The New Mexico Bowl has a date and kickoff time – 12:15 p.m. on Dec. 17 – after the bowl schedule for the upcoming season was released on Thursday.
The bowl will air on ESPN. It is slated to feature a team from the Mountain West vs. a team from a pool of leagues – Conference USA, the American Athletic Conference, the Sun Belt or the Mid-American Conference.
Fresno State defeated UTEP in last year’s edition of the game.
In earlier years, the New Mexico Bowl was the leadoff game for the bowl season.
Not so anymore.
The games begin on Dec. 16 with the Bahamas Bowl and the Cure Bowl in Orlando, Florida. They end with the College Football Playoff championship on Jan. 9 at the NFL stadium in Inglewood, California.
Meanwhile, the Sugar Bowl has been moved off its usual prime-time spot to 10 a.m. MT Dec. 31 to avoid a conflict with a Monday night NFL game.
The CFP semifinals also will be held Dec. 31, a Saturday, at the Peach and Fiesta bowls.
With Jan. 1 falling on Sunday, the games usually played on New Year’s Day were moved to Jan. 2, when the national holiday is observed. The move to Monday, Jan. 2, is common in college football to avoid conflicting with the NFL.
But ESPN found itself with a conflict that day: The NFL has scheduled the final Monday regular-season game for that night, which forced a relocation by the New Orleans-based Sugar Bowl on the schedule.
The Rose Bowl is scheduled for a 3 p.m. MT start Jan. 2 on ESPN, and will precede the Bills at Bengals game.
The last time the Sugar Bowl was played before Jan. 1 was 1995 when it was a Dec. 31 game between Virginia Tech and Texas.
The Orange Bowl will be played the night of Dec. 30 and the Cotton Bowl will also be played on Jan. 2, with an 11 a.m. MT kickoff scheduled.