New Mexico badly needed a win here to keep its postseason hopes alive, and responded by absolutely blowing up New Mexico State in the latest iteration of the Rio Grande Rivalry. The Lobos' 66-17 victory was their 67th win in the series in 104 meetings between the two schools. It's the largest margin of victory since 2001, when New Mexico beat the Aggies 53-0.
From the start, New Mexico had full control of the contest, bolting out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter courtesy of running back Kasey Carrier. The senior had 126 yards and three scores on just 14 carries, and even got to take it easy for much of the latter half of the game. Quarterback Cole Gautsche also joined him over the 100-yard mark, tallying 127 himself on just 12 runs. In total, 11 different Lobos players rushed for 541 yards on the ground and scored seven touchdowns.
On the Aggies' side, the box score shows a much more impressive effort than the actual result. Racking up yards in garbage time, they had 451 total yards on the game, but also suffered from three turnovers. The NMSU offense really didn't get going until the second quarter, and even then, New Mexico met them on every score, taking a 42-14 lead into the break. New Mexico's defense buckled down in the second half, holding them to just a field goal the rest of the way. State was able to move the ball, but simply could not punch it in, making for a demoralizing final 30 minutes.
For the Lobos, it's encouraging to see this many players get involved in the running game beyond just Carrier, and stunning to see all 11 rushers average more than five yards per carry. Obviously it's been their bread and butter all season, but not like this. New Mexico ran just 64 plays total and threw just eight passes. The attack was lethal and State simply had no answer for it from start to finish.
A big win like this comes at the perfect time in the season for the Lobos. Coming off two tough losses, this was essentially a must-win for their bowl hopes, along with the typical motivations of this rivalry. At 2-3, and with what looks like a wide-open Mountain Division now, they still have plenty to play for. Obviously six wins in the short-term goal, but if this helps spark some momentum for something more, there won't be any complaining in Albuquerque. Closing out a highly productive career, Carrier in particular would love his first and only chance at the postseason -- even if he has to carry the team on his back to get there.