The New Mexico Bowl has put together a good match-up for 2019. That is not always the case.
Last year’s game was not close as the Utah State Aggies took care of the North Texas Mean Green 52-10.
New Mexico Bowl Preview; Central Michigan vs San Diego State
However, this one should be a pretty good challenge between two good group of five teams that have had bounce back seasons. These teams are the San Diego State Aztecs (9-3, 5-3 Mountain West) and the Central Michigan Chippewas (8-5, 6-2 Mid American West).
San Diego State is second in the Mountain West-West while Central Michigan is first in the Mid American West.
Some will ask why this game has big implications. Well let’s take a look at the key players and what both teams have done this season.
Starting with Central Michigan, they had a slow start to the season. They would only beat the Albany Great Danes by three touchdowns, and got crushed by Wisconsin Badgers 61-0.
The Chippewas bounced back with wins against Akron, Eastern Michigan, New Mexico State, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois, Toledo, and a one point victory against Ball State. They, however, fell to Buffalo, Western Michigan, Miami, and Miami (OH).
Despite those losses, this season has been great for them, especially after winning just one game in 2018.
This was all done by the coaching of Jim McElwain who had experience with the Florida Gators as he got them to a bowl in his first two seasons.
The same with Colorado State where he had a slow start, but finished his next two seasons with records of 8-6 and 10-3.
The Key Players
They are led by senior quarterback Quinten Dormady who ranks 76th in yardage having 2,148 yards and 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.
His struggles have been in away games where he has thrown three touchdowns and five interceptions. Against non-conference opponents, he has five touchdowns and one interception.
Dormady is a transfer from Tennessee. When he was with the Volunteers, he had seven touchdowns and six interceptions. He then was apart of the Houston Cougars, before becoming a Chippewa.
Meanwhile, running back Jonathan Ward is having a good season running the ball. Ward ranks 36th having 1,082 yards on the ground and 15 touchdowns which is tied for 12th.
Ward is a leader on this team and when he finds that open space, then its off to the races. He can put on a show with his moves too, either spinning, stiff arming a defender, or juking them out.
Look for Central Michigan to give the ball to him for a good portion of the game. If the offensive line does its job, then Jonathan Ward is going to have himself a day.
If the Chippewas decide to pass, then Dormandy will have to throw to Kalil Pimpleton. Pimpleton is tied 66th with 823 yards and tied 15th with 79 receptions. He has six touchdowns on the season. He also rushed for 81 yards on seven attempts.
Look for Dormady to become an efficient passer if he finds his wide receivers open early on. If they are getting covered however, then you transfer over to the running game to wear them out.
Central Michigan is looking for their first bowl victory since 2012 where they beat the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl 24-21.
San Diego State Aztecs
San Diego State is looking to have a .500 record in bowl games. The 2010 era have provided many winning seasons, but they have lost five bowl games and only won four.
The Aztecs come into this game as three and a half favorites with an over/under of 41 points. San Diego State is 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games according to CBSSports.com.
San Diego State was ranked 24th in the AP Poll, bouncing back from an early loss against Utah State. That all came to an end when the Nevada Wolfpack defense stopped the Aztec offense. The final score would be 17-13 Nevada shocking the Mountain West. San Diego State bounced back with a win against Fresno State 17-7, but fell again to Hawaii 14-11.
The Aztecs bounced back in the final game of the regular season beating BYU 13-3, getting them motivated for the New Mexico Bowl.
Injury Concerns/Keys to the Game
There is some concern for quarterback Ryan Agnew who sat out against BYU because of a calf injury. Agnew is expected to play however according to multiple websites, but no official word has been released by the team.
That defense is led by cornerback Luq Barcoo who is tied second in the FBS with eight interceptions. He also has 16 pass break ups in the process.
The only problem is that the Aztecs will turn to backup running backs Chance Bell, Chase Jasmin, Jordan Byrd, and Kaegun Williams. The reason is that Juwan Washington’s ankle is not one hundred percent.
Washington missed the first half of the season and later re injured that ankle in the 14-11 loss against the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii.
The Aztecs are led by Rocky Long who has a record of 80-38 with San Diego State and has won three Mountain West titles in 2012, 2015 and 2016. The Aztecs are 3-5 in bowl games under Long.
These two teams have never met in the modern college football era.
This is going to be an entertaining battle, and if Central Michigan’s powerful running game can get past the fifth best defense in the FBS, or if the Aztecs are going to take control early and not look back.
Kickoff for the 13th New Mexico Bowl is Saturday December 21st at 2pm eastern on ESPN. The winner will get the New Mexico Bowl trophy.