New Mexico State awaiting first bowl bid in 57 years but can play in only one game
The Aggies have the nation's longest bowl drought (1960), but the Arizona Bowl is their only viable option
New Mexico State hasn't played in a bowl game since 1960. Now all the Aggies need is to find out is whether they will be placed in the one bowl they can actually afford to attend.
New Mexico State beat South Alabama 22-17 on Saturday, improving its record to 6-6. It's the first time the Aggies have achieved bowl eligibility since 2002, which was the last time they've had a winning season (7-5).
As the Sun Belt Conference has five bowl spots to fill -- and NMSU is the fifth eligible team from the conference -- there is no doubt the Aggies will have the opportunity to go bowling this season. Jerry Palm currently has the Aggies in the Arizona Bowl in his latest bowl projections.
The Aggies were undefeated in 1960 the last time they played in a bowl game. They rallied to beat Utah State 20-13 in the 1960 Sun Bowl.
Doug Martin has engineered quite a turnaround for the program. NMSU was 1-11 in 2012 when the program fired DeWayne Walker and hired Martin, the former Kent State coach (2004-10). The Aggies went 2-10 in Martin's first two seasons, then 3-9 in 2015 and 2016 before doubling their victory total in 2017.
The Aggies had a record of 31-116 from 2005 through 2016.
As for where New Mexico State will wind up, the best guess -- and the team's only hope for postseason life -- is the Arizona Bowl. According to NBC 9 out of El Paso, the Aggies "can't afford" any of the four other Sun Belt bowls due to a number of factors, including financial constraints and travel distance for fans. Should NMSU be placed elsewhere, it will have to decline the bid.
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