They came not by the hundreds, but by the thousands, to see something special.

They came to celebrate not the end of another college football season, but the continuation of one  that extended past Christmas.

And many among the crowd of 26,268 came to Aggie Memorial Stadium last Saturday to see New Mexico State face South Alabama to witness something they had not seen in their life time.

And when the final seconds ticked off the clock and New Mexico State had secured a 22-17 victory, the fans rushed onto the field to celebrate.

Why was this such a big deal in the remote college football outpost of Las Cruces, New Mexico?

Well, the last time the Aggies played in a post season game was 57 years ago.

By beating South Alabama, New Mexico, which finished last season with a 3-9 record and had managed only 10 victories in Coach Doug Martin’s first four seasons as the Aggies coach, finished with a 6-6 record. making  it bowl eligible for the first time since 1960, which also meant that the longest bowl-less streak among the 128 FBS schools was about to come to an end.

“”It was crazy,” said former Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani with a laugh, “”people were coming out of the stands and just Thanking us.”

Spaziani has been part of Martin’s coaching staff (as his defensive coordinator) for the past two seasons. “”There were kids and parents who hadn’t seen New Mexico State go to a bowl game in their life time coming up and thanking us.”

On Sunday, it became official.  New Mexico State will meet Utah State on Dec. 29th in the Arizona Bowl in Tucson,  Arizona.

And here’s another bit of irony. The Aggies, who  will take a 2-0-1 bowl record into the game, last played in the 1960 Sun Bowl against–Utah State.

“”Sounds like a revenge game,” said Spaziani with laugh.

It also sounds like fun for the Aggies and reward for a much improved regular season, which is why New Mexico State is TMG’s Newsmaker of The Week.