Utah State capped off arguably the best season in program history with an emphatic win against North Texas on Saturday. The Aggies walked away with a 52-13 victory in a surprisingly dominating New Mexico Bowl performance.
Utah State never trailed in the game. The Mean Green were forced to play catch up all day, but couldn’t generate any momentum and let a tenth win on the season slip away. With Matt Wells’ departure from the Utah State sideline, many thought that North Texas might put a damper on successful Aggie season. They did not.
New Mexico Bowl Game Recap
Simply put, it was a blowout. Within the first minute of play the Aggies were able to score a 70-yard touchdown. That set the tone for the game and they never looked back. The game appeared all but over by the end of the first half as the Aggies held a 31-point lead heading into the locker room. Essentially, this game came down to one team having a far better offensive performance than the other.
Utah State Offense
The Aggies were favored by eight points coming into this game. The team who has taken so much pride in their offensive efficiency was otherworldly against North Texas. They took anything that they wanted and refused to let off the gas until the game was over. Their dominant performance started in the first quarter, but the second quarter is where the game was won. They scored three times within a five minute span in the decisive quarter. Utah State added a field goal as time expired in the half for good measure.
Needless to say, their explosive offense, led by Jordan Love, was far superior to the North Texas defense.
Love was unquestionably the player of the game. He seemed unstoppable aside from his one interception. For the day, Love completed 21 of 43 passes for 359 yards and four passing touchdowns. Although the dual-threat quarterback was held in check in the running game, he was still able to get one rushing score. That brought his season total to five rushing touchdowns. Love’s accuracy on long throws down the field is what set him apart in this game. The sophomore quarterback had three touchdowns of 30 yards or more, including one for 67 yards and another for 72 yards.
There’s plenty of accolades to go around, though. The Utah State offensive line only gave up one sack and gave Love plenty of time to throw. Gvie the men up front the credit they deserve.
Utah State Defense
The Utah State defense also helped in sealing this huge victory. They had four interceptions and made each of the four North Texas quarterbacks force throws. The Aggies are not necessarily known for their stout defense; however, Saturday’s performance made them look like an SEC powerhouse against an FCS foe.
North Texas Offensive Woes
Seth Littrell has done a fine job at North Texas, but Saturday marked the third straight season where an ugly bowl loss ended the Mean Green’s season.
There were many people who believed that North Texas had the offensive weapons and firepower to upset the favored Aggies. However, once North Texas lost junior quarterback Mason Fine to injury early in the game, those hopes disappeared. Fine was one of the top players in Conference USA this year and was looking to have a big game against Utah State. The Mean Green went through three different quarterbacks after Fine in order to find his in-game replacement. None of the quarterbacks had much success as Kason Martin was the only quarterback who performed decently.
Martin completed 7 of 12 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. As for the other two quarterbacks, they combined for 24 yards on 2 of 10 passing and four interceptions. In the ground game, Anthony Wyche led the Mean Green with 53 yards. No one was able to get a rhythm and it showed.
Overall, this lopsided bowl blowout came down to Fine’s injury. He was unquestionably their leader and straw that stirred this offense. Unfortunately, North Texas couldn’t adjust. Rico Bussey Jr., who was the North Texas leading receiver for the season, was unable to suit up for the game as he was still dealing with his injury. Missing these two key players brought the North Texas offense to a screeching halt.
With North Texas missing their key cog, and in spite of Utah State missing their season-long head coach, the New Mexico Bowl, and the fans watching, missed out on the excitement of a close game.
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