Our 2016 Gildan New Mexico Bowl free pick has the New Mexico Lobos (8-4 Overall, 6-2 Mountain West) playing the University of Texas San Antonio Roadrunners (6-6 Overall, 5-3 C-USA). The Lobos finished first in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West.
They have won one bowl game since 1961. The Roadrunners, who are in their first bowl ever, finished second in the C-USA West behind Louisiana Tech.
New Mexico Lobos
New Mexico’s two conference losses were to Boise State 49-21 and Colorado State 49-31. Before losing to CSU, the Lobos went on a five-game run where they beat Air Force, UL Monroe, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah State. After losing to CSU, New Mexico won their final game of the season, beating Wyoming 56-35.
The Lobos’ attack is based on effective rushing. RBs Teriyon Gipson (131 ATT, 1,209 YDs, 9.2 AVG, 12 TDs) and Tyrone Owens (134 ATT, 1,084 YDs, 8.1 AVG, 7 TDs) are the primary ball carriers. Junior QB Lamar Jordan will most likely start, although those duties may go to senior Austin Apodaca. There’s very little passing done by this offense. Jordan has some good running chops, as he’s averaged 6.5 YPA and has three TDs. The guy who’s hit pay dirt the most is RB Richard McQuarley. He has 17 rushing touchdowns and is averaging 4.7 YPA.
The Lobo defense brings 67 TFL, 27 sacks, and 38 passes broken up. They have just seven picks. The team’s turnover margin is -2.0. They’ve taken 80 penalties for 707 yards. That’s too many. They’re allowing opponents 34.2 PPG, while scoring 37.8 PPG.
University of Texas San Antonio Roadrunners
The University of Texas San Antonio ran into some rough times at the end of the season. In their last six games, they were 3-3. Included were losses to Louisiana Tech 63-35 and nonconference opponent #25 Texas A&M 23-10. They won their last game of the season as they took down Charlotte 33-14.
The Roadrunners’ offense is scoring an average of 29.9 PPG. Junior QB Dalton Sturm (58.2 COMP%, 18 TDs, 5 INTs) is a sound passer. WRs Kerry Thomas Jr. (31 REC, 510 YDs, 16.5 AVG, 8 TDs) and Josh Stewart (36 REC, 682 YDs, 18.9 AVG, 5 TDs) are impact players. RBs Jarveon Williams (191 ATT, 775 YDs, 4.1 AVG, 8 TDs) and Jalen Rhodes (142 ATT, 756 YDs, 5.3 AVG, 9 TDs) offer a fine one-two punch on the ground. Their frontline is pervious. That can be a problem.
UTSA defense is adroit at causing chaos. They have 11 forced fumbles, 26 sacks, and 36 QB hurries. The D has also broken up 46 passes, made 72 TFL, and picked seven passes. They Roadrunners have been penalized 84 times for 718 yards. The Roadrunners are allowing on average 28.2 PPG
2016 Gildan New Mexico Bowl Free Pick
The Lobos are 7.5-point favorites. Both teams would like to make their mark in this bowl game. UTSA brings a more rounded offense to the game, while New Mexico has a punishing ground attack. In our 2016 Gildan New Mexico Bowl free pick we’re taking UTSA in this one at +7.5
The Gildan New Mexico Bowl will be played on December 17, 2016 at 2 p.m. ET at University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico. It will be broadcast on ESPN.