The Utah State Aggies scored 38 first-half points and cruised to a 52-13 victory Saturday over the North Texas Mean Green in the 2018 New Mexico Bowl at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Utah State (11-2) racked up 556 total yards and forced four turnovers en route to closing out its 2018 season in dominant fashion. Quarterback Jordan Love led the way with 359 passing yards and four touchdowns. He also added a rushing score.
North Texas (9-4) lost starting quarterback Mason Fine to a hamstring injury and couldn't recover with backups Quinn Shanbour and Jason Bean throwing four combined interceptions.
Quick strikes were the key for Utah State in the first quarter.
The Aggies got on the scoreboard just 40 seconds into the contest on a 72-yard touchdown pass from Love to Aaren Vaughns. After the Mean Green leveled the game on a DeAndre Torrey TD run late in the period, USU responded by striking back 53 seconds later on a Gerold Bright score to regain the lead.
Utah State found another gear in the second quarter. It scored 24 unanswered points to build a sizable halftime lead thanks to big plays on offense and Fine being hobbled and then removed from the contest with his hamstring injury, severely limiting the North Texas offense.
Vaughns' second touchdown of the day was a thing of beauty during that scoring binge:
North Texas started the second half in ideal fashion for a comeback bid with a 75-yard pitch-and-catch from Kason Martin, the team's fourth QB of the day, to Jalen Guyton on the first play from scrimmage:
The Mean Green couldn't pull off a miracle in Albuquerque, though.
Utah State continued to amplify its defensive pressure and shifted to a more run-oriented offense to drain the clock and earn its first bowl win since 2014.
Full credit goes to interim head coach Frank Maile, who took over the Aggies following Matt Wells' acceptance of the Texas Tech Red Raiders' job last month and made sure the team didn't miss a beat.
The 39-point win is the largest in New Mexico Bowl history.
The Aggies' biggest area of concern looking toward 2019 will be wide receiver. Their top three wideouts from this season—Ron'quavion Tarver, Jalen Greene and Vaughns—were all seniors, which will leave a major void on the outside.
North Texas' performance Saturday shouldn't overshadow a strong season that didn't feature a loss by more than a single score throughout the regular season. The Mean Green should once again be a title contender in Conference USA with Fine at the helm next year.