ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — ESPN Events and the Gildan New Mexico Bowl announce that the UTEP Miners and the Utah State Aggies have accepted invitations to the ninth annual game to be played on Saturday, Dec. 20. The bowl game, featuring a program from Conference USA and the Mountain West, respectively, will kick off at 12:20 p.m. MT at University Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M. and air nationally on ESPN and ESPN Radio.
“I think we have another great matchup with two tremendous teams,” said Jeff Siembieda, Gildan New Mexico Bowl Executive Director. “It looks like we are set up for another exciting show at the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.”
Utah State, out of the Mountain West, is 9-4 overall and 6-2 in league action. The Aggies head into the postseason winning five of their last six. They boast a league-high 16 all-conference honorees, including the Defensive Player of the Year, Zach Vigil.
“We are really excited to have Utah State making their first appearance in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl,” Siembieda said. “They are a first-class program loaded with talent and have had a really nice season. We look forward to hosting the Aggies and their great fan base to Albuquerque for what should be a fun week.”
“We gladly accept the invitation to represent Utah State University and the Mountain West Conference in the 2014 Gildan New Mexico Bowl,” said second year Utah State head coach Matt Wells. “This bowl game is a great reward for our team and its accomplishments this year, and solidifies the strength of this program as we will be playing in our fourth-straight bowl game for the first time in school history.”
The Aggies are making their fourth straight bowl game appearance and second consecutive under head coach Matt Wells. Utah State has won its last two bowl games, taking the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, 41-15 over Toledo, and the 2013 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, 21-14 against Northern Illinois. Overall, the Aggies are 3-6 all-time in the postseason.
UTEP, representing Conference USA, is 7-5 overall and finished in a tie for second in league play with a 5-3 record. The Miners come to New Mexico on the momentum of a thrilling victory in front of 27,455 raucous fans at the Sun Bowl in their final game of the regular season, which ensured UTEP its first winning season since 2005. The Miners held off Middle Tennessee, 24-21, thanks to senior Jameel Erving’s first-career interception in a UTEP uniform and sophomore Aaron Jones’ sixth 100-yard rushing game of the season.
“It is with great pleasure that we welcome the UTEP Miners back to the Gildan New Mexico Bowl,” Siembieda said. “The Miners have been an exciting team all season and it’s been really fun to watch them. We look forward to a talented Miner team and their passionate fans coming to Albuquerque for what should be another great game.”
The Miners make their second appearance in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl but first under the guidance of second-year coach Sean Kugler. UTEP competed in the 2010 game as an at-large, falling 52-24 to the BYU Cougars in their final year as MW members. That was UTEP’s last postseason appearance, then under the tutelage of Mike Price. The Miners have lost five straight bowl games. Their last victory dates back to the 1967 Sun Bowl, topping Ole Miss, 14-7.
“We are excited to prepare for a quality UTEP team that had an outstanding season. Our staff has great respect for UTEP head coach Sean Kugler and the Miners team with the turnaround they accomplished this season,” added Wells.
This will not be the first match-up of this two storied programs. Utah State and UTEP opened the 1960 and 1961 seasons with the Aggies winning both. Against current members of the MW, UTEP is 7-6. Utah State is 13-15 overall versus current C-USA affiliates.
Tickets, which are on sale now, range from $25-$40 and can be purchased at the University of New Mexico Ticket Office located in The Pit, online at www.unmtickets.com, or by calling 925-LOBO or 925-5999.
ESPN Events, a subsidiary of ESPN, owns-and-operates 11 postseason bowl games.