The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 5, 7:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: University Stadium (39,224) -- Albuquerque, New Mexico. Television: ROOT-NW, RM. Home Record: NMSU 0-3, UNM 0-2. Away Record: NMSU 0-2, UNM 1-1. Neutral Record: NMSU 0-0, UNM 0-0. Conference Record: NMSU 0-0, UNM 0-1. Series Record: New Mexico leads, 67-31-5.
GAME NOTES: Needing something to cheer about in the Land of Enchantment, the winless New Mexico State Aggies travel to Albuquerque this weekend to contend against the slumping New Mexico Lobos in non-conference action at University Stadium.
In previous years, perhaps the I-25 Rivalry took on much more meaning with better competition on both sides, but the truth of the matter is that neither school has been very good on the football field the last few years. It has become monumentally disappointing for the Aggies who, under new head coach Doug Martin, are not only winless in five outings this season, the team is also tied with Southern Miss for the longest overall slide in the country at 16 games.
NMSU, which hasn't posted a victory since opening 2012 with a positive outcome against Sacramento State (49-19), last took the field on Saturday and began with a 16-0 run before being set down by San Diego State at home by 10 points.
When it comes to playing on the road, NMSU has fallen in 12 consecutive matchups, tying the team for the second-longest active run in the country.
New Mexico, which is under the direction of second-year coach Bob Davie, has been giving up massive point totals already and even in their lone victory, the Lobos slipped by UTEP in overtime, 42-35. Last weekend, UNM opened Mountain West Conference play against a confident UNLV bunch and suffered a 56-42 defeat.
UNM captured a 27-14 win in last year's meeting, which means the squad is now ahead in the all-time series by a significant 67-31-5 margin.
The Aggies continue to limp along here in 2013, and last weekend they bowed to San Diego State, 26-16, at home. Believe it or not, New Mexico State actually led the game by double digits in the second quarter before the wheels began to fall off. It all began with a blocked PAT following a 15-yard TD pass from Andrew McDonald to Andrew Dean, and the team was never able to recover.
McDonald finished the meeting 23-of-35 for 228 yards and a pair of TDs, while being sacked three times. Because of those takedowns in the backfield, the Aggies were credited with just 40 net rushing yards, 268 total yards overall.
Davis Cazares, one of the top tacklers in the country, delivered a team-best 14 stops for the Aggies in the losing cause. Cazares, who has a team-best 32 solo tackles in five games, leads the group overall with 62 stops and is also responsible for two of the unit's interceptions, yet even that effort falls short of getting his team into the win column.
Cazares has been laying it on the line through the first month of the season, but still this is a team that is ranked almost dead last in the country in points allowed, 45.4 ppg. Giving up a staggering 300.8 ypg on the ground and 572.6 ypg overall, both of which are the worst in the FBS, means it matters very little what, if anything, the offense can muster.
Rarely does a team run for close to 500 yards in a single game. Even more rare does such an offensive explosion result in defeat, which is what happened to the Lobos in their 14-point home loss last weekend. The Lobos got 192 yards rushing from Kasey Carrier, 119 yards by Carlos Wiggins and 108 from quarterback Cole Gautsche, marking the first time in program history that three players eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the same outing.
UNM averaged 8.4 yards per carry and still lost by double digits to a team that had not won more than two games in any one of the previous three campaigns. Unfortunately, the Lobos again failed to pose a threat through the air, as Gautsche and Clayton Mitchem combined to hit on just 5-of-13 passes for 84 yards and a score.
Clearly the Lobos are built on running the ball this season, ranking third in the country with 324.5 ypg on the ground, but without a complementary passing attack, the effort clearly doesn't translate into wins.
With 559 rushing yards, Carrier usually garners most of the attention when he settles into the backfield for the Lobos, but even with the seventh-best runner in the country with an average of 139.8 ypg, New Mexico has plenty of other options to call on, rather than take chances with a sagging pass attack.
Rivalry games typically take on a life of their own, but no one can be sure how this one is going to play out, given how weak both defenses are right now. More than likely, the squad that controls the clock and tires out the other will be landing in the win column.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico 31, New Mexico State 24
10/02 10:32:54 ET