New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico State vs. Fresno State
On Saturday, December 16th, college football bowl game action kicks off with a slate of seven games, including this matchup at University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Odds as of 12/10, 6:40 a.m. PT
Almost every bowl-bound team is dealing with bad news in December — with the transfer portal being the main source of negativity — and New Mexico State is no different. The Aggies appear to be getting some good news to overshadow the bad, however.
According to coach Jerry Kill, quarterback Diego Pavia is recovering from a shoulder injury and is expected to be ready to play for the Aggies against Fresno State. Pavia, voted Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year, accounted for 32 touchdowns (26 passing, six rushing) while passing for 2,915 yards and rushing for 851 yards. Pavia will be without his No. 2 receiver. Trent Hudson, who finished with 35 receptions and 10 touchdowns, is one of at least eight players who are leaving Las Cruces and entering the transfer portal. If Pavia does not play, the Aggies would be in big trouble.
Kill has provided some rare thrills for the New Mexico State program. The Aggies are 10-4, including a 49-35 loss to Liberty in the C-USA title game that stopped an eight-game winning streak. The highlight, of course, was New Mexico State’s 31-10 win at Auburn as a 25-point underdog on Nov. 18.
The opposing coach in this bowl, Fresno’s Jeff Tedford, has temporarily left the team because of health issues. Tim Skipper, the assistant head coach, will lead the team in Albuquerque. Tedford guided the Bulldogs to an 8-4 record, but losses in their final three regular-season games to San Jose State, New Mexico and San Diego State soured what was a promising season.
Fresno’s problems down the stretch can be linked to starting quarterback Mikey Keene dealing with injuries, including concussion-like symptoms. Logan Fife is the backup and a significant drop-off from Keene, who should be cleared to start.
While it’s tough to gauge the Bulldogs’ motivation for this game, the Aggies are certainly excited about it. New Mexico State is rallying for support and will have most of the 30,000-plus fans expected to be in attendance. Kill coached the Aggies to a 24-19 victory over Bowling Green in last year’s Quick Lane Bowl. DraftKings opened New Mexico State as a 1-point favorite and early money on that side has inflated the price. The line move has something to do with Tedford’s situation, and Kill’s coaching edge could make the difference.
Pick: New Mexico State, 27-23