New Mexico State is in a rebuilding year under new coach Jerry Kill but is on a solid path sitting at 4-5 heading into their final two games of the season. Yes, I am aware that New Mexico State has beaten some bad teams in 2-9 Hawaii, 1-9 UMass, 2-8 New Mexico, and 1-9 FCS school Lamar.
However, this is nearly uncharted territory for the Aggies. This is only the third time since 2005 that New Mexico State has even won four games, with the last two times being 2007, 2011, and 2017.
In 2017, the Aggies were 4-6 heading into their final two games. Five years ago, the situation was a lot more optimistic as they only had to beat 3-7 Idaho and 4-7 South Alabama. Awaiting them this year is Missouri, and 8-2 Liberty, so the level of difficulty is just a little bit higher.
There are two scenarios for the Aggies to reach bowl eligibility.
- Win Out.
As Jake Taylor said in “Major League”, “There’s only one thing left to do. Win the whole f*****g thing.” And if the Aggies do that, all they will have to do is wait for an unfilled bowl slot, likely the New Mexico Bowl, to open up.
New Mexico State AD Mario Moccia mentioned in a recent interview that the Aggies are close to scheduling a makeup opponent on December 5 after their game against San Jose State got canceled due to the tragic death of freshman Spartan running back Camdan McWright. This is significant because the Aggies will need to go 3-0 in their final two games to reach the seven wins they need to reach bowl eligibility with two FCS wins.
In front of the Aggies are 4-6 Missouri, 8-2 Liberty, and this mystery FCS school. Of course, Missouri is a challenge, as they beat Louisiana Tech 52-24, but let Abilene Christian hang around in a 34-17 win. The bad news for the Aggies is they have lost their two games against Power Five schools, Minnesota and Wisconsin, by a combined score of 104-7. The idea of the Aggies controlling their destiny dies with a loss to Missouri, but they would still be alive, with a lot of help.
- Go 2-1 and Hope There Are Not Enough Bowl Eligible Teams
Surprisingly, New Mexico State would still be alive if they lose on the road to Missouri and a 2-1 finish with wins over Liberty, and the mystery FCS school is more realistic than you think. While Liberty is 8-2 on the year with a win over Arkansas and time spent in the Top 25, they have had disappointing showings against teams worse than New Mexico State.
On September 24, Akron, who is 1-9 right now, was a two-point conversion away from tying Liberty in the 4th quarter before losing 21-12 on the road. On October 15, the Flames needed a 4th quarter touchdown and a late interception to beat 5-5 Gardner-Webb of the Big South. Liberty may come out flat against New Mexico State, especially after the upset loss to UConn last week.
With a loss to Missouri and a win over Liberty, the Aggies would be at 5-6 heading into their December 5 makeup game. All that would be left to do is take care of business and wait. This season, there are 82 bowl spots available and right now, 64 schools are bowl eligible. The Aggies would need a good amount of schools to lose as over 30 schools are still eligible for a bowl berth. Additionally, as Brett McMurphy reported, if there is one extra bowl-eligible team, ESPN will create a bowl for two more schools to play in. New Mexico State could benefit from this at 6-6 with two FCS wins as this same concession was made last year for 6-7 Hawaii to play in the Hawaii Bowl.
New Mexico State has not had the turnaround that UConn has had, but their improvement is one of the more underrated stories of the college football season. With a couple of wins and some luck, New Mexico State could find themselves bowling for the second time in five years.