ALBURQUERQUE — Marshall was the designated visiting team Saturday in the New Mexico Bowl against Colorado State and the fan demographics at Dreamstyle Stadium suggested the Rams felt right at home.
The official attendance was listed as 26,087 and CSU’s darker shade of green overwhelmed the Thundering Herd’s neon hue in the parking lot tailgates and on the bleachers, to little surprise of bowl organizers. The driving time from Denver to Albuquerque averaged about 6 hours. The drive from Marshall’s campus in Huntington, W. Va.? A more than 20-hour trek.
However, neither team fared very well in selling school-provided seats.
CSU distributed 1,556 tickets, including 295 player guests and 97 student passes, according to a school spokesman. Marshall provided its fan base roughly 1,000 tickets. Bowl and secondary market sales clearly boosted the overall attendance, but compared to previous New Mexico Bowls, the reported fan total (26,087) was still lacking.
- 2016 (UTSA vs. New Mexico): 29,688
- 2015 (Arizona vs. New Mexico): 30,289
- 2014 (Utah State vs. UTEP): 28,725
- 2013 (CSU vs. Washington State): 27,104
Rory Roth, 33, was among the Rams’ faithful who made the trip to Albuquerque. The 2005 CSU graduate and season ticket holder tailgated with a large group of green-and-gold fans in the parking lots east of the stadium.
“Last year, we went to the (Famous Idaho) Potato Bowl and it was pretty miserable,” Roth said. “This is much better, I think.”
Michael Ore, 51, of Huntington, W.V., flew in to Albuquerque to cheer on the Thundering Herd. This is the 19th state in which he’s watched the team play.
“We’ve got a pretty good fan base for the size of school that we are if it’s an east coast game,” Ore said. “But this is so far away.”
Serving suspensions. CSU was without four players through the first half on Saturday.
Three Rams — running backs Marvin Kinsey and Rashaad Boddie and defensive back Robert Awunganyi – were suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules, the university announced about three hours before kickoff.
Boddie, a redshirt freshman, had been the most productive of the players suspended this season with 44 carries for 254 yards and four touchdowns. Kinsey, a sophomore, had rushed for 124 yards on 26 carries with two touchdowns. Awunganyi had not recorded any tackles this season.
All three players were eligible to return after halftime, but collectively did not record statistics in the loss.
The Rams were also without starting redshirt junior linebacker Josh Watson for the first half. Watson, CSU’s leading tackler entering the game (103), was ejected for a targeting penalty in the fourth quarter against San Jose State during the regular-season finale that required he sit out the first half of his next game.
Watson finished the night six tackles, which tied for second-most among all Rams’ defenders.
Record watch. With a 9-yard catch early in the third quarter, CSU receiver Michael Gallup reached 97 receptions this season and climbed atop the program record book — surpassing the previous mark set by Rashard Higgins in 2014.