Expert Cappers Picks
College Football
Preview
Utah State vs North Texas
When: 2:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 15, 2018
Where: Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico



NEW MEXICO BOWL STORYLINES

1. Utah State begins life without coach Matt Wells when it takes on North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 15 in Albuquerque. Wells, the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year who bolted for Texas Tech on Nov. 30, went 44-34 - 2-2 in bowl games - in six seasons with the Aggies, marking the school's most successful stretch in more than 50 years. "This is a tremendous opportunity for our program," Utah State interim coach Frank Maile said in a news release. "It is a fantastic reward for all of the hard work and dedication that our players have put in, from all the offseason workouts, to watching film to the practice field. I am so happy for them."

2. The Aggies were ranked as high as No. 13 in the USA Today Coaches Poll before ultimately falling to No. 23 with a fortunate victory at Colorado State followed by a 33-24 loss at No. 24 Boise State on Nov. 24 that prevented it from playing in the MWC title game. Utah State is third nationally in scoring at 47.2 points per game with North Texas 21st with a school-record 36.4 as each school's quarterback enjoyed a monster season. Aggies sophomore Jordan Love completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 3,208 yards with 28 touchdowns and five interceptions while Mean Green junior Mason Fine completed 64.6 percent for 3,734 yards with 27 TDs and five picks.

3. North Texas and Utah State enter with spotty bowl records with each team losing last season. The Mean Green are 3-7 after a 50-30 loss to Troy in the New Orleans Bowl while the Aggies fell to 4-8 with a 26-20 setback to New Mexico State in the Arizona Bowl. Utah State has played in one New Mexico Bowl - a 21-6 victory over UTEP in 2014 which marked its last postseason victory.

TV: 2 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Utah State -10

ABOUT UTAH STATE (10-2, 7-1 Mountain West Conference): Love's favorite target is senior wide receiver Ron'quavion Tarver, who hauled in 62 catches for 676 yards and seven touchdowns. Junior running backs Darwin Thompson (951 yards, 14 TDs) and Gerold Bright (785, eight) power the rushing game, although the tandem was held to a combined 206 yards and zero touchdowns in the last two contests. The defense is led by sophomore linebacker David Woodward, who was named a first-team All-American by Pro Football Focus after recording 124 tackles - 12.5 for loss - to go along with five sacks, four quarterback hurries, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

ABOUT NORTH TEXAS (9-3, 5-3 Conference USA): Junior wide receiver Rico Bussey Jr. (68 catches, 1,017 yards), whose 12 touchdown catches are tied for seventh nationally, left the Mean's Green last game - a 24-21 victory at Texas-San Antonio on Nov. 24 - with an apparent hamstring injury. If Bussey is unable to play or is slowed, Fine can turn to other wideouts such as junior Jalen Guyton and sophomore Jaelon Darden, who combined for 96 receptions for 1,269 yards and nine TDs. North Texas also boasts a potent ground attack led by sophomore DeAndre Torrey, who has exploded for 614 of his 942 yards and seven of his 14 TDs on the ground in the last four games while adding his two receiving scores during that span.



PREDICTION: Utah State 35, New Mexico 24
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Utah State 10-2 L1 47.2 23.0 6-0 4-2 1-1 1-0 7-1
North Texas 9-3 W2 36.4 21.8 5-1 4-2 1-0 1-0 5-3
Last Meeting
Utah State North Texas
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
10/9/04 UNT 31 USU 23 369 79 290 343 259 84
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Utah State T. Cox 55.0 290 1 4
North Texas S. Hall 41.7 84 1 0
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Utah State P. Shields 8 21 2.6 0
North Texas J. Thomas 38 256 6.7 2
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Utah State T. Pennyman 8 117 14.6 0
North Texas J. Mitchell 1 42 42.0 0
Touchdowns Player TD
Utah State T. Cox 1
North Texas J. Thomas 2
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Utah State J. Love 65.8 3208 28 5
North Texas M. Fine 64.6 3734 27 5
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Utah State D. Thompson 132 951 7.2 14
North Texas D. Torrey 161 942 5.9 14
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Utah State R. Tarver 62 676 10.9 7
North Texas R. Bussey Jr. 68 1017 15.0 12
Touchdowns Player TD
Utah State D. Thompson 16
North Texas D. Torrey 17
Quickchart Matchup
Utah State Utah State Off vs  North Texas North Texas Def
Utah State 493.8 yards
North Texas 359.5 yards
Utah State 5.6 yards/rush
North Texas 3.3 yards/rush
Utah State 8.2 yards/attempt
North Texas 6.9 yards/attempt
North Texas North Texas Off vs  Utah State Utah State Def
North Texas 472.8 yards
Utah State 385.2 yards
North Texas 4.5 yards/rush
Utah State 3.6 yards/rush
North Texas 8.1 yards/attempt
Utah State 6.8 yards/attempt