New Mexico State pulled out its first bowl win in 57 years in thrilling overtime fashion over Utah State. Here are five things that matter.
2017 Arizona Bowl: NMSU 26, Utah State 20 OT
5. Oh, so NOW comes an amazing overtime finish this bowl season
It might have been the best finish of the entire bowl season – and a bad bowl season at that – but most of America was tuned into to the end of the Northwestern thriller over Kentucky in the Music City, or the start of the Ohio State-USC Cotton Bowl.
It’s been the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl’s biggest issue – timing.
It’s shoehorned in the midst of a slew of other bowls, and it’s been lost in the shuffle. The games have been entertaining, the teams have battled hard, and as this game showed, it’s possible to have something amazing out of teams most wouldn’t normally watch.
4. Nothing against Utah State, but …
Good for you, New Mexico State.
Treated like garbage, kicked out of the Sun Belt, and unwanted and unloved, New Mexico State needed a big moment. The long-suffering fans have had to sit through SO many bad football games, that they were way due for something special. And they got it.
That they got their bowl win after 57 years in this sort of way makes it even more amazing, especially considering it was closed out be …
3. Larry Rose III
Tyler Rogers and the passing game might have been able to step up and rock throughout the season, but over the last few years, it was Larry Rose III who was the dangerous, playmaking star who carried the team.
With 16 carries for 132 yards and a game-winning touchdown, and with six catches for 48 yards, he got to close out his fantastic career on the highest of notes. Now he gets to go into New Mexico State football lore as the guy who ran for the bowl touchdown.
He earned the moment.
2. Dominik Eberle
You sign up for it when you decide to become a kicker, but what happened for Utah State’s Dominik Eberle isn’t fair.
He’s not just a good kicker; he’s one of the best in the Mountain West. He helped the Aggies time and again this season, nailing 16 of his 18 field goal tries, but he missed four attempts including one in overtime.
It wouldn’t have mattered if he made the 29-yarder in the extra frame – New Mexico State won in OT on a touchdown run – but it was still awful for the sophomore.
1. New Mexico State football
New Mexico State hadn’t come up with a winning season since 2002.
It hadn’t even won more than four games in a season since then.
It’s been impossible to win at NMSU, with no defense, not enough offense, and in the end, not enough to keep the Sun Belt interested. But this was the year when head coach Doug Martin had the experience, the talent, and the upside to come up with a strong season. Just getting to this game was special, but winning it was the icing on the cake.
Winning didn’t just give the program a bowl title, it gave it a winning season. After taking down three of the last four games just to get here, it showed the resolve to come through and get the job done.
Every football program deserves to have a little fun.