Three reasons why you should watch the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.
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NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
New Mexico State (6-6) vs. Utah State (6-6)
Date: Friday, December 29th
Game Time: 5:30 pm
Venue: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ
Network: CBS Sports Network
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The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness
(1 best-39 worst): 28 out of 39
Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
– 1960. That’s the last time New Mexico State played in a bowl game. It’s the last game as a Sun Belt team – the program is going into the world of the independents next year – and it’s a really, really big deal to be going bowing. In its history, NMSU tied Hardin-Simmons in the 1936 Sun, beat North Texas in the 1959 Sun, and took down, ironically, Utah State in the 1960 Sun.
– This is a big deal for Utah State, too. The team had to fight, scratch and claw to get to six wins and a bowl game. This is just the 12th bowl game in the program’s history and the first time back since losing the 2015 Famous Idaho Potato to Akron. Head coach Matt Wells will have this team fired up.
– Utah State won two of its last three games, New Mexico State won three of its last four, taking down South Alabama in the regular season finale to get here. These two were playing well late, and now they need to play like it. They will.
Here’s Why New Mexico State Will Win The NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
– Arkansas State, Appalachian State, Troy. All three Sun Belt stars were great this year, and none of them led the league in third down conversions. Ultra-efficient, the Aggies are amazing at keeping the chains moving converting at a 47% clip. They were over 50% in seven times on the year.
– The defense? It led the Sun Belt in third down stops. Mostly a rumor throughout the last bazillion years, the NMSU defense was great at getting off the field, allowing offenses to convert just 31.5% of their chances. Only Troy and Arkansas got past the 40% mark. Utah State is 92nd in the nation in third down conversions.
– Get ready for the Tyler Rogers show. The veteran bomber was the reason NMSU was fourth in the nation in passing, throwing for 3,825 yards and 26 touchdowns despite missing a game. When he’s in one piece, assume 300 passing yards, even against a fantastic Utah State secondary.
Here’s Why Utah State Will Win The NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
– Utah State’s run defense has been a problem. There’s no issue against the other Aggies. Even with Larry Rose III, New Mexico State doesn’t run the ball a lick – it’s all about the passing attack. CB Jalen Davis and the Utah State secondary are good enough to generate at least two picks.
– The Aggie D is freakishly great at forcing fumbles. One of the best teams in the nation at getting on the ball, Utah State has recovered 15 fumbles on the season with four against both New Mexico and San Jose State, and three against BYU. NMSU might not fumble a lot, but it’s given up 20 picks.
– Utah State has to get LaJuan Hunt going early. The lightning quick back has to hit the 100-yard mark, doing it in two of the last three games, winning them both. Dangerous, he scored at least once in each of the last five games. The team is 3-0 when he runs for 100 yards; NMSU will give up a big play here and there.
You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
– It’s only a four hour straight shot west for NMSU fans. This isn’t exactly going to be a home game for the Sun Belt Aggies, but if the base isn’t going to be fired up and excited about this trip, when will it be?
– Utah State has to do something funky in the third phase. The special teams are great at blocking kicks and punts, the special teams have playmakers, and the return game is fantastic. The New Mexico State special teams have too many meltdowns.
– This should be a well-paced game. Neither one cares about the time of possession – NMSU keeps the ball for just over 28 minutes a game, and Utah State usually has it for around 26 minutes. Both offenses will keep this moving.
Super. So Who’s Going To Win The NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl?
You think New Mexico State is going to go this long without a bowl appearance and blow it now?
The key will be interceptions – those Aggies can’t throw them to the other Aggies. Rogers will be good, but watch out for Larry Rose III – NMSU’s other big weapon.
After four years of toiling, this is his payoff, and he should be rested and ready for a 100-yard game against a porous Utah State run defense, Rogers will hit his third down throws, and NMSU will take advantage of the opportunity.
New Mexico State 34, Utah State 30
– More Bowl Info & Get Tickets
Utah State -4, o/u: 61.5
ATS Confidence: 3
5: Being in the bar already
0: Watching ball drop … and then trying to get into the bar
Must See Rating: 3
5: New Year’s Eve: Ministry of Sound, Defected London NYE
0: New Year’s Eve with Maroon 5, Las Vegas
NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl History, Results
Dec. 30, 2016 Air Force 45, South Alabama 21
Dec. 29, 2015 Nevada 28 Colorado State 23