There are multiple firsts taking place in Albuquerque on Saturday. The New Mexico Bowl between the UTSA Roadrunners and New Mexico Lobos is both the first bowl game of the season and the first-ever bowl game for UTSA.
Both teams pride themselves on being able to run the football and the Roadrunners may have one of their toughest challenges against a Lobo team that’s averaging nearly 361 yards on the ground per game, which is 33 yards more than Army and nearly 69 more yards more than the next closest team that isn’t a service academy.
New Mexico brings a dynamic 1-2 punch on the ground with Tyrone Owens (Manor) and Teriyon Gipson (Dallas Kimball) who have each ran for over 1,000 yards and combined for nearly 2,300 yards total.
However, the Roadrunners may have just the player to stop the Lobos’ rushing attack in sophomore defensive end Josiah Tauaefa (Lake Dallas HS). Tauaefa led the team with 104 total tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.
The Roadrunners have two reliable running backs themselves Jarveon Williams (Converse Judson) and Jalen Rhodes (Rowlett). The duo have rushed for a combined 1,531 yards and 17 touchdowns. If you combine that with steady quarterback Dalton Sturm (Goliad), UTSA brings a balanced attack to this matchup with the Lobos.
Head coach Frank Wilson has had a successful first year in San Antonio, who took over for Larry Coker after the first five seasons in the program’s history. The Roadrunners’ record improved from three to six wins and they earned a second place finish in the West Division of Conference USA.
New Mexico is the slight favorite to win this game, but UTSA being in a bowl game for the first time is a worthy accomplishment.
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