Utah State put the finishing touches on a double-digit-win season by defeating UTEP 21-6 in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl on Saturday at University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Let's take a glance at how it went down:
How the game was won: Utah State won this game with its defense. The Aggies held UTEP to 275 total offensive yards and held sophomore UTEP running back Aaron Jones to just 88 yards and 3.5 yards per carry. Jones was averaging 112 rushing yards per game coming into the bowl. The Aggies were fantastic on third downs -- UTEP converted only five of 20 chances -- and held UTEP to just 3.9 yards per play. Zach Vigil and Nick Vigil combined for 16 tackles, and Brian Suite led the team with 10.
Game ball goes to: True freshman quarterback Kent Myers. The Aggies' fourth quarterback this season guided Utah State to a 5-1 mark in his time as a starter. He started the game with a nice touchdown run, and though he was knocked out briefly after taking a big hit, he returned to direct the Aggies to 14 more points. He finished with 70 rushing yards and a touchdown, and 68 passing yards.
What it means: The Aggies, who were making their fourth consecutive bowl appearance, won their third straight bowl game. More importantly, Utah State secured the second 10-win season in school history (the first came in 2012). A tip of the cap to coach Matt Wells and the job he did this season, as this team had to survive the loss of three quarterbacks to season-ending injuries and navigate the season's home stretch with Myers. Even when Myers was knocked out briefly Saturday after a sack (shown below), Ronald Butler came in and broke off a 61-yard run to get the Aggies in field goal range before the half.
Best play: Utah State's first touchdown was an impressive one, with good play design and great execution. The Aggies had three receivers to the right side of the formation, motioned a running back in that direction and Myers made a quick fake in that direction, sending a pack of UTEP defenders to the wide side of the field. Myers kept the ball, sprinted upfield, made a nice move to make a defender miss, and sprinted 48 yards for a touchdown to give Utah State a lead it would never relinquish.