The Rio Grande Rivalry to the players for New Mexico and New Mexico State is more than a game. It's a match up of contrasting schools. New Mexico Stateis a school that witnessed New Mexico's conference pilfer the top teams from their conference leaving them without a home or an invite.
During the last set of conference realignment the Mountain West Conference took the Western Athletic Confrence's top teams forcing the conference to scrap football and left the Aggies to go independent before finding a temporary home in the Sun Belt, their fate will be decided in 2017 but the move cost the Aggies money as the WAC Non-BCS power Boise State was a money Maker for the WAC.
The movement means a lot to this rivalry as even though the Lobos are in the bottom of the Mountain West in earnings it is still significantly larger than what the Aggies who struggle to break even with their football program.
For the Lobos, the rivalry is about proving that they are the bigger dominate school in the state, while the Aggies who are in a smaller conference and have a smaller athletic budget it's about showing they belong on the field as their rival. While New Mexico is not a national powerhouse they have won 11 out of the last 15 meetings against the Aggies, three of the Lobos four losses during that time period came during the Mike Locksley era in which the Lobos won three total games in three years, overall the Lobos lead the series 69-31-5.
New Mexico will be led by Lamar Jordan and potent rushing attack that is ranked 15th in the nation. Jordan who had is coming off a good game at Wyoming in which he rushed an threw for over 100 yards sparked the Lobos and put some distance between him and backup Austin Apodaca. Against the Cowboys the Lobos were able to flash their big play offense with multiple big touchdown. The Lobos who have struggled with bigger opponents like Tulsa and ASU have showed this year that they have good athletes and should dominate teams like New Mexico State who are still rebuilding in Doug Martins third year as head coach.
Against Wyoming the Lobo defense played a good first quarter but was shredded by the Cowboys in the final three quarters giving up 28 points. Against the Aggies the defense really needs to work, while this is a game the Lobos should win NMSU does have playmakers and any team with confidence is trouble. The Aggies rank 26th in the nation in passing and quarterback Tyler Rodgers can make the Lobos pay if they fall asleep.
New Mexico comes into the game a 12.5 point favorite and they should win the game but if they look past the Aggies they could find themselves on the wrong side of an upset. The Lobos should win this game by two or more touchdowns which would put them three games away from reaching bowl eligibility.