New Mexico, UTSA bring contrasting styles into bowl
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) New Mexico (8-4, 6-2 Mountain West) vs. UTSA (6-6, 5-3 Conference USA), 2 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Line: New Mexico by 7 1/2
Series Record: Split 1-1
WHAT'S AT STAKE
UTSA is making its first bowl appearance in its program's brief history. The Roadrunners football program was launched only six years ago and the team won five of its last eight to finish second in Conference USA's West Division under first-year coach Frank Wilson. New Mexico is 3-8-1 in bowl games and returns to the New Mexico Bowl for the second straight year. The Lobos' back-to-back postseason appearances come after years of turmoil on and off the field.
UTSA's pro-style offense versus New Mexico's triple-option threat. The Roadrunners are led by quarterback Dalton Sturm, who threw for 2,052 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. UTSA also has depth among its speedy receiving corps. The Lobos lead the nation in rushing yards per game with 360.9 and racked up 4,331 rushing yards, the most in school history. New Mexico has two running backs with 1,000 rushing yards each and rarely turns the ball over.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
UTSA: Junior wide receiver Josh Stewart leads the Roadrunners with 36 receptions for the school's single-season record of 682 receiving yards. Defensive lineman Marcus Davenport has anchored the UTSA defense with 6.5 sacks and 62 tackles, 10 for a loss.
New Mexico: Running back Teriyon Gipson has 131 carries for 1,209 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 9.23 yards per carry average leads the FBS. Fellow running back Tyrone Owens is second with 1,084 rushing yards. Both led the Mountain West in rushing yards.
FACTS & FIGURES
Six years ago, New Mexico's football program was in dire straits and UTSA was just starting its program. Before New Mexico offered former Notre Dame head coach Bob Davie the Lobos coaching job, UTSA's Lynn Hickey reached out to him for advice on building the Roadrunners program. ... UTSA won seven games back in 2013 but the team was in its final year of reclassifying to the FBS and not eligible to play in the postseason. ... New Mexico's Jason Sanders is currently the national leader in touchbacks and has made 81 extra points in a row. ... High temperatures are expected to hover around the mid-40s with a 20 percent chance of precipitation. Players could see 25 mph gusts. ...The Roadrunner, UTSA's mascot, is the state of New Mexico's official bird.
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