Whenever a new season begins, one of the first things New Mexicans do is look to see when the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University square off. This year it is the second game of the season as the Lobos (1-0) head south on Interstate 25 to take on the Aggies (0-1).
As these are the two largest universities in the Land of Enchantment, this game will garner the attention of much of the state population and steal the late summer spotlight away from the state question, "red or green chile?"
What we know after the first game of the season is that UNM's offense can be downright potent and capable of big plays. In their 48-21 victory over South Dakota in their season opener, the Lobos racked up 615 total yards of offense with Teriyon Gipson running all over the Coyotes to the tune of 181 yards on 8 carries. Interestingly, quarterback Lamar Jordan did not get off the bench as head coach Bob Davie opted to go with Austin Apodaca. The senior quarterback did not disappoint: an efficient 12/16 passing for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Will Davie continue to trust him going forward?
UNM may have a commanding lead on their all-time series on the Aggies at 70-31-5, but these games are usually close until the end. Such was the case last year when the Lobos had to comeback in the fourth quarter to win 38-29. I expect another close game tomorrow night.
Lobo fans may very well remember Larry Rose III. Last year the NMSU running back shredded the Lobos defense with 260 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He is back, and a year better. Rose III will do his damage, but can he get any help? The Aggies will need a big game from QB Tyler Rogers. Three of his four top receivers from last year are back, so he has familiar targets.
The good news for UNM fans is that the Aggies had bad run defense last year. They brought in former Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani to right the ship. He may do that in time, but if last week is any indication, the Aggies aren't there yet. They gave up 249 rushing yards to UTEP back Aaron Jones. This bodes well for the Lobos who will use the triple option to run, run, and run some more.
In short, this will be a great game to watch, but the Lobos will win this game and improve to 2-0. Their run game is too good for NMSU's new defense and as they are finding more balance with their passing game, they should be able to dissect their opposition.
This game kicks at 6 p.m. MT on WatchESPN and ESPN3.