On Sept. 11, the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University — home to the two major football programs in New Mexico and respective rivals — will face off for the first time since 2019.
The UNM-NMSU rivalry has been competitive recently, as UNM has been holding a 6-4 record against NMSU since the 2010-11 season. The last game these two teams played took place back in 2019, and ended in a 55-52 final score in favor of the Lobos for former head coach Bob Davie’s final win with the program.
Now, the Lobos hope to put together a streak after their win last Thursday against Houston Baptist University; the Aggies will be fighting for the first win of their season after a shellacking from the University of Texas at El Paso.
UNM will also look to build upon its impressive defensive outing against Houston Baptist, which saw the Lobos leave the game with the best rush defense in the Football Bowl Subdivision at -9 yards per game. Meanwhile, NMSU will try to bounce back from a loss to San Diego State University after leading the Aztecs 10-0 at halftime before giving up 28 second-half points in the second half, their second loss of the young season.
NMSU has struggled with their offense this year, so far only getting 6.5 points per game, as well as doing poorly in their rush defense, which has given up 225.5 yards per game.
NMSU quarterback Jonah Johnson has averaged 204 yards per game this season and had 326 yards against SDSU, but will be without star wide receiver Dominic Gicinto, who suffered a season-ending arm injury in early September.
While the Aggies have lost both of their games so far this season, UNM head coach Danny Gonzales believes that NMSU is a more formidable opponent than their record reflects. Gonzales said he saw a very physical team in NMSU in the first half when they played San Diego and also believes NMSU could have made their first game against University of Texas at El Paso more competitive.
“The score was lopsided; New Mexico State had two plays in the first that if they go the other way … it’s 20-17 at halftime instead of 20-3 and a completely different ball game,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said he believes in the power of a home crowd and is hoping that the Lobos can earn the 35,000-strong crowds of people that used to attend games regularly, especially against UNM’s biggest rival.
“(NMSU) coach (Doug) Martin and I are pretty good friends,'' Gonzales said. “But with that being said, I don’t like those guys; I don’t like New Mexico State.”
Spencer Butler is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SpencerButler48