THE 2016 BOWL SEASON WILL KICK OFF WITH TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO TAKING ON NEW MEXICO IN THE 2016 GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL
Matchup: UTSA (6-6) vs. New Mexico (8-4)
When: December 17, 2016
Time (TV): 2 pm Eastern (ESPN)
Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico (University Stadium)
This will be the 11th annual Gildan New Mexico Bowl and the fourth that the Lobos have participated in. Needless to say, the Lobos will have a major advantage as they host the UTSA Roadrunners in their own backyard. In 2013, the Lobos dropped the first game of the season to the Roadrunners 21-13 in Albuquerque but got their revenge the next season in San Antonio, winning the game 21-9.
In only their sixth season as a program, the Roadrunners have made a bowl game for the first time in school history. The program went 7-3 during the 2013 season but was not eligible for postseason play. UTSA will attempt to keep the road winning tradition of this young series going by picking apart a questionable Lobos defense. The Roadrunners will try to use the momentum they have gained late in the season as they won five of their last eight games to finish second in Conference USA’s West Division.
- Bowl History: 0-0
Key Players: QB Dalton Sturm is the general of the offense and they go as he goes. RB Jarveon Williams and RB Jalen Rhodes meshed well this year as they combined for over 1,800 yards rushing. LB Josiah Tauaefa leads the team with 104 tackles.
Best Game(s): The best moment of the season was by far getting the win in their last game against Charlotte and qualifying for their first ever bowl game. Their most impressive win is arguably their win against Middle Tennessee (8-4) 45-25. Although they ended up losing to Texas A&M 23-10, they did play them very well.
Worst Game(s): The Roadrunners suffered a loss to a 4-8 UTEP team in the fifth overtime (longest game in C-USA history). They missed two crucial kicks late, one in OT, that would’ve ensured a win.
Keys To Winning: Easier said than done, but they will have to slow down the run game of New Mexico. In order to beat a good running team, avoiding three-and-outs and turnovers will have to be a must.
The New Mexico Lobos earned a share of the Mountain West Mountain Division title with the nation’s No. 1 rushing offense (360.9 YPG). They have used two quarterbacks effectively for the majority of the season and can create offense in multiple ways. New Mexico is 5-1 this year at home, while UTSA is just 2-4 on the road. The Lobos lost the inaugural Gildan New Mexico Bowl in 2006 against San Jose State but redeemed themselves in 2007 with a win over Nevada. With a loss against Arizona in this bowl game last season, they can keep the pattern going with a win this year against the Roadrunners.
- Bowl History: 3-9-1
Key Players: Their three-headed rushing attack is impressive, to say the least. Both Tyrone Owens and Teriyon Gipson have each rushed for over 1,000 yards this season. Richard McQuarley has only rushed for 588 yards this season, but he leads the team with 16 touchdowns. In 2014, QB Lamar Jordan rushed for 104 yards against the Roadrunners. Although he has only caught 22 passes this season, WR Dameon Gamblin is very dynamic once the ball is in his hands. DL Nik D’Avanzo has 60 tackles, 9 TFL’s, and 5 sacks.
Best Game(s): The Lobos played their best game in the last game of the year, which possibly will carry some momentum into this bowl game. New Mexico had three rushers over 100 yards (Gipson, McQuarley, and Jordan) and prevented Wyoming from locking up the Mountain Division itself.
Worst Game(s): It is always disappointing for the Lobos when they lose to New Mexico State, but it seemed even worse this season due to the fact that NMSU only won three games total. The Lobos also dropped a game against a 2-10 Rutgers team in week three of the season.
Keys To Winning: Run the football… Seems pretty simple if you ask me. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. The Lobos will have to focus on finishing drives and not settling for three points because UTSA can put points up if they are clicking.
Prediction: New Mexico 38 UTSA 20, Lobos’ rushing attack is too much.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl History
Dec. 19, 2015 Arizona 45 New Mexico 37
Dec. 20, 2014 Utah State 21 UTEP 6
Dec. 21, 2013 Colorado State 48 Washington State 45
Dec. 15, 2012 Arizona 49 Nevada 48
Dec. 17, 2011 Temple 37 Wyoming 15
Dec. 18, 2010 BYU 52 UTEP 24
Dec. 19, 2009 Wyoming 35 Fresno State 28 (2 OT)
Dec. 20, 2008 Colorado State 40 Fresno State 35
Dec. 22, 2007 New Mexico 23 Nevada 0
Dec. 23, 2006 San Jose State 20 New Mexico 12
Fun fact: New Mexico’s state bird is a Roadrunner!
Gifts: Gift suite; Oakley sunglasses and Enduro 25 backpack; Bluetooth earbuds; beanie; Gildan stadium blanket; cap; selfie stick