A record setting performance from a Ram fan favorite, the official rebirth of a football power and a national stage on which to do it all; all of these things went a long way toward helping the 2008 New Mexico Bowl earn the Moby Award for Game of the Year.
After a two-year absence from the college football bowl scene, the 2008 CSU football team earned the right to return after finishing the regular season 6-6 including back-to-back wins in their final two games. Debate raged for nearly a week about whether the Rams would actually be invited to join the Bowl party, but speculation stopped as it was announced that the Rams would face the Fresno State Bulldogs in the 2008 New Mexico Bowl.
The Rams kept the game close early, trailing only 21-20 going into halftime. Quarterback Billy Farris found tight end Kory Sperry for a remarkable 22-yard touchdown reception just before time expired in the second quarter, giving the Rams momentum going into the locker room.
Fresno State extended their lead early in the third quarter, but an epic performance from Ram running back Gartrell Johnson III was more than enough to give CSU the lead and the eventual win.
Johnson was simply stellar for the Rams on that day, posting 375 yards of total offense: an NCAA bowl record. The senior also added two touchdowns including a 77-yard burst late in the fourth quarter to put the game on ice and insuring a 40-35 CSU victory
As time expired, loyal Ram fans making the trip down to Albuquerque stormed the field, celebrating a bowl win and the official turnaround of a once-struggling football program.
In a post game press conference, Johnson explained just how much the New Mexico Bowl win would mean to the future of Rams football.
“It’s good for everyone,” Johnson, now a San Diego Charger said. “It’s good for the program; it’s good for coach Fairchild. It’s good for CSU as a whole. To have a great day like that and for us to just get a win sets the bar high for next season.”
Assistant Sports Editor Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.