The 2019 season is the 150th in the history of college football, and to help commemorate this milestone the New Mexico Bowl has compiled some of the top moments, coaches, players and games in its 14-year history.
The New Mexico Bowl has seen record-setting individual performances, historic comebacks and plenty of close games (eight decided by one score). Four bowl alumni have been selected in the first round of the NFL draft, including Ezekiel Ansah fifth overall in 2013, and numerous other bowl standouts have gone on to successful NFL careers including Shaquil Barrett, Derek Carr, Michael Gallup, Aaron Jones, Colin Kaepernick and Kyle Van Noy.
The New Mexico Bowl is proud to be a part of college football’s long and storied history.
- Monday, Dec. 16 – Impactful Coaches and Top 5 Moments
- Tuesday, Dec. 17 – All-Decade Teams
- Wednesday, Dec. 18 – Top 5 Games
Rocky Long – New Mexico (2006 and 2007) and San Diego State (2019)
As the head coach at the University of New Mexico, Rocky Long led the Lobos to the New Mexico Bowl in the inaugural game in 2006, and then earned UNM’s first bowl victory in 46 years in the 2007 game. More than being a coach, Long was an essential advocate for the fledgling New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque.
The former UNM quarterback appeared in a commercial to help sell the first game in 2006, and during the game instead of wearing a hat with his school’s logo, Long donned a cap featuring the New Mexico Bowl logo. This was all in support of a bowl game in a place that he loves. Long’s support was essential to getting the New Mexico Bowl launched, giving it credibility in the game’s early years, and helping it become a tradition in the Land of Enchantment.
Long is returning to the New Mexico Bowl as head coach of the San Diego State Aztecs in 2019.
Rich Rodriguez – Arizona (2012 and 2015)
The only coach in the history of the New Mexico Bowl to lift the trophy twice, Rich Rodriguez had a great impact on the New Mexico Bowl and its community by embracing the young bowl and being very vocal in his support of the event. As the first Pac-12 (and “Power Five” conference) team to play in the New Mexico Bowl, “Rich-Rod” brought his Wildcats to Albuquerque in 2012 and engineered one of the best comebacks in bowl history, scoring two touchdowns in the game’s final minutes to beat Nevada in a 49-48 thriller. While the New Mexico Bowl was an unknown commodity to Pac-12 teams, Rodriguez embraced the game and the community. Three years later, and just one year after taking his team to the Fiesta Bowl, Rodriguez brought his team back to Albuquerque, citing the great experience the Wildcats had in 2012, and beat UNM 45-37 in the bowl’s 10th anniversary game. Rich Rodriguez embraced the New Mexico Bowl and helped build the game’s profile, thus becoming one of the most impactful coaches the New Mexico Bowl has had.
Top 5 Moments
Dec. 21, 2013 – Colorado State Caps Comeback
Colorado State’s Donnell Alexander’s ran in a two-point conversion to tie the game against Washington State at 45 with 33 seconds left in regulation.
Alexander rolled to the left with a Cougar on his heels, outstretched his right arm and tapped the pylon with the football. Initially he was ruled out of bounds, but instant replay overruled the call. The conversion seemed to take all the wind out of the Washington State Cougars as CSU capped a 15-point comeback in the final 2:52 by recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and kicking a 41-yard field goal as time expired to win 48-45.
Dec. 21, 2013 – Barrett’s Forced Fumble and Recovery Spark Ram’s Rally
Alexander’s heroics would not have been possible if not for Shaquil Barrett. The Rams’ standout defender stripped WSU running back Jere Laufasa at the Cougars’ 33-yard line on the preceding possession and recovered the ball with 1:51 remaining. This came a play after another forced turnover by Barrett was overturned. One snap prior Barrett appeared to strip Cougar quarterback Connor Halliday with the Rams recovering, but the play was reversed upon replay review.
Dec. 20, 2008 – Johnson Sets New FBS Bowl Record
Colorado State’s Gartrell Johnson, III set a new FBS bowl game record with 375 yards from scrimmage on 32 touches as the Rams defeated Fresno State 40-35. Johnson erupted for a 77-yard touchdown run with 1:46 left in the game to provide the winning points for the Rams. He finished with 27 carries for 285 yards and a pair of TDs while adding five catches for 90 yards on his way to Offensive MVP honors.
Dec. 19, 2009 – Cowboys’ Overtime Stands
In the first New Mexico Bowl to go to overtime, Wyoming twice came up with big stops after regulation against Fresno State to win 35-28. In the first overtime the Cowboys stopped Ryan Mathews, the nation’s leading rusher, on three rushing attempts from the one-yard line, including a fourth-down attempt.
Following a 13-yard TD pass by Cowboys’ QB and Mountain West Freshman of the Year Austyn Carta-Samuels in the second OT, the Wyoming defense once again came up with a stop. The Cowboys forced a fumble on fourth down to secure the victory, which caused the Wyoming fans to spill out of the stands to celebrate as the school band played “Cowboy Joe.”
Dec. 22, 2007 – Lobos Earn Shutout for First Bowl Win in 46 Years
A defensive effort for the ages helped the University of New Mexico earn its first bowl win since 1961 as the Lobos shut out Nevada 23-0. It was the first time the Wolfpack had been shut out since 1980 – a stretch of 330 games. One of the highlights was the play of UNM All-America kicker John Sullivan. Despite playing all season with a torn ACL in his left (plant) leg, Sullivan kicked three field goals for the Lobos, including a career-long 53-yarder that gave the Lobos a 17-0 lead with 5:55 remaining in the first half. The 53-yard field goal remains a New Mexico Bowl record to this day.
For tickets and more information regarding the New Mexico Bowl, visit newmexicobowl.com.
ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 34 collegiate sporting events nationwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games, the FCS opening-weekend game, 16 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events, a college softball event and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 375-plus hours of live programming, reaches nearly 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and Tampa, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans.
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