New Mexico State hasn’t played in a bowl game in nearly six decades, and are in a position to potentially end that drought. Maybe.
Sitting at 4-5 heading into Week 12, NMSU needs wins in two of its last three games to become bowl-eligible. With games against Louisiana (4-5), Idaho (3-6) and South Alabama (4-6) — the latter two at home — it’s certainly doable.
However, even if the Aggies do reach the requisite six wins, they may be forced to turn down an invitation because of financial considerations.
“If you stick us too far out east, then it becomes a financial issue with our fans,” NMSU chancellor and president Garrey Carruthers told the NBC affiliate in El Paso this week. “If you’re obligated to buy X number of tickets and we can’t sell them to our fans, then it would become a costly enterprise.”
Each school that qualifies for a bowl game is required to purchase an allotment of tickets, and then in turn sells them to fans traveling to the game. Any unsold tickets can’t be returned to the bowl, forcing the school to eat the costs. Add in the travel costs associated with it, and playing in a bowl game in, say, Florida o even Alabama, would be financially prohibitive for a Group of Five program like NMSU.
Fortunately for the Aggies, most bowl projections have them playing in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, with Tucson serving as just a 300-mile or so road trip from El Paso. A smattering also has them playing in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
NMSU hasn’t played in a postseason game since the 1960 Sun Bowl. In fact, all three of their postseason appearances were in the same game.