New Mexico Bowl 2021: Odds, Daily Fantasy Tips for UTEP vs. Fresno State

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 17, 2021

Fresno State running back Ronnie Rivers tries to get past New Mexico cornerback Tony Collier, far left, gives chase during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Fresno, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)
Gary Kazanjian/Associated Press

The New Mexico Bowl holds one of the biggest unknowns of the college football bowl season.

As of Friday morning, there was no clarification whether Fresno State Bulldogs quarterback Jake Haener would play in Saturday's clash against the UTEP Miners.

Haener entered the transfer portal but then opted to return to Fresno State for the 2022 season after Jeff Tedford was named as the replacement for former head coach Kalen DeBoer, who departed for Washington.

Fresno State interim head coach Lee Marks said that the team would not reveal who would start against UTEP before kickoff, per 247Sports' Jackson Moore: "We are going to keep everything in-house of how we are going to handle those things right now."

If Haener plays, the Bulldogs have the potential to blow out UTEP, but the margins get tighter if the one of the best Group of Five quarterbacks is out.


New Mexico Bowl Info

Date: Saturday, December 18

Start Time: 2:15 p.m. ET


Live Stream: ESPN.com and ESPN app


New Mexico Bowl Odds

Spread: Fresno State (-11.5) 

Over/Under: 52

Moneyline: Fresno State -490 (bet $490 to win $100); UTEP +360 (bet $100 to win $360)


Daily Fantasy Tips

Look to Fresno State's Offense First 

Fresno State is by far the better team in the New Mexico Bowl.

The Bulldogs went 9-3 with wins over the San Diego State Aztecs and UCLA Bruins and a seven-point loss to the Oregon Ducks. Fresno State closed the regular season with five wins in six games behind the combination of Jake Haener and running back Ronnie Rivers.

Rivers is a lock to play Saturday, and he might be the best daily fantasy option in the game. He is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 10.7 yards per catch after producing 1,152 total yards and seven scores on 195 touches this season.

If Haener does not play, the Bulldogs will use a heavy dose of Rivers to wear down the Miners defense. That might still be the case if the No. 1 quarterback plays. Fresno State's leading rusher had at least 65 yards in each of its past seven games.

The Bulldogs are facing a UTEP team that peaked way too early in the season. The Miners started with a 6-1 record and then won a single game after October 16. UTEP's defense conceded 28 or more points in three of its past four defeats.

Rivers is expected to tear apart the UTEP defense, and if Haener is in there, you should consider wide receivers Jalen Cropper or Josh Kelly to pair with the Fresno State quarterback.


Go For UTEP's Jacob Cowing

Jacob Cowing has been the lone bright spot for UTEP during its losing run.

The wide receiver produced back-to-back 170-yard games against the North Texas Mean Green and Rice Owls in November.

Cowing has seven 100-yard outings this season and a receiving touchdown in each of his past three games, so he will be the top target for Miners quarterback Gavin Hardison.

The sophomore is the most reliable player in the UTEP offense, and he could be an under-the-radar find for DFS lineups on Saturday's six-game bowl slate.

The UTEP wideout ranks sixth in the FBS in receiving yards and 11th in yards per catch. He could be a great DFS partner at wide receiver for Western Kentucky's Jerreth Sterns, who leads the FBS in receptions and receiving yards and plays in Saturday's opener.


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