San Diego State definitely needed a win to remain in the West Division race, while New Mexico was struggling to hold onto its own postseason hopes Saturday night. Lucky for the Aztecs, they were able to come out on top. After scoring within the first minute of the game, SDSU managed to hold off the Lobos en route to a huge conference win. San Diego State, while they led for nearly the entire game, could just never pull away from the Lobos.
State quarterback Quinn Kaehler was 16-of-21 passing for 201 yards and two touchdowns on the night, including the initial score to Ezell Ruffin just a few seconds in. And while the offense set the initial tone, it was the defense that truly come up big as the game's seconds waned.
The Aztecs never trailed against New Mexico, though they battled late touchdowns by Teriyon Gibson and Tyler Duncan, respectively, in the fourth quarter. All in all, the Aztecs defense continually answered the bell, putting a stop to late UNM drives and allowing SDSU to keep some distance between the two teams.
Kaehler managed to stay mistake free, but it was the Aztecs' Adam Muema who really stole the show. The junior managed 233 yards on just 27 carries, and scored three touchdowns on top of that. In a battle of two of the Mountain West Conference's best running backs (Muema and UNM's Kelsey Carrier), the former won in convincing fashion. Controlling the line of scrimmage, he set the terms of the run game and just consistently pounded the Lobos' line.
With the victory, San Diego State moves to 4-4 on the season, with a 3-1 record in the Mountain West. On the other hand, New Mexico is a mediocre 2-6, without a conference victory to their name. San Diego State scored a huge win for the program's bowl hopes in 2013, while New Mexico is teetering on the brink of being eliminated all together. Still plenty of football left to play, of course. But the Aztecs are really the ones who've managed to rebound from an abysmal start. Since the 0-3 onset to 2013, San Diego State is 4-1. They'll need two losses by Fresno State to become a factor in the West divisional race, though they certainly can't be pointed out for not trying either.
San Diego State's next game is up against San Jose State, while the Lobos face off with Air Force.