Forget the wacky bowl situation that is confusing college football fans everywhere. New Mexico coach Rocky Long says it's a successful season for his team, bowl game or not.
Marcus Smith caught a 63-yard touchdown pass from Donovan Porterie, and Rodney Ferguson had 117 yards rushing, as New Mexico ended the regular season with a 27-6 win over UNLV on Saturday night in Albuquerque.
"We won, and every win is a good win," Long said. "Maybe it's a successful season. Depends on your attitude. Around here, eight wins is a big deal."
A big deal, indeed.
The Lobos (8-4, 5-3 Mountain West) reached the eight-win mark for just the fourth time since two-platoon football began in 1965. It's the second time in 10 years under Long and the ninth eight-win season in the program's 109-year history.
"When you look at the history of this program, eight wins is a pretty big deal," Long said.
Now the Lobos must wait to see if any bowl committees offer a postseason invitation. Unfortunately for New Mexico, those victories don't guarantee one of the Mountain West's four bowl slots.
"If we get left out, it will be heartbreaking for the seniors and, really, for all the players," Smith said. "You don't usually see many teams at 8-4 that get left out. That would be disappointing."
Smith had a big night, returning the second-half kickoff 82 yards, setting up a 1-yard TD plunge by Ferguson for a 24-6 lead.
"I thought I was gone," Smith said. "I didn't even see the kicker when I broke through the first wave. There was all this green grass, then he came up. I had to make him miss, but I got caught from behind."
Smith also had eight receptions for 130 yards, and Porterie was a sluggish 18-of-32 for 199 yards passing. Kicker John Sullivan made two 45-yard field goals, boosting his national-best total to 26 on the season.
Receiver Travis Brown added another TD on a 26-yard reverse in the second quarter.
Now, it's on to some score-watching for Long and his team.
The Lobos monitored TCU's game at San Diego State late Saturday, needing an Aztecs win so TCU would be 6-6 and New Mexico would land a bowl. No six-win team can be picked over a conference rival with a better overall record.
"I'm a big-time Aztecs fan right now," Long said after his team won.
However, TCU improved to 7-5 after beating San Diego State 45-33.
Another assist for New Mexico's chances was Fresno State's 45-29 win over Kansas State, denying the Big 12 school a victory that would have made it bowl eligible. That could open an at-large slot in the Texas Bowl, for example.
It's also possible the Lobos could be left out.
"Sure, and I said that when we had a chance to go 9-3," Long said. "We could have been 7-5 and got to go to a bowl game. There's a lot of things that have to work out. But, yeah, I think an 8-4 team could be left out."
TCU 45, SAN DIEGO ST. 33: At San Diego, Joseph Turner ran for a career-high 226 yards and four touchdowns to lead TCU. Turner helped the Horned Frogs (7-5, 4-4 Mountain West) overcome San Diego State's 17-0 first-quarter lead. He scored his first touchdown on a 5-yard run late in the second quarter to give TCU its first lead of the game at 21-17. Turner then added TD runs of 9, 14 and 41 yards in the third quarter as the Horned Frogs took a 42-27 lead.