New Mexico State Can Renew an Old Rivalry in New Mexico Bowl

North Texas and New Mexico State can add another chapter to their unique and well-traveled rivalry in this year’s New Mexico Bowl

North Texas and New Mexico State clashed for the Sun Belt title in 2002.
Source: Rick Yeatts Photography

Today, New Mexico State learned the NCAA approved their waiver to be selected in a bowl game ahead of 5-7 teams due to the inability to reschedule a game after tragic circumstances forced them to cancel their game against San Jose State.

The likely destination would be the New Mexico Bowl as the Aggies have an agreement with ESPN-owned bowls. While a Mountain West opponent seems most likely, the Aggies’ diverse conference history could give it the option to meet an old conference foe

North Texas has accompanied New Mexico State across several conferences. From 1971-1974, the Aggies and Mean Green were members of the Missouri Valley Conference. The two schools reunited as conference mates in the Big West from 1996-2000, before that conference abandoned football, and New Mexico State and North Texas became founding members of the Sun Belt in 2001. The two schools resided in the Sun Belt together from 2001-2004. North Texas leads the all-time series 22-9-2.

A win for NMSU over a Conference USA Championship game participant would be a signature win for the program. Additionally, this is a series with history that has not occurred since 2004, so it has the perfect blend of familiarity and lack of recency.

There is also a bit of bad blood in the series as North Texas’ 2002 win over the Aggies prevented them from winning the Sun Belt and ending their 42-year bowl drought with an appearance in the New Orleans Bowl. The loss was New Mexico State’s only loss in Sun Belt play in 2002.

North Texas also has not appeared in the New Mexico Bowl since 2018 and is a manageable trip for Mean Green fans. The Mean Green likely will not go bowling in one of the ESPN-owned bowls in Texas given they played in last year’s Frisco Football Classic, so a trip to New Mexico is more likely than it would appear. The game would also be a rematch of the 1959 Sun Bowl which the Aggies won 28-8.

In the end, New Mexico State’s bowl appearance could be a nice homage to the Aggies intriguing history across several conferences. A game against North Texas would provide the Aggies with a quality opponent and a rivalry game of sorts while also being one of the most intriguing games in the history of the New Mexico Bowl.