New Mexico State won a bowl game.
The Aggies, making their first bowl appearance since the Sun Bowl following the 1960 season, won the Arizona Bowl over Utah State 26-20 in overtime thanks to a touchdown by senior running back Larry Rose III.
The score set off a frenzy in Tucson with New Mexico State fans storming the field to celebrate with players.
New Mexico State won its final two games of the season to get to 6-6 and bowl eligible. But simple bowl eligibility was just one of their concerns at the end of the season. The school had said it was hopeful to get to either the New Mexico or Arizona Bowls because of financial reasons. NMSU has been dealing with severe budget cuts over the past few years.
The Arizona Bowl picked the Aggies to play the USU Aggies and nearly 40,000 people were in attendance. Many of them wearing NMSU colors.
Oh, and we can’t forget the New Mexico State tee dog, who is a very good tee dog.
The win caps an incredible turnaround for the Aggies in the fourth season of Doug Martin’s tenure. New Mexico State hadn’t finished above .500 since 2002 or won five games since 2004. Rose has been a key component of that comeback too. The running back has rushed for over 4,500 yards and 37 touchdowns in his career with the school.
And the 7-6 season came in the school’s final year in the Sun Belt Conference. The conference is dropping NMSU and Idaho next season. The decision leaves NMSU to fight it out as an independent as Idaho drops down to the FCS ranks.
The game was also the first bowl for the school that wasn’t the Sun Bowl and means the Aggies continue to be undefeated in postseason games. NMSU won the Sun Bowl after the 1959 and 1960 seasons and tied in the game after the 1935 season.
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