Lobo nation students set an oversized rendition of Aggie mascot Pistol Pete ablaze during a rally on Thursday night, and Aggie fans did the same to a Lobo figure—as has been the tradition for many years.
Lobo and Aggie fans alike should be ready for a game that is likely to draw the biggest crowd at Dreamstyle Stadium on Saturday—at least during the regular season.
New Mexico holds a 70-32-5 advantage in the all-time matchup, but things have been tightly contested as of late. The teams have split the last eight meetings and the three most recent games have been decided by single digits.
Last year, New Mexico blew a nine-point fourth quarter lead in Las Cruses, and New Mexico State emerged with a 32-31 upset victory.
In the Tuesday press conference, UNM head coach Bob Davie seemed to downplay the importance of last year’s loss to the Aggies.
Davie said New Mexico State’s roster is loaded with talent and the team has to “narrow the focus” and concentrate on the task at hand.
New Mexico State (0-1) opened its season with a 37-31 home loss to Arizona State, scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter to narrow the gap.
Tyler Rogers threw for nearly 400 yards, while the team also picked up 182 yards on the ground. Rogers threw two picks in the game, but also showed good efficiency on third down, converting 11 of the team’s 18 attempts.
NMSU also cashed in on both of its red zone attempts, but it was an area the Lobos defended well last week.
New Mexico (1-0) was victorious in its home opener, dispatching of Abilene Christian 38-14. Though the Lobos were stonewalled at the 1-yard line on their opening drive, the team scored in its other three red zone trips and also denied Abilene Christian its only scoring chance inside the 20.
The Lobos showed a pretty good balance of run and pass, but Davie acknowledged there is a lot of work that still needs to be done.
He said the offensive line is a work in progress and the staff will be looking to find the right combination to provide the crisp play the coaches are no doubt looking for.
New Mexico did not look especially sharp in the running game, but still managed 279 yards on the ground and also put up 222 yards through the air.
The teams are obvious familiar with each other, but Davie said in rivalry games the records really can be thrown out the window. He seemed to be more intent on getting his players to focus on themselves and the things they can control.
“Knowing your opponent is really important,” Davie said. “But I think knowing yourself is even more important than that.”
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball, football and tennis. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @robert_maler.