Bowl season finally gets underway on Saturday with the New Mexico Bowl, where the Arizona Wildcats are a 10-point favorite over the New Mexico Lobos. This is a game in which there’s actually a home team playing in its own stadium.
New Mexico made a bowl game this season for the first time in several years as coach Bob Davie, who had guided Notre Dame to a Fiesta Bowl appearance over a decade ago, came out of a college football booth and revived the New Mexico program.
The Lobos came so far this season that they were able to beat Mountain West runner-up and Mountain division champion Air Force as well as defending champion Boise State on the road. New Mexico was able to win some games with its offense and other games with its defense, showing a level of balance and diversity which marks an improved program.
Next up on the schedule will be a matchup of rivals as the BYU Cougars and Utah Utes battle in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. It’s an interesting showdown as BYU will be coached for the last time by Bronco Mendenhall, who will be leaving for the Virginia job. The Utes, who were at one point in the Top 5 this season, are a 2.5-point favorite in this spot.
Ohio and Appalachian State will clash in the Camellia Bowl, where the Mountaineers are a 7.5-point favorite. The formerly dominant FCS program is now dominating the Sun Belt (winning 10 games this season) and is making their first bowl game appearance.
Frank Solich’s Ohio squad will have their hands full with a very balanced Appalachian State side that has the sixth-best run defense and the 12th-best defense overall.
San Jose State and Georgia State meet up in the Cure Bowl, which presents an interesting showdown of offense versus defense. Georgia State hit the 299-yard passing mark in all but one game this season. They’re up against the No. 2 pass defense, though, and a Spartans defense that’s tough as nails. The Spartans are a three-point favorite and the total sits at 56.
The last game of the day will be the New Orleans Bowl where Louisiana Tech will face Arkansas State. The Bulldogs are a two-point favorite.
On the surface Louisiana Tech has an edge with a quarterback that has experience at a higher level of competition. Jeff Driskel used to play for the University of Florida and he’s even played in another bowl game, the Sugar Bowl. He threw for 3,575 yards this season along with 24 TDs and just eight INTs. His team is favored by two points over Arkansas State.