The 2021 New Mexico Bowl features the 7-5 UTEP Miners against the 9-3 Fresno State Bulldogs. Here is the 2021 New Mexico Bowl Preview.
UTEP Miners (7-5)
Dana Dimel has turned UTEP around and helped them reach their first bowl game since 2014. They defeated one bowl-eligible team this season. The Miners did lose to one team who didn’t qualify for a bowl game.
UTEP scores 25.3 points per game, ranking them 89th in the country. They pass for 247.8 yards (ranked 54th) and rush for 143.5 yards per game (ranked 85th).
Gavin Hardison has been the quarterback for the Miners this season. He has passed for 2,966 yards, 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on 56 percent completion. Hardison has three receivers with over 500 yards on the season. The best receiver is Jacob Cowing, who has 67 receptions for 1,330 yards and seven touchdowns. Justin Garrett has 659 receiving yards and four touchdowns, while Tyrin Smith has posted 509 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
The Miners allow 24.8 points per game, which ranks 53rd in the country. They give up 134.9 rushing yards (ranked 42nd) and 204.5 passing yards per game (ranked 30th). Linebacker Breon Hayward leads the team with 97 tackles. Defensive ends Jadrian Taylor and Praise Amaewhule lead the team with 6.5 and 5.5 sacks respectively.
Fresno State Bulldogs (9-3)
Kalen DeBoer led the team to a 9-3 season before taking the Washington job. The Bulldogs defeated four bowl-eligible teams this season. All three losses were to teams who qualified for bowl games.
Fresno State scores 33.6 points per game, which ranks them 28th in the country. They pass for 330.1 yards (ranking ninth) and rush for 133.5 yards per game (ranked 92nd).
Jake Haener was the quarterback for the Bulldogs, but he almost decided to follow DeBoer to Washington. He has passed for 3,810 yards, 32 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 67.5 percent completion. Jalen Cropper is the leading receiver with 76 receptions for 827 yards and 11 touchdowns. Josh Kelly, Keric Wheatfall and Zane Pope each have at least 400 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Ronnie Rivers leads the Bulldogs rushing attack. He has 788 rushing yards and five touchdowns this season. Jordan Mims is the only other running back who has had much run behind Rivers. He has rushed for 545 yards and four touchdowns.
The defense has been solid, allowing 20.3 points per game, which ranks 21st in the country. They allow 215.2 passing yards (ranked 43rd) and 127.3 rushing yards per game (ranked 31st). Linebacker Evan Williams leads the team with 89 tackles. David Perales and Kevin Atkins are tied for the team lead with seven sacks.
There is some uncertainty at Fresno State without their head coach. Getting Haener back after he initially though about transferring is huge for this game. The Bulldogs should be able to win by at least a touchdown.
Fresno State Bulldogs 33 UTEP Miners 25
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