Boise State's run of dominance from 2004-2010 will always be one of college football's most remarkable. The Broncos amassed a stunning 104-13 record, went to two BCS bowl games, and were a missed field goal away from making a third. They dominated the WAC, with only Hawaii, Nevada, and Fresno State being real competitors to the Broncos.
New Mexico State was on the other end of the spectrum, despite being in the WAC with Boise State. While sharing the WAC with Boise State from 2005-2010, the Aggies went 16-58, never winning more than four games in a season. The gap between them and Boise State could not be any wider.
The Broncos went 6-0 against the Aggies and won each game by an average score of 51-6. The Broncos' dominance against the Aggies stretches back to the two schools' time in the Big West, with Boise State holding an 11-0 series lead since the first game in 1996.
Against all odds, both schools' fortunes flipped seemingly overnight. New Mexico State is in a renaissance under Jerry Kill, with a 10-3 record and their most wins in a season since the Eisenhower administration. The Aggies got the nation's attention with a dominant 31-10 win over Auburn. They will play for their first conference championship since 1960 and go to back-to-back bowls for the first time since 1959 and 1960.
On the other hand, Boise State is a transitioning program, having just fired head coach Andy Avalos. The Broncos have not notched a 10-win season since 2019 and were in danger of having their first losing season since 1997. The Broncos finished the year strong and won three in a row to finish 7-5. Surprisingly, the Broncos will play for the Mountain West title.
A Boise State loss could be enough to set the stage for a WAC reunion between the two. New Mexico State seems like an easy pick for the New Mexico Bowl. Their opponent is more of a mystery. Last week, I argued for a Power Five team going to the Land of Enchantment for Bowl Season. This week, I make the argument for Boise State.
The Broncos have never played in the New Mexico Bowl and did not visit Albuquerque this year in Mountain West play. The Broncos played in the ESPN-owned Frisco Bowl last season, so a trip to any of the trio of Dallas-Fort Worth area bowls the media giant owns is unlikely.
ESPN also owns the New Mexico Bowl, and the network has shown its desire to create quality "made-for-TV" matchups for the bowl game. Last year, the bowl moved from its traditional Mountain West-Conference USA matchup and featured BYU and SMU instead.
There is hardly any better storyline in college football than a "rags to riches" story. Boise State embodied how an underdog school's rise could captivate the country. The Broncos' 2007 Fiesta Bowl upset and 2010 near-national title run are two of the most fondly remembered moments in recent college football memory.
New Mexico State's season this year mirrors that to a lesser degree. While the Aggies are not in the running for a New Year's Six Bowl, the rise of one of college football's most-cursed programs is one of the best storylines this year. Six years ago, New Mexico State appeared in their first bowl game since 1960. Now, they have a chance at a 12-win season.
Playing a school that once dominated them yearly in a culmination of their greatest season in six decades is the best ending for the Aggies. ESPN cares about viewership when determining matchups for the bowls they own. There is hardly a more compelling matchup in the Group of Five than a New Mexico State-Boise State faceoff. The network would do college football fans an injustice by depriving them of this matchup.