It’s the most wonderful time of the year for college football fans as bowl season is upon us. And excitement is building for the Gildan New Mexico Bowl 2017.
The Gildan New Mexico Bowl 2017 is just two days away and this year’s matchup will be particularly interesting featuring two teams that are unfamiliar with each other, the Marshall Thundering Herd of C-USA and the Colorado State Rams of the Mountain West.
Marshall had a bounce-back season in 2017 after a disappointing 3-9 season in 2016 by finishing 7-5 overall and 4-4 in C-USA play, but finished just 1-4 after a 6-1 start to the season. This will be the Herd’s first bowl game appearance since winning the 2015 St. Petersburg Bowl against UConn.
Colorado State comes in with an identical record as Marshall at 7-5 overall and 5-3 in Mountain West play and much like the Herd, the Rams struggled at season’s end by finishing 1-3 overall after a 6-2 start to the season.
Marshall is 10-2 all-time in bowl games and has won its last five bowl games in a row dating back to 2009. The Herd’s 83.3 winning percentage in bowl games is tops in the FBS.
The Rams are 6-10 all-time in bowl games having lost each of their last three bowl games dating back to 2014 with their last bowl win coming in 2013. Current head coach Mike Bobo has yet to win a bowl game with Colorado State in two attempts.
The Herd and the Rams have never met on the football field and while this will be Marshall’s first ever appearance in the New Mexico Bowl, Colorado State has played in this bowl two times before, winning both games in 2008 and 2013 respectively.
The odds favor the Rams heading into this game and they are currently 5.5-point favorites over the Herd and ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Colorado State a 59.6 percent chance to get the win over Marshall.
A key matchup to look for in this game will be which team wins the turnover margin. On the season, Colorado State is dead even in turnover margin. But on the Marshall side of things, the Herd is minus-six in turnover margin on the season.
In the games the Herd won, it was plus-six in turnover margin. But in the five games Marshall lost, it was minus 12. Whichever team wins the turnover margin has a great chance to get the win and one could make the argument that without turnovers, Marshall could be playing in a much different bowl game than the New Mexico Bowl.
Marshall and Colorado State both come into this game heading in similar directions. Both teams want to end the season on a high note and prove they are better than what the end of the regular season showed.
Another factor to keep in mind is the close losses these teams have. The Herd has three losses by eight total points and the Rams have two losses by seven points or less. Aside from the turnover margin, closing out a tight game could be a determining factor as well.
Bowl games can be springboards into the following season, and both Marshall and Colorado State hope a New Mexico Bowl win will carry over into the 2018 season as both teams hope to compete for a conference title.
The Herd and the Rams kickoff at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the game will be televised by ESPN.