The head coaches for Fresno State and Texas-El Paso both say they are happy to be playing at the New Mexico Bowl.
“The excitement in the program right now is electric,” Fresno State interim coach Lee Marks said on Monday. “We’re extremely appreciative to be in this position.”
“It’s a celebration of the season and an opportunity for us to do something really special as a football team that hasn’t been done around here in a long time,” 600 ESPN El Paso’s Adrian Broaddus reported UTEP head coach Dana Dimel telling the El Paso media a few weeks ago.
Such is the saturation of “Bowl Season” which kicks off 42 games Friday afternoon with the Bahamas Bowl.
Saturday Morning Kickoff
On Saturday morning, the Bulldogs take to the field in Albuquerque to face UTEP in one of seven televised bowl games on that day.
Former Bulldog head coach Pat Hill used to justify playing in such marginal games, saying at least they have the college football television window to themselves.
The New Mexico Bowl should have that exclusive window for about 75 minutes, with an 11:15 a.m. (PT) kickoff.
QB a Mystery, Offense is Not
While Marks won’t reveal his starting quarterback — Jake Haener or freshmen Jaylen Henderson or Logan Fife — until game time, the remainder of the offense is no mystery.
The running game will consist of Ronnie Rivers and Jordan Mims; Jalen Cropper, Josh Kelly and Keric Wheatfall will be the main wide receivers.
The Bulldogs led the Mountain West conference with 436 yard per game on offense.
About the Miners
The Miners started the season 6-1, including four straight. They limped to the finish, losing four of the last five since. Perhaps the most impressive victory was a 28-21 fourth-quarter comeback against bowl-bound Old Dominion.
The most dynamic player in the Miners offense is wide receiver Jacob Cowing, an all-Conference USA selection. He ranked sixth in the nation with 1,330 receiving yards.
He will be catching passes from quarterback Gavin Hardison a 56% passer, with 2,966 yards and 17 TD.
UTEP finished fourth in the Conference USA west division. They haven’t won a bowl game since 1967. At least Miners fans will have an easier time traveling to the bowl game. El Paso is only four hours south of Albuquerque.
Game: Fresno State (9-3) vs. UTEP (7-5) in the New Mexico Bowl
Location: University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
Date/time: Saturday, December 18 at 11:15 a.m. (Pacific Time)
TV Network: ESPN
Weather: Cold but dry. The forecast predicts 46 degrees for Saturday, but no rain nor snow.
Announcers: John Schriffen & Rene Ingoglia; sideline: Stormy Buonantony
Local radio: 1430 AM Fox Sports Radio: Paul Loeffler & Pat Hill; sideline: Cam Worrell