E.A. Sports Today

‘You made history’

Jacksonville State falls to New Mexico State on game-ending field goal, but outcomes from other games leave bowl spots available for transitioning Gamecocks. (Includes scores to watch)

Cover photo: Jacksonville State’s Perry Carter reaches to catch a pass during the Gamecocks’ Conference USA game at New Mexico State on Saturday. (Photo by Brandon Phillips/Jax State)

Scores to watch

Eastern Michigan 24, Buffalo 11 — EMU (6-6)
Louisiana 52, Louisiana-Monroe 21 — ULL (6-6)
Marshall 35, Arkansas State 21 — Marshall (6-6)
Northern Illinois 37, Kent State 27 — NIU (6-6)
Old Dominion 25, Georgia State 24 — ODU (6-6)
Rice 24, Florida Atlantic 21 — Rice (6-6)
Syracuse 35, Wake Forest 31 — Syracuse (6-6)
Central Florida 27, Houston 13 — UCF (6-6)
Utah State 44, New Mexico 41, OT — Utah State (6-6)
Virginia Tech 55, Virginia 17 — Va. Tech (6-6)
South Florida 48, Charlotte 14 — South Florida (6-6)
Cal 33, UCLA 7: Cal (6-6)
SMU 59, Navy 14 — Navy (5-6) plays Army (5-6) on Dec. 9.
Oklahoma State 40, BYU 34 — BYU (5-7)
Toledo 32, Central Michigan 17 — CMU (5-7)
Northwestern 45, Illinois 43 — Illinois (5-7)
Wisconsin 28, Minnesota 14 — Minnesota (5-7)
Ole Miss 17, Miss. State 7 — MSU (5-7)
Iowa 13, Nebraska 10: Nebraska (5-7)
Oklahoma 69, TCU 45 — TCU (5-7)
Washington 24, Washington State 21 — WSU (5-7)
Florida State 24, Florida 15 — Florida (5-7)
Clemson 16, South Carolina 7 — South Carolina (5-7)
Hawai’i 27, Colorado State 24 — CSU (5-7)

Key links: Statistics from Jax State’s 20-17 loss at New Mexico State; and Conference USA bowl tie-ins.

Jacksonville State went to Las Cruces hoping to claim Conference USA’s second best record in the Gamecocks’ first Conference USA season.

Joe Medley, Editor

They left exactly where they were when they arrived … an eight-win Football Bowl Championship Subdivision team with very real bowl prospects.

The aspiration and realization far exceeded preseason expectations for Jax State’s first FBS season, and relief has followed the wait to see if the transitioning Gamecocks get to play bonus football.

There will be bowl spots open for bowl-eligible Jax State.

That’s the bottom line after Jax State fell 20-17 at New Mexico State on Ethan Albertson’s game-ending, 42-yard field goal.

Second-year Rich Rodriguez was his usual short self after a loss. He’d seen his team come back from a 17-3 hole to tie the game on Alen Karajic’s 27-yard field goal with 43 seconds left, only to lose Trent Hudson on a 37-yard, Diego Pavia pass to set up the game-winning field goal.

Grumpy RichRod saw Zion Webb throw two interceptions, one in the end zone, on a day when New Mexico State spied Jax State’s quarterback to keep him from running.

BleepRod saw Karajic push a 36-yard try wide right in the second quarter.

Jax State’s fourth loss played out like at least two others this season, with enough could’ve-beens to believe that a better-than-expected transition season could’ve finished at least one win deeper into fantasy land.

The Gamecocks came away with no cause to claim second place in CUSA. They finished a victory away from saying they should’ve had a berth in the conference title game, not an NCAA waiver away from said claim.

Still, it changed nothing toward Jax State’s bottom line. The Gamecocks went to Las Cruces having surpassed the standard for bowl eligibility. The Gamecocks left that way, and the wait for outcomes in later games brought relief for bowl-hopeful Jax State.

Going into this week’s action, 67 teams had achieved eligibility for one of 82 bowl slots, not counting transitioning Jax State and James Madison. Twenty-four games involved teams seeking the six-win bowl standard, and 12 teams improved to 6-6 with one late game yet to reach completion.

Navy (5-6) lost to SMU and plays Army (5-6) on Dec. 9, after Dec. 3 bowl selections. Two of Army’s victories came against Football Championship Subdivision competition.

Three bowl spots will remain unfilled, meaning there will be openings for Jax State and James Madison.

“Bowl” in Football Bowl Subdivision looks very real for the Gamecocks in their first FBS season.

Thanks to a video posted to the Jax State Football Facebook social media feeds, we get to see the moment Rodriguez informed the team Saturday night.

“I’m still pissed about the game,” he said over the intercom, during the Gamecocks’ plane ride home. “I’m even more pissed after watching the film. I didn’t want our seniors to go out like that, but guess what. You don’t have to, because you’re going to a bowl. …

“You made history, guys!”

Bowl destination?

I’m not in the bowl projections game. There are too many possibilities for Jax State, but Birmingham or Montgomery makes the most sense for school and bowl.

Bowls want attendance, and Jax State fans want to witness their program making history. Problem is, Jax State is a new FBS program. Its fan base is not in the habit of budgeting a bowl trip.

Too, there was no expectation of this in preseason, and no certainty until after the regular season’s final week. Jax State fans haven’t had much chance to save.

Proximity gives as many Jax State fans as possible the best chance to witness their first-year FBS program playing in the program’s first-ever FBS bowl.

Jax State-NMSU updates

A chronological look at key happenings in Jax State’s 20-17 loss at New Mexico State on Saturday:


–Jamoni Jones in with a 1-yard TD as New Mexico State makes good on the game’s opening drive. Ethan Albertson’s PAT is good at 8:12. Drive: 13 plays, 65 yards, 6:48, and a face-masking penalty on Jax State helped that cause. NMSU 7, JAX STATE 0

–Diego Pavia throws an 11-yard TD pass to Trent Hudson, and PAT is good at 2:28. Drive: 8 plays, 83 yards, 4:15. NMSU 14, JAX STATE 0

–Holding penalty and sack scratch a promising drive for Jax State, and Jack Dawson punts NMSU to its 1-yard line.


–Alen Karajic gets Jax State on the board with a 33-yard field goal at 7:09. Drive: 5 plays, 41 yards, 1:21. NMSU 14, JAX STATE 3

–Quae Drake comes up with a fumble recovery at Jax State’s 26.

–Zion Webb’s 38-yard completion to a leaping Perry Carter gets Jax State in position, but Karajic misses a 36-yard field goal wide right.

–Albertson hits a 27-yard field goal to end the half. NMSU 17, JAX STATE 3


–An exchange of interceptions, with Jeremiah Harris getting the last one and returning deep into NMSU territory.


–Jax State can’t convert for a TD, so Karajic hits a short field goal at 14:52. NMSU 17, JAX STATE 6

–Jax State gets to NMSU’s 15, but Webb’s pass to the end zone on third and goal is intercepted. Just overshot Sean Brown, and Dylan Early with the easy catch on a ball right to him.

–Lattimer comes up with an interception to spot Jax State at NMSU’s 22.

–Malik Jackson makes good with an 11-yard TD run, and Webb keeps for the conversion at 6:23. NMSU 17, JAX STATE 14

–On fourth down and five from NMSU’s 45, an Webb keeps to convert … with help from his big friends, who kept pushing. Got to Aggies’ 33. Trey Brown started the push.

–Webb throws would-be go-ahead TD to Malik Jackson in the end zone, but Webb was flagged for being over the line of scrimmage when he threw.

–Karajic hits a short field goal to tie the game with 0:46 left: JAX STATE 17, NMSU 17

–Pavia hits a deep pass to Jax State’s 28-yard line … 37 yards to Hudson.

–Albertson’s 42-yard field goal with no time left. NMSU 20, JAX STATE 17

FINAL: Jax State falls to New Mexico State 20-17, finishes regular season 8-4, awaits outcomes from other games to see if bowl slots are available.

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