I attended the 2010 New Mexico Bowl game at University Stadium in Albuquerque on Saturday, December 18, which game pitted BYU against the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). I'd originally planned to go with Darren and had purchased two tickets for that purpose; however, Chad and JoAnn Twitchell came into town for their son Paul's graduation from UNM, and I gave my ticket to Curtis Twitchell so that he and Darren could spend time together. Thus I was expecting to watch the game on TV; however, Bye and Denise Manning, friends who once lived in our ward (but who have now lived in their hometown of Kirtland, NM for the last sixteen years), came down for the game and had an extra ticket because Bye's father had fallen ill and couldn't make the trip. They called to ask if I wanted to go, and of course I did (although I drove down with Darren and Curtis -- we ended up parking at a hotel on Gibson and University and walking to the stadium from there). Bye is a big BYU fan -- which I've always found slightly intriguing because he got his degree at UNM -- and they actually hold several season tickets for BYU home games. (Needless to say, it's a significantly shorter drive from Kirtland to Provo than from Albuquerque to Provo.) He had a lot of inside information on the BYU team and individual players, which made watching the game more interesting to me.
Anyway, the Cougars throttled UTEP pretty good in the game, winning 52-24. BYU's program looks to be on the upswing, given (a) the fact that they started the season 1-4 but won six of their last eight games (and they would have beaten Utah but for some freak mistakes and one very bad non-reversal by the replay official that left even the TV announcers speechless), and (b) the fact that they had so many freshman and sophomore starters this year. Next year BYU goes independent in football, meaning it's free to schedule whomever, whenever, and can negotiate its own television-broadcast and bowl-game deals and not have to share the revenue with other conference members. We may not ever see BYU's football team play in Albuquerque again, but, between ESPN and BYU-TV, at least we should be able to see all of their games on television.
I took the attached photo with my cell phone after the game, as a crowd was gathering for the awards ceremony. Darren and Curtis were already down on the field, and I then went down to find them, which enabled us to exit the stadium in the direction of our car. Later, the three of us (along with Dorine) met up with the Mannings to have a late lunch at Rudy's Barbecue on Carlisle. Dorine commented on the fact that as she walked into Rudy's, various UTEP fans were walking out, whereas BYU fans were just arriving, which sounds about right -- the UTEP side of the stadium started emptying well before the game ended.