As the New Mexico Bowl this year will actually be played in … New Mexico, there are a few reasons to pay attention – even without a local team in the game.
• It’ll be interesting to see how the Fresno State Bulldogs (9-3) perform after losing coach Kalen DeBoer and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb to Washington. Fresno State hired Jeff Tedford, who coached the Bulldogs from 2017 to 2019, to replace DeBoer, but Tedford will not coach in the bowl game.
• The UTEP Miners (7-5), meanwhile, are playing in a bowl game for the first time in seven years but didn’t beat anyone with a winning record this season. The Miners are trying to make a little history. UTEP has not played in the postseason since 2014 and it has not won a bowl since 1967, when it beat Ole Miss at its home Sun Bowl.
• And we can see if Albuquerque can put on a show for both the teams and Saturday’s ESPN-televised game – after the event relocated to Texas last year because of COVID-19 prohibitions on gatherings within the state of New Mexico.
Fresno State was scheduled to arrive into Albuquerque Tuesday night, and UTEP will be in by Wednesday. The teams have dinners scheduled Wednesday and Thursday. Friday, there is a luncheon for both teams at 11:30 a.m. at Isleta Resort, and a 4 p.m. pep rally in Old Town Plaza.
Kickoff is Saturday at 12:15 p.m.