WHO: Utah State (6-6) vs. New Mexico State (6-6)
WHAT: The third Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network
WHERE: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
THE SKINNY: New Mexico State has not played in a bowl game since 1960, but winning their final two games of the regular season allowed the Aggies that elusive opportunity to play in a bowl game in their final game representing the Sun Belt Conference. So, how did they get here?
It began by giving Arizona State a serious run in the opener and building confidence the following week against New Mexico. With wins in three of their final four games, quarterback Tyler Rogers and 1,000-yard receiver Jaleel Scott helped achieve the long-thought impossible by reaching six wins. It has been a long work in progress for head coach Doug Martin, who has guided New Mexico State into the Sun Belt Conference after a year left astray following conference realignment and the implosion of the old WAC. Now, with the future seeing New Mexico State return to independence, the Aggies hope their improving offense can keep up the momentum against Utah State.
Utah State had a bumpy season with a good handful of lopsided losses, but Matt Wells has managed to keep these Aggies chugging forward. The past few seasons have been rough at times for Utah State, but a chance to hit seven wins and build some momentum for the offseason is one Utah State can take advantage of. It will start up front with the offensive line providing some good blocking. Linemen Roman Andrus and Quin Ficklin received honorable mentions from the MWC this season, but they will need a good showing from redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Love (1,377 passing yards, 8 TDs) and running back LaJuan Hunt to end the season on a high note. Love has been building confidence this season, and the extra time to prepare for this game may bode well for him and Utah State.
THE PICK: Utah State 24, New Mexico State 17