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2016 New Mexico Bowl, New Mexico vs. UTSA Prediction, Game Preview, History, Scores

Gildan New Mexico Bowl Prediction, UTSA vs. New Mexico Game Preview, History, Scores


Three reasons why you should watch the Gildan New Mexico Bowl between UTSA (6-6) vs. New Mexico (8-4), why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.


Broadcast

200-new-mexicoDate: Saturday, December 17th
Game Time: 2:00 pm
Venue: University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
Network: ESPN

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Scroll down for the video preview and bowl history

The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness (1 best-40 worst): 35 out of 40

Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Happy bowl season! Okay, for you true and literal bowl heads out there, the North Carolina Central vs. Grambling State showdown in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl is technically the start of the 2016-2017 bowl season, but c’mon. The FBS bowl run starts in Albuquerque with two teams that should be well represented.

The fan interest might be solid. Yeah, considering it stayed home last year, too, New Mexico going to the New Mexico Bowl might be about as exciting to the players as getting meat loaf for dinner, but it was a good game. The Lobos lost a wild 45-37 shootout to Arizona, and now this is just the program’s second bowl appearance since 2007 – also, the New Mexico Bowl. UTSA’s campus is over 700 miles away, but it’s the program’s first bowl ever.

Do you like running games? No, really, DO YOU LIKE RUNNING GAMES?! Well, UTSA doesn’t really have much of one, but if you enjoy explosive ground attacks, New Mexico will scratch that itch. No. 1 in the nation in rushing offense, the Lobos have rushed for 221 yards or more in every game, topping out with a 568-yard, seven-score day in a win over Mountain West runner-up Wyoming to end the regular season.

Here’s Why UTSA Will Win The Gildan New Mexico Bowl

The Roadrunner defensive front has been terrific against the run over the second half of the season. It got barreled on in the first month, but it didn’t allow over 200 rushing yards the rest of the way, giving up just eight yards in the regular season finale against Charlotte. And why? The D is getting behind the line more and more. Expect at least seven tackles for loss.

New Mexico can throw, and it can’t do much when you throw. The Lobo secondary hasn’t been ripped to shreds, but the teams that tried to throw didn’t have too much of a problem. There aren’t enough interceptions, going pickles in seven games. On the other side, New Mexico is all about running the ball, which should open things up downfield – in theory. The Lobos are only averaging 7.6 yards per pass. By comparison, Air Force only runs the ball, too, and it averages 11 yards per throw.

Time of possession … New Mexico needs it, and UTSA might not give it away. The Roadrunner offense is outstanding at coming up with the third down conversions needed to keep things rolling – holding the ball for just under 32 minutes a game. The Lobos live on ball control.

Here’s Why New Mexico Will Win The Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Being at home for this should matter a little bit … especially considering New Mexico lost last season. There shouldn’t be much of a letdown when it comes to not going anywhere different – the 45-37 loss to Arizona last year should take care of that.

Lobos, crank up the pass rush. New Mexico doesn’t live behind opposing lines, but it could and should against a porous UTSA offensive front. Garrett Hughes and Nik D’Avanzo have to own the game. If they can crank up the intensity, they should be able to slow down the Roadrunner offense.

Fourth downs will matter. Who dominated this year on fourth downs? Good running teams and dangerous offenses – South Florida, Western Michigan, Kentucky and Cal were the top four, Louisville and Houston were six and seven in terms of conversion percentage. New Mexico converted 14-of-19 fourth down plays, and considering it’s a throw-it-all-out-there bowl game – the Lobos went for it three times in last year’s bowl – it’s going to keep the pressure on UTSA’s defensive front.

You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Frank Wilson isn’t going to earn national Coach of the Year honors, but he should be in the team photo. UTSA was miserable last season with now offense, little defense, and just three wins on the year. This year’s team – thanks to the first-year head man – has shown the scoring punch, the toughness, and the upside to turn this season into a stepping-stone for the program.

All of a sudden, Bob Davie has New Mexico humming. It took three years to get there, but the Lobos got through the first recruiting cycle under Davie, and it showed last year as the pieces were in place to run the attack the way he wanted it. Now, with a win, the Lobos will come up with a nine-win season after winning 11 in the first three seasons. The running game always worked, but now his teams are playing some D.

The New Mexico Bowl has been terrific at times, with three close games over the last four years. It’s the kickoff to the bowl season, and it should be a good one if UTSA can get its defense off the field in the first half. If New Mexico owns third downs with its running game, there will be an easy pivot to the Las Vegas Bowl – San Diego State vs. Houston – starting 90 minutes after this gets rolling.

Super. So Who’s Going To Win The Gildan New Mexico Bowl?

UTSA is better than you think. It’ll show enough balance, and enough defensive toughness, and come up with enough third down stops to keep this close. But the Lobos will hit on a few big pass plays in the second half to open it up, and the running game will take control in the second half to pull away.

Final Score

New Mexico 34, UTSA 21

Line

New Mexico -7, o/u: 62.5

ATS Confidence: 3.5
5: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score in your favorite bar
0: Your New Year’s Eve chances to score after covering a College Football Playoff semifinal

Must See Rating: 2.5
5: New Year’s Eve: Defected In The House, Ministry of Sound, London
0: New Year’s Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Special Co-Host Kathy Griffin

Get Tickets For The Gildan New Mexico Bowl

New Mexico Bowl History, Results

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