Arizona Bowl - Tucson
Utah State vs. New Mexico State
Friday, December 29, 2:30 pm PT - CBSC
CRIS Opener: Utah State -3 O/U 61
CRIS Current: Utah State -4 O/U 62
The Arizona Bowl features a pair of Aggies with Utah State in the postseason for the sixth time in seven years taking on New Mexico State who is making its first bowl appearance since the Eisenhower Administration. NMSU head coach Doug Martin led one of the more underrated turnaround in college football this season after combining for eight victories his first three years. A big part of the turnaround was the play of senior quarterback Tyler Rodgers. The Aggies rank fourth nationally in passing yards and the Arizona native Rogers ranked second in both completions (29) and passing yards (347.7) per game. The New Mexico State defense also improved by over a touchdown per game though the unit certainly benefited from a watered down Sun Belt as five teams failed to average over 21 ppg. Eliminate games against offensively inept UTEP, South Alabama, and Idaho, and NMSU’s scoring average allowed jumps to 36.1 ppg.
Utah State’s offense grades out as average in the MWC (393 ypg), but proved capable against lesser foes with five games of 38 or more points. It’s also important to note that USU’s offense saw an uptick in production when Jordan Love was named the team’s full-time starting quarterback. Over the final five games of the regular season, Love anchored an offense that averaged 32.6 ppp and 421 ypg of total offense. Meanwhile, Utah State showed vulnerability against the better passing attacks on their schedule. The overall numbers look strong but they faced a handful of teams that were either run-first (UNLV, New Mexico, Air Force) or had bottom-tier passing attacks (San Jose State, BYU). Colorado State and Boise State combined for 663 yards, 7 TDs and no INTs against Utah State. New Mexico State isn't on that level from an efficiency standpoint, but the volume will be there. And don't be shocked if there isn't a defensive score or two. Both Utah State and New Mexico State coughed up the ball a combined 48 times this season! All signs point toward this bowl matchup going over the total.