Potato Bowl Bid Would Bring NMSU Back to Its Big West Roots

New Mexico State never locked up the Big West's spot in the Potato Bowl in the 90s. An appearance could provide a fun case of redemption.

The Big West had a tie in to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in New Mexico State's last four seasons in the conference.
Source: NMSU/Las Cruces Sun News

Yesterday, the NCAA granted New Mexico State's waiver to be selected ahead of all 5-7 bowl teams due to their inability to find an 11th-conference opponent after the tragic death of Camdan McWright forced the cancellation of their game against San Jose State. The New Mexico Bowl looks to be the likely destination for New Mexico State for obvious reasons, but there is one other bowl that would bring New Mexico State back to its Big West roots.

In New Mexico State's final four seasons in the Big West from 1997-2000, the conference sent its champions to Boise's Humanitarian Bowl. In those four seasons, the Aggies never won the Big West championship but came close in 1999.

That season, the Aggies finished 6-5 with a 3-2 record in the Big West. The Aggies beat the second-place Idaho Vandals but lost to eventual champion Boise State. Had they beaten Boise State, they would have won the Big West outright and the trip to the Humanitarian Bowl. The Aggies had a chance to go to the bowl when they were members of the WAC, but never really came close.

A spot in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl would be a fun throwback to stranger times in New Mexico State's history when the goal Aggies fans set their sights on was Boise. Additionally, it would give them a chance to play a conference they rarely play in the MAC.

New Mexico State is 2-5 against schools currently in the MAC. However, three games and both wins came against Northern Illinois when the Huskies were members of the Big West with New Mexico State, so the Aggies have never beaten a school that was in the MAC at the time they played. The only bowl-eligible MAC team New Mexico State has played is Ohio. The schools played in 2011 and 2012 with Ohio winning both games.

While the New Mexico Bowl is the hands-down choice for Aggies fans, the chance to reminisce and beat a program the Aggies have never faced should make the Potato Bowl the backup plan for fans.