When a smaller school plays a major program, it often receives a hefty paycheck for what is likely to be a one-sided affair. Sometimes the underdog pulls off a major upset—but that was not the case for New Mexico on Saturday.
UNM football received $1.1M to play against the Texas A&M Aggies—but probably feel like the paycheck was a little bit light after getting roughed up on national television.
The Lobos (3-7, 1-5 MW) dropped the contest 55-14, though the score probably could've been worse if the Aggies didn't take their foot off the gas in the second half.
Texas A&M scored touchdowns on its first six offensive possessions—and added another on special teams with a punt return for a score—and improved to 6-4 overall to become bowl eligible. It also snapped a two-game losing streak, and could be an important victory, considering the team will finish the regular season on the road against two SEC opponents.
The Aggies wasted no time getting on the board first with a 60-yard touchdown pass on the second offensive play of the game. Quarterback Nick Starkel connected with Christian Kirk for the score, though the point after was no good, making the score 6-0.
New Mexico surrendered another touchdown after going three-and-out; the second one being a long, methodical drive with the Aggies capping a 13-play, 81-yard drive with another touchdown pass from Starkel.
Senior quarterback Lamar Jordan drove the Lobos into Aggie territory and had the team in position for a possible field goal try, but was sacked on third down for a big loss and the team was forced to punt again. And the Aggies drove right down the field again to make the score 20-0.
New Mexico appeared to get a big play after kickoff returner Elijah Lilly took one to the house to cut the deficit to 20-6. But review confirmed the runner's knee touched the ground at the UNM 39-yard line and the score was wiped away.
He eventually did find the end zone on a 100-yard kickoff return just before the end of the half, but by then the game was already out of reach with Texas A&M holding a 48-7 advantage.
The kickoff return was one of the lone bright spots in the game, and extended New Mexico's streak of consecutive seasons with a return to eight.
Starkel seemed to have an easy go of things, completing 21 of his 30 passes for 414 yards and four touchdowns—all in the first half. Conversely, UNM had three quarterbacks combine to throw for just 24 yards for the game. New Mexico has not passed for a touchdown since Oct. 20 against Colorado State.
Things seemed to slow down in the second half with both teams finding the end zone one time. UNM cut the lead to 48-14 when running back Daryl Chestnut capped a 14-play drive with a 3-yard plunge to score. It was the first rushing touchdown for a running back since Owens accomplished the feat in the third quarter of the Colorado State game three weeks ago.
But Texas A&M responded right away with a touchdown drive to make the score 55-14, which ended up being the final score.
It was the third time this season the Lobos have lost to a team with the "Aggie" moniker, previously falling to New Mexico State and Utah State.
New Mexico will return home to host UNLV on short rest. The game, which will also mark "senior night," will take place on Friday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball, football and tennis. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.