2023 Isleta New Mexico Bowl – New Mexico State vs Fresno State

2023 Isleta New Mexico Bowl – New Mexico State vs Fresno State

December 16, 2023 College Football Bowl Game – Isleta New Mexico Bown

2023 Isleta New Mexico Bowl
New Mexico State vs Fresno State
12/16/2023 5:45 PM EST
Albuquerque, NM

2023 New Mexico Bowl Betting Odds
New Mexico State -3.5
Total: 51.5

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Opt Out’s, Transfer News, and Coaching Changes for the New Mexico Bowl

The Aggies’ best wide receiver Trent Hudson has opted out. Hudson led the team in receiving touchdowns this season with 10 scores, as well as 35 catches for 551 yards. New Mexico State could also be without their starting quarterback, Diego Pavia, after he was hurt in the Conference USA Championship Game against Liberty. Pavia’s status is unknown heading into the bowl game matchup against Fresno State.

Fresno State will have nobody sitting out of their bowl game matchup on Saturday, but unfortunately will be missing their head coach. Coach Jeff Tedford will be missing the end of the season due to health reasons. This could be a big loss for Fresno State, and it will be important to keep tabs on what acting head coach Tim Skipper does with the squad as we get closer to kickoff. Backup quarterback Logan Fife entered the transfer portal which is noteworthy as he spent a decent chunk of time to end the season filling in for starter Mikey Keene.

 

New Mexico State 2023 Bowl Preview

New Mexico State winds up with the easy 3-hour drive up Interstate 25 to head up to Albuquerque for their bowl game against Fresno State. Following the comeback season that this team had following their 2-3 start to the year, I would say the local bowl game is a fine reward. The Aggies started their season with losses against UMass, on the road at Liberty, and flying all the way out to face Hawaii for everyone’s favorite nightcap bet. With wins only coming against in-state rivals New Mexico and Western Illinois, October looked like quite the daunting task for this crew to overcome.

That is when the Aggies turned it on. This squad led by quarterback Diego Pavia, who led the team in rush yards at 851 this season, rattled off 8 wins in a row to end their season. The start of their win streak was not as impressive in quality of win as the latter half was, as New Mexico State took down Western Kentucky and Auburn on the road before capping off their season with a home victory over Jacksonville State. The previous five wins may have only been against teams that ended with 4 wins or less this season, but the resume heading into their Conference-USA championship game against Liberty ended up proving to be well deserved.

However, the Aggies once again fell to Liberty, and in the process their dynamic rushing QB Diego Pavia fell due to injury. With Pavia’s health still in the balance, a lot is at question here for New Mexico State. This squad was the 4th best team in college football in yards per rush at 5.8, and 13th in rush yards per game at 198 a contest. Their strong ground game was also supported by runningback Star Thomas who ran for 643 yards and 4 touchdowns this season paired with 194 yards receiving. The Aggies potentially losing their main option in Diego Pavia though will not only impact the option they run on offense but also is sure to impact receiver Jonathan Brady who had over 500 yards receiving this season, and will have to fill in for Trent Hudson who opted out after leading the offense with ten touchdowns.

The shoulder injury Pavia sustained continues to be downplayed by New Mexico State, and the expectation is that he will still play in the New Mexico Bowl this Saturday. I worry if Pavia will be a full go, but the spread has moved accordingly with the Aggies sitting anywhere from -1.5 to -2.5 a week and a half ago to now being favored in this matchup by -3.5 to -4.5. If Pavia does look like himself, he should have no trouble slicing and dicing this Fresno State defense with Star Thomas, as the Bulldogs rank in the bottom half to bottom quarter of most rushing statistics defensively this season.

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Fresno State 2023 Bowl Preview

The Bulldogs saw their season take an opposite spin on things compared to the Aggies this year, as Fresno State were able to put together an 8-1 start to the year. However, as their quarterback Mikey Keene struggled with a leg injury as well as concussion issues, the team struggled and lost their final three outings. On top of Keene’s health being a question, backup quarterback Logan Fife entered the portal following the season’s conclusion, which means if Keene goes down again in the bowl game that the Bulldogs could be left with their third string quarterback.

Fresno State’s fall in form at the end of the season was ugly. Losses to San Jose State, New Mexico (a shared opponent between their current foe in the New Mexico Bowl), and San Diego State totaled 42, 25, and 33 points allowed on defense respectively. On average, the offense was only averaging just below 18 points in those three games after averaging 34 in their nine games prior. Neither Mikey Keene or Logan Fife could break 200 yards passing in their final three games, which was the bread and butter for this offense.

I worry that the injuries to Mikey Keene will hinder his ability against New Mexico State in their bowl matchup. Fresno State is not going to be able to run the ball well against their opponent, and could not crack the top 100 of 133 college football teams this season in yards per rush, rushes per game, or rush yards per game. With 59.9% of their plays coming via the pass, ranking seventh in the nation, I do not see how Fresno State is going to be able to get anything going on offense when Mikey Keene is still hurt and Logan Fife is out the door. Pair the exit of their head coach, and we may have a disaster on our hands as they travel to their opponent’s home state for the bowl game.

 

2023 New Mexico Bowl Betting Prediction:

I like New Mexico State to win and cover the three-and-a-half point spread here. Pavia is looking to be active for this one, and even though they lost their best receiver to the portal, the rushing attack of the Aggies should overwhelm a Fresno State side that has struggled defensively as a whole the last several weeks. With the Bulldogs quarterback also lacking the certainty of health, and Fresno State’s head coach having to step away, we have a decent sample size to indicate things are going south for the visitors. I like the New Mexico crowd to also favor their home team here and make the voyage up to Albuquerque. I will take this spread all the way up to -4.5 if you can.

The Play: New Mexico State -3.5 (-110) – 1 Unit

THIS IS AN ARTICLE WRITTEN BY ANDY CHASE

 

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