Gildan New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico Lobos vs. Texas San Antonio Roadrunners
Date: Dec. 17, 2 p.m. ET on ESPN
Location: University Stadium | Albuquerque, New Mexico
Best moment: Wyoming had a chance to lock up the Mountain Division all to itself in the regular-season finale, but the Lobos delivered a resounding 56-35 knockout blow. Three players -- Teriyon Gipson (217 yards), Lamar Jordan (176) and Richard McQuarley (121) -- all ran for over 100 yards in the victory.
Lowest moment: It’s never good for New Mexico to lose to New Mexico State, and this year was especially bad considering how both teams played the rest of the year (NMSU won three games total). The Lobos also lost to Rutgers, which was 0-9 and outscored 360-86 the rest of the season.
Key player: Running back Tyrone Owens or Gipson, take your pick. Both running backs have rushed for more than 1,000 yards this year, both average over 8 yards per carry and both have scored on touchdown runs longer than 80 yards. They present the best 1-2 punch most of the country probably hasn’t heard about.
Motivation level: New Mexico has won exactly one bowl game since 1961, so, yes, this is a big deal for the Lobos. They’re also trying to reach the nine-win mark for just the fifth time in the program’s 85-year history, which would be another historic achievement. -- Kyle Bonagura
Best moment: Becoming bowl eligible for the first time in the history of the program by beating Charlotte, 33-14, to end the regular season. First-year head coach Frank Wilson has taken this team a long way in a short period of time and was carried off the field by his players after the victory. “Today,” he said, “all the hard work was vindicated.”
Lowest moment: UTSA’s toughest loss of 2016 might’ve been coming up just short in five overtimes against UTEP, a 52-49 loss in the longest game in Conference USA history. The Roadrunners missed a game-winning field goal attempt in the fourth overtime and another kick late in the fourth quarter that could’ve put it away against a UTEP team that went 4-8.
Key player: This bowl will be a proper send-off for senior Jarveon Williams, who’ll leave as the all-time leading rusher in school history. The running back duo of Williams and Jalen Rhodes has combined for 1,883 total yards and 18 touchdowns this season.
Motivation level: High. Winning the first bowl game in the history of UTSA football would be a big deal for Wilson, the former LSU assistant who took a big chance on this program after Larry Coker retired. Wilson and his players have a chance to take a big step forward with this bowl. -- Max Olson