New Mexico State beat out three other schools to receive a bowl game invitational after a 57-year draught, and will line up against Utah State Dec. 29 in the Home Loans Arizona Bowl in Tucson
The two schools have been rivals for years and Utah State handed the Aggies a 24-10 home setback this season
By ARNIE LESHIN, Santa Fe Today
New Mexico State was fortunate, not only to end the 57-year draught, but receive one of the bids that was available while three other schools did not make the list.
Of course the Aggies can’t feel bad for the ones left out, for their own football program is finally going to play in a bowl game, the third annual Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl on Dec. 29 at Arizona Stadium in Tucson.
It will be the school’s fourth appearance in a bowl game, but first since 1960 when it defeated Utah State, 20-13. This came about with Saturday’s 22-17 home victory over South Alabama that evened its record at 6-6.
Now NMSU lines up against a familiar foe, yes Utah State. The schools just announced they would renew their home-and-away rivalry next season. For the Aggies, this is their final season in the Sun Belt Conference and they will now play as a Football Bowl Subdivision independent. They and Utah State were previous opponents in the Western Athletic Conference.
Now they are scheduled to play at Utah State on Sept. 8 of next season, and in Las Cruces on Nov. 6, 2021. Utah State leads the overall series 30-7, and is making its 12th bowl appearance and fifth since 2011. It also finished up at 6-6, and that includes a 24-10 triumph at NMSU.
Prior to 1960, the Aggies played in the Sun Bowl in 1936 and 1959, and are 2-0-1.
Both schools appear to be satisfied by their hooking up in bowl time.
Said New Mexico State Athletic Director Mario Moccia: “John Harwell, their athletic director, is a good friend of mine and he texted me a few days ago and said it looks like we might be meeting up in the bowl. He added that it’s not that they are tired of playing in bowl games, it’s that we are playing you guys again.”
But Hartwell added, we will be there.
Aggies’ head coach Doug Martin, now in his fifth season, is fully aware of Utah State’s football program.
“It is a good program,” he said, “that has been in bowl games. They are used to this. Our players aren’t. We have to do a good job preparing our guys.”
A down year for the state’s other Division I school, University of New Mexico. No bowl game. But for NMSU, it’s happy to finally be going bowling.
Kickoff is 3:30 p.m. and the contest will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network.