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2006 New Mexico Bowl - New Mexico vs. SJSU
Posted Dec 14, 2006

2006 New Mexico Bowl - New Mexico vs. San Jose State

San Jose State (8-4) vs. New Mexico (6-6)

Dec. 23, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Get Tickets for the New Mexico Bowl | Get more picks for this game

New Mexico Bowl Player Profile: New Mexico RB Rodney Ferguson, team bowl history and more

Let's be honest here; if you're trying to sell the non-college football fan on the bowl season, this is as tough a sell as it gets.

Some call it the dog days of the early bowl season, some see this as the poster bowl for the argument against so many post-season games, but sometimes, the best bowl games come from the unlikeliest of places. You might not be able to name a Lobo or a Spartan, and unless you're a Mountain West or WAC fan, you probably didn't even know either of these programs existed.

Watch the game anyway.

National Rankings
San Jose State New Mexico
Total Offense
45th  363.67 ypg 89th 311.92 ypg
Total Defense
75th  352.67 ypg 84th  361.75 ypg
Scoring Offense
50th  25.33 ppg 70th  22.67 ppg
Scoring Defense
50th  21.5 ppg 72nd  24.33 ppg
Run Offense
15th  184.33 ypg 95th  109.67 ypg
Run Defense
84th  150.08 ypg 44th  122.00 ypg
Pass Offense
83rd  179.33 ypg 54th  202.25 ypg
Pass Defense
64th  202.58 ypg 102nd  239.75 ypg
Turnover Margin
32nd  0.42 27th  0.50
San Jose State
at Wash. L 35-29
Stanford W 35-34
Cal Poly
W 17-7
S Diego St W 31-10
Utah State
W 21-14
at Nevada L 23-7
La Tech W 44-10
at NMSU W 31-21
Boise State L 23-20
at Hawaii L 54-17
at Idaho W 28-13
Fresno St W 24-14
New Mexico  Portland State L 17-6
at NMSU W 34-28
Missouri L 27-17
UTEP W 26-13
at Air Force L 24-7
L 14-10
at UNLV W 39-36 OT
Utah W 34-31
at Col St W 20-19
TCU L 27-21
at BYU L 42-17
W 41-14
Position Ratings
relative to each other
SJ 5 highest
1 lowest
3.5 Quarterbacks 3.5
4 RBs 4
3 Receivers 4
3.5 O Line 2
3 D Line 3.5
3 Linebackers 3.5
3.5 Secondary 3
4 Spec Teams 3.5
4.5 Coaching 3.5

These will be two fired up programs that won't dog it in any way. Getting on the national stage as the lone game on a Saturday afternoon is enough reason to give these two a shot, and if you like defensive football without all the gimmicks, you'll have fun with this.

San Jose State is one of the best stories of the year as head coach Dick Tomey has taken the moribund program to just its second winning season since 1992 and the first bowl game since the 1990 California Bowl with a stingy D, one of the WAC's best running games, and excellent special teams.

The four Spartan losses were respectable losing the opener in a tight 35-29 battle with Washington, gave Boise State its toughest game of the year in a 23-20 thriller, and got thumped by Hawaii and Nevada. While no win for San Jose State can be dismissed considering the program won more games against D-I teams this year than it did in the previous three seasons combined, a victory over a bowl team would be nice. Stanford, Cal Poly, San Diego State, Utah State, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, Idaho and Fresno State weren't exactly beating down the door to Glendale.

New Mexico turned around its season with its defense and the emergence of young star-in-the-making QB Donovan Porterie, who provided a spark to the season before going down with an ankle injury.

Things appeared bleak from the start after a stunning 17-6 loss to Portland State on the way to a 2-4 start, but things quickly changed with an overtime win over UNLV and an upset over Utah as part of a three-game winning streak to provide hope for a six-win season. A 41-14 win over San Diego State meant bowl eligibility and seventh home game, and now the Lobos will try to break the bowl hex under Rocky Long and getting the first bowl win since the 1961 Aviation Bowl.

The Mountain West needs this. A home bowl loss to a WAC team would be a huge blow for the conference, while a San Jose State win would put a cap on one of the most miraculous turnarounds of the last few years.

It's bowl season. Kick back, relax and enjoy.
What are you going to do, last minute Christmas shop?

Players to watch: Who'll be the New Mexico quarterback? Starter Kole McKamey was lost early in the season to a knee injury putting backup Chris Nelson into the spotlight, and while the senior was decent, the team lost to Air Force and Wyoming bringing Donovan Porterie off the bench. The freshman was magnificent in the 34-31 win over Utah throwing for 350 yards and three touchdowns and appeared to be the perfect fit for the Lobo passing attack before injuring his ankle against TCU. Nelson made the most of his second chance playing well over the final two games, and the two quarterbacks got equal reps in bowl preparations, but it'll be Porterie's show to run.

San Jose State likes to use the run to set up the pass, but that doesn't mean QB Adam Tafralis isn't always a big part of the attack. He's a mobile playmaker who led the team in rushing in the win over Fresno State, but he's at his best in the passing game taking advantage of single coverage. Before this season, he had the talent, but he completed fewer than half his passes while struggling with his consistency. This year he's completing 68% of his throws with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions while doing a great job of moving the chains on third downs. With the New Mexico defense certain to key on Yonus Davis, Patrick Perry and the Spartan running game, Tafralis has to be sharp.

New Mexico's fast, talented receivers, Marcus Smith and Travis Brown are good enough to break the game open at any time, but the team would prefer to have RB Rodney Ferguson control the game and let the defense do the rest. The powerful sophomore had the unenviable task of replacing DonTrell Moore, and came through nicely rushing for 1,132 yards and seven touchdowns while showing surprising hands as a receiver. He's a 20-carry workhorse coming off a 210-yard day against San Diego State.

San Jose State will win if... it gets the ground game going. The Spartans ran for fewer than 100 yards three times all year and lost all three games. In the one other loss, against Nevada, the offense generated 77 passing yards. When the offense is effectively balanced, San Jose State wins. It's that simple. The Spartans are great at keeping the chains moving converting 42% of their third down chances, and that'll continue if the running attack is in a groove.

New Mexico will win if... Porterie gets hot and stays hot. The common misperception is that the WAC is a passing conference. Outside of Hawaii and New Mexico State, everyone else would rather pound it out. When the Spartans were challenged by a team with talented receives, they were torched getting lit up for 781 yards and eight touchdowns by Hawaii and NMSU, and got bombed by Stanford (before all the top receivers and QB Trent Edwards got hurt) for four scores. The SJSU secondary can be thrown on, but Porterie can't force it.

What will happen: Don't expect fireworks. The two defenses will be in charge forcing the offenses to panic a bit and take more shots down the field as the game goes on. New Mexico is better equipped to hit the home run through the air. The Lobo run defense will keep the San Jose State running game under wraps while the offense will get just enough balance in the second half to keep control of the game. New Mexico's fantastic kicker, Kenny Byrd, will hit four of five shots including a late kick to force the Spartans to go for a touchdowns. They'll come up short.

Line: New Mexico -5 ... CFN Prediction:
New Mexico 26 ... San Jose State 20

New Mexico Bowl Player Profile: New Mexico RB Rodney Ferguson, team bowl history and more