LOGAN, Utah – Utah State football will face North Texas in the 13th-annual New Mexico Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 15, at noon (MT) at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M., it was announced Sunday. The game will be televised live on ESPN.
For Utah State, this will be its second appearance in the New Mexico Bowl as it posted a 21-6 win against UTEP in 2014. Only New Mexico (4) and Colorado State (3) have made more appearances in the Albuquerque-based bowl than USU (2). Other teams who have played multiple games in the New Mexico Bowl include Arizona, Fresno State, Nevada, UTEP and Wyoming.
Utah State and North Texas will be meeting for the eighth time in series history as USU holds a 4-3 advantage. USU posted a 4-1 record against UNT when both teams were members of the Big West Conference from 1996-2000 and USU went 0-2 against the Mean Green when both programs were members of the Sun Belt Conference from 2003-04.
“On behalf of Utah State University, we are thrilled to represent the Mountain West against an outstanding opponent in the 2018 New Mexico Bowl, said USU Vice President and Director of Athletics John Hartwell. “I’m excited for our student-athletes to experience another bowl game and we look forward to the hospitality of Albuquerque.”
For Utah State, this will be its seventh bowl game in the past eight seasons and its 13th in program history as the Aggies are 4-8 all-time in bowl games.
Utah State will be facing a Conference USA team in a bowl game for the second time as its last appearance in the New Mexico Bowl in 2014 was against Conference USA member UTEP, a game USU won 21-6.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our program. It is a fantastic reward for all of the hard work and dedication that our players have put in, from all the offseason workouts, to watching film to the practice field. I am so happy for them,” said Utah State interim head coach Frank Maile. “We are excited to represent Utah State University, Cache Valley and Aggie Nation at the New Mexico Bowl.”
All-time, this will be Utah State’s 13th bowl appearance in program history as it played in the 1946 Raisin Bowl, the 1947 Grape Bowl, the 1960 Sun Bowl, the 1961 Gotham Bowl, the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl, the 1997 Humanitarian Bowl, the 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, the 2013 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, the 2014 Gildan New Mexico Bowl, the 2015 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the 2017 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.
North Texas is 9-3 on the season and finished second in the West Division of Conference USA with a 5-3 record. The Mean Green enter the bowl game on a two-game winning streak after posting a 41-38 home win against Florida Atlantic and a 24-21 road win at UTSA. There were no common opponents between North Texas and Utah State this season.
This will be North Texas’ third-straight bowl game and the Mean Green are 3-7 all-time in their 10 bowl game appearances. UNT has dropped each of its last two bowl games as it lost 50-30 to Troy in the 2017 New Orleans Bowl and lost 38-31 to Army in the 2016 Heart of Dallas Bowl. The Mean Green’s last bowl win was in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against UNLV in 2013 by a final score of 36-14. This will be North Texas’ first-ever appearance in the New Mexico Bowl.
Utah State, which is ranked No. 23 in this week’s Amway Coaches poll, is 10-2 on the season and tied for first place in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West with a 7-1 record following its 33-24 conference road loss at No. 21 Boise State two weekends ago. Offensively, USU is led by sophomore QB Jordan Love, who is 246-of-374 (.658) passing for 3,208 yards (267.3 ypg) with 28 touchdowns and five interceptions. Junior RB Darwin Thompson leads the team in rushing with 951 yards on 132 carries (7.2 ypc/79.2 ypg) with 14 touchdowns, and senior WR Ron’quavion Tarver has a team-best 62 receptions for 676 yards (10.9 ypr/56.3 ypg) with seven touchdowns. Defensively, sophomore LB David Woodward leads the team with 124 tackles, which includes 5.0 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss, while senior LB Chase Christiansen has 92 tackles, which includes 0.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. As a team, Utah State is averaging 47.2 points and 492.5 yards of total offense (288.8 passing, 203.7 rushing), and allowing 23.0 points and 385.0 yards of total offense (240.1 passing, 144.9 rushing).
Love was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week a school-record five times during the 2018 season and set the single-season school record with 28 touchdowns passes this year. Eberle was named the MW Special Teams Player of the Week twice this year and Thompson won the league’s Offensive Player of the Week honors once.
Utah State’s 10-1 start to the 2018 season is the best in school history, topping Merln Olsen’s 1961 team that finished with a 9-1-1 record. USU also won 10 straight games for the first time in school history this season, topping Olsen’s 1960 team that won its first nine games. Overall, USU’s 10 wins this year are tied with the 2014 New Mexico Bowl championship team for the second-most in school history, and this is just the third time ever that USU has won 10 or more games, along with the 2012 team that finished with a school-best 11-2 record.
Utah State has already set school records this season with its 72 touchdowns and 566 points scored, bettering the previous marks of 60 touchdowns in 2011 and 454 points scored in 2012. The Mountain West record for points scored in a season is 608 by BYU in 2001.
Utah State ranks among the top 20 teams in the nation in 19 statistical categories and leads the nation in three of those, including scoring drives under one minute (24), kickoff returns (29.68 yards per return) and passes intercepted (18). USU is also second in the nation in non-offensive touchdowns (10) and defensive touchdowns (6), third in scoring (47.2 points per game), turnovers forced (28), sacks allowed (0.75 per game), three-and-outs forced (5.58 per game) and average margin of victory (24.2 points per game), eighth in turnover margin (+0.92), ninth in winning percentage (.833), 10th in passes had intercepted (5), 11th in total offense (492.5 yards per game), 13th in team passing efficiency (155.34) and fourth down conversion percentage (.667), 17th in tackles for loss allowed (4.58 per game), 18th in passing offense (288.8 yards per game) and 19th in third down conversion percentage (.457).
Utah State ranked first in the Mountain West in all-conference honorees in 2018 as it had eight offensive players, eight defensive players and two specialists recognized for a total of 18 all-conference awards. USU players to earn first-team all-Mountain West honors included senior offensive center Quin Ficklin and sophomore return specialist Savon Scarver, while senior offensive lineman Roman Andrus, redshirt junior linebacker Tipa Galeai, sophomore quarterback Jordan Love, senior safety Jontrell Rocquemore, junior running back Darwin Thompson and sophomore linebacker David Woodward were all named to the second team. Aggies who earned honorable mention all-league honors included senior defensive end Adewale Adeoye, senior offensive lineman Rob Castaneda, junior placekicker Dominik Eberle, senior safety Gaje Ferguson, redshirt junior defensive end Fua Leilua, junior tight end Dax Raymond, senior wide receiver Ron’quavion Tarver, senior offensive lineman Sean Taylor, junior nose guard Christopher ‘Unga and junior cornerback DJ Williams.
Tickets for the 2018 New Mexico Bowl will go on sale Monday, Dec. 3 and are available by contacting the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, or by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305. Tickets can also be purchased 24 hours a day at www.UtahStateAggies.com.
To receive more information on tickets, fans can sign up to receive information at the following site: http://utahstateaggies.com/bowlinfo18
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on facebook at Utah State Football, as well as on instagram at instagram.com/USUFootball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics, on facebook at Utah State University Athletics or on instagram at instagram.com/USUAthletics.
Utah State Football Bowl History (4-8)
1946 Raisin Bowl vs. San Jose State – L, 0-20 (Fresno, Calif.)
1947 Grape Bowl vs. Pacific – L, 21-35 (Lodi, Calif.)
1960 Sun Bowl vs. New Mexico State – L, 13-20 (El Paso, Texas)
1961 Gotham Bowl vs. Baylor – L, 9-24 (New York City)
1993 Las Vegas Bowl vs. Ball State – W, 42-33 (Las Vegas, Nev.)
1997 Humanitarian Bowl vs. Cincinnati – L, 19-35 (Boise, Idaho)
2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl vs. Ohio – L, 23-24 (Boise, Idaho)
2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl vs. Toledo – W, 41-15 (Boise, Idaho)
2013 SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl vs. No. 24 Northern Illinois – W, 21-14 (San Diego, Calif.)
2014 Gildan New Mexico Bowl vs. UTEP – W, 21-6 (Albuquerque, N.M.)
2015 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl vs. Akron – L, 21-23 (Boise, Idaho)
2017 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl vs. New Mexico State – L, 20-26, OT (Tucson, Ariz.)
Utah State vs. Conference USA (14-15)
Louisiana Tech – 4-6 (Last Meeting, 2012)
Middle Tennessee – 1-2 (Last Meeting, 2004)
North Texas – 4-3 (Last Meeting, 2004)
Southern Mississippi – 1-4 (Last Meeting, 1996)
UTEP – 3-0 (Last Meeting, 2014)
UTSA – 1-0 (Last Meeting, 2012)
(Have not played: UAB, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Marshall, Old Dominion, Rice, Western Kentucky)
Gildan New Mexico Bowl History
Dec. 23, 2006 – San José State (WAC) 20, New Mexico (MW) 12
Dec. 22, 2007 – New Mexico (MW) 23, Nevada (WAC) 0
Dec. 20, 2008 – Colorado State (MW) 40, Fresno State (WAC) 35
Dec. 19, 2009 – Wyoming (MW) 35, Fresno State (WAC) 28 (2OT)
Dec. 18, 2010 – BYU (MW) 52, UTEP (Conference USA) 24
Dec. 17, 2011 – Temple (MAC) 37, Wyoming (MW) 15
Dec. 15, 2012 – Arizona (Pac-12) 49, Nevada (MW) 48
Dec. 21, 2013 – Colorado State (MW) 48, Washington State (Pac-12) 45
Dec. 20, 2014 – Utah State (MW) 21, UTEP (Conference USA) 6
Dec. 19, 2015 – Arizona (Pac-12) 45, New Mexico (MW) 37
Dec. 17, 2016 – New Mexico (MW) 23, UTSA (Conference USA) 20
Dec. 16, 2017 – Marshall (Conference USA) 31, Colorado State (MW) 28