The first game New Mexico Head Coach Mike Locksley will see inside University Stadium will not be a game played by his Lobos. But instead it will be the 3rd annual New Mexico Bowl between the Colorado State Rams(6-6) and the Fresno State Bulldogs(7-5). It will also be the first time New Mexico will not not play in the bowl game that bears its name.
First of all the Rams of Colorado State are playing in their first bowl game since 2005 and they haven't won a bowl game in their last three attempts. The last one they won was the 2001 New Orleans Bowl.
The Rams are coming off two straight wins over New Mexico and Wyoming but it hasn't been that simple this year for the Rams. They faced a tough schedule with loses to Colorado, California, TCU, Utah, BYU and Air Force. Those teams have a combined record of 53-19 and five of the six are in bowl games.
Colorado State does have one intriguing win on their schedule. That was their 28-25 win over the Houston Cougars who are playing in the Armed Forces Bowl versus Air Force.
As for the Fresno State Bulldogs, they are coming off a 61-10 loss at the hands of Boise State and enter the New Mexico Bowl having won four out of their last five bowl games. The regular season for Fresno State had its ups as well as its downs. The Bulldogs had two good wins early in the year against Rutgers and UCLA both of which were were away from Fresno, California.
In this game neither team will have a clear home field advantage but their will be several factors that will affect the outcome of the 2008 New Mexico Bowl. First of all, Colorado State will depend on Senior Running Back Gatrell Johnson who has 1191 yards and 10 TD's rushing this season.
Another factor favoring the Rams is that Johnson has never fumbled in his college career which could pay dividends against a vulnerable Bulldog defense. Another factor that favors that Rams is that Quarterback Billy Farris has the ability to pick apart defense and have a field day as he has eight games of 235 or more yards passing.
As for Fresno State they are led by Quarterback Tom Brandstater who has 2478 yards passing and 17 TD's on the year and like Farris he has the ability to go nuts against opposing defenses. Brandstater has six games of 225 of more passing yards and he has two games with four TD passes. The Bulldogs will heavily rely on Brandstater's arm to win them this game because their leading rusher Anthony Harding has only 702 yards and five TD's
In the end the New Mexico Bowl will depend on the defenses. If the Rams can shut down Brandstater than they will win. But if Brandstater can make plays and get the ball to his receivers they will make it game. In the end the New Mexico Bowl will be won by the best defense and that belongs to the Colorado State Rams.
Final Prediction: Gantrell Johnson controls the game on the ground in the first half and the Rams defense will take care of business in the second half.
Final Score: Colorado State 27, Fresno State 21