th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense T-29th, Total Defense 42nd, Rushing Defense 15th, Opponent 3rd Downs 17th, Sacks Per Game T-26, TFL Per Game T-16th, Interceptions T-4th, Opponent Red Zone T-23rd|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking 12th, Punts Per Game T-85th|
2018 New Mexico Bowl: Head-to-Head
This is the eighth meeting all-time between North Texas and Utah State. All seven of the prior games have come from 1996 and beyond.
Utah State leads the all-time series, 4-3.
These two teams most recently met in 2004, a game which North Texas won 31-23. (Link: Winsipedia)
2018 New Mexico Bowl: Most Likely Standout Player
It’s a tie: Mason Fine, QB, North Texas and Jordan Love, QB, Utah State. Given the seasons that each of these players has had, it’s hard to pick one quarterback over another. The offenses of the Aggies and the Mean Green are potent, and Fine and Love are major reasons why.
Fine, a junior, has tossed for 3,734 yards this season including 27 touchdown passes and just five picks this season. He started the season with two 400-plus yard games and has not looked back. Fittingly, he was named the repeat Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year this past week. (Link: Star-Telegram)
As for Love, a sophomore, he’s thrown for 3,208 yards, 28 touchdowns, and also only five interceptions. He had one bad game against Wyoming, but most of the rest have been stellar. Against San Jose State, he was just shy of 500 passing yards amongst his five touchdowns.
Neither one of these teams has a great passing defense, aside from the fact that they do generate interceptions. Expect both teams to sling it around the ballpark with one or both quarterbacks having huge days.
2018 New Mexico Bowl: Pick
When one boils it down, this is a good matchup of Group of Five teams, and perhaps one of the better ones you will see during 2018 bowl season. These are two high-flying offenses so, even though both defenses are at least average, expect plenty of points.
North Texas won nine games and got through Conference USA with one of its best records. Regardless of the outcome of the contest, it was a strong season for both teams. It just so happens that Utah State is one of the best Group of Five programs this season. They are ranked in the Coaches Poll and are one of only five Group of Five teams to have two losses or fewer. Utah State’s offense is a little better and more well-rounded than that of North Texas; this is because the Aggies have a more productive run game than the Mean Green.
This is the sort of game where, for those interested in such things, Utah State could find themselves in a slugfest and not cover the spread, but they deserve to be favored. Do not make the mistake of brushing off this game because they are not big-name teams: both are quite competent and they are well-matched.
Pick: Utah State