NCAA Football: New Mexico State at Auburn

The New Mexico Bowl could have some home cooking as the game features Fresno State from the Mountain West traveling to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to take on New Mexico State. Despite New Mexico State's close proximity to the site of its in-state rival -- Utah State -- the Aggies are making their first appearance in this bowl game. 

New Mexico State has experienced a resurgence under coach Jerry Kill, who has guided the program to back-to-back bowl appearances in his two years leading the Aggies. Last season's success, highlighted by the program's first bowl bid since 2017, provided a springboard to even more impressive heights as New Mexico State won 10 games and finished as the Conference USA runner-up in 2023. It's just the second time in program history New Mexico State has recorded a double-digit win season, and with a victory the Aggies could match the school record from 1960 with 11 wins. 

Fresno State enters under slightly different circumstances as the Bulldogs will be led by acting coach Tim Skipper as Jeff Tedford has temporarily stepped away for medical reasons. The Bulldogs had a terrific start to the season, winning eight of their first nine games with two wins against power conference competition. But three straight losses to close the regular season put an end to Mountain West title and New Year's Six bowl hopes. So Saturday's game is an opportunity to put a better finish on what has been a successful season. 

How to watch New Mexico Bowl live

Date: Saturday, Dec. 16 | Time: 5:45 p.m. ET
Location: University Stadium -- Albuquerque, N.M.
TV: ESPN | Live stream: Fubo (Try for free)
For a limited time, new subscribers can save $20 on Fubo's Pro, Elite and Premier plans.

Fresno State vs. New Mexico State: Need to know

Two teams with history: Fresno State and New Mexico State will be playing against each other for the 20th time, extending a series that has been handily dominated by the Bulldogs. The two programs first met in 1972 and have been conference foes in two different leagues -- first in the Pacific Coast Athletic Association/Big West from 1984-91 and then again in the WAC from 2005-11. Fresno State holds an 18-1 advantage in the series with New Mexico State claiming its lone win back in 2011. The two programs played in 2019 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and are actually scheduled to play again in 2024 in Fresno, California. 

Diego Pavia on the verge of history: New Mexico State quarterback Diego Pavia has been a huge piece to the Aggies success this year, and he was honored as the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year after being just one of eight players in all of college football to lead his team in both passing and rushing. The Albuquerque, New Mexico, native has been on a tear recently that not only has him ranking among the top passers and rushers in all of Conference USA -- even as a quarterback, Pavia ranks third in C-USA in rushing yards and rushing yards per attempt -- but also as one of the top offensive threats in New Mexico State program history. With 87 more rushing yards, Pavia will become the program's all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback. 

Fresno State very familiar with the New Mexico Bowl: There have only been 17 previous editions of the New Mexico Bowl, and Fresno State will be making its fourth appearance in the game this year. The Bulldogs last played in the New Mexico Bowl in 2021, defeating UTEP, but lost in its first two New Mexico Bowl appearances back in 2008 and 2009. That win in 2021 carries some notable connections to 2023; Fresno State was also under the direction of an interim coach -- at the time Kalen DeBoer had left to accept the head coaching position at Washington -- and Bulldogs fans are hoping for a similar outcome despite the medical circumstances that have sidelined Tedford. 

New Mexico Bowl prediction, picks

As it is often the case when picking bowl games, which in the modern era carry more unpredictability than ever, it's important to look at where each team is in relation to their expectations. New Mexico State is playing in just its sixth bowl game ever on the verge of matching the best win total in program history, while Fresno State saw its bowl position slide down the Mountain West pecking order with three consecutive losses to close the regular season. Throw in any home-field edge you might consider, and I think the Aggies are the smart play here. Pick: New Mexico State -3.5 

Which college football picks can you make with confidence during bowl season? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned well over $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons -- and find out.