New Mexico Lobos Football vs. New Mexico State Aggies
When/Where: 5 p.m., (MT) Saturday – Branch Field – University Stadium
TV: ROOT Sports (Comcast 261, DirecTV 683, Dish 414); Mountain West Network (game online subject to blackout within the ROOT Sports footprint)
Radio: Lobo Radio Network (770 KKOB-AM), ESPN Deportes (1450 KRZY-AM)
GoLobos.com: Game Story, Complete Statistics, LoboTV
Game Promotions: 10,000 glow-in-the-dark pom-poms will be distributed; John Misita's K('s in Flight Frisbee Dog Show during a 25-minute halftime (both events sponsored by Route 66 Casino Hotel); American Indian Day; Former Lobo football players will form lines for the team as it exits to take the field; coupons distributed for the UNM Bookstore and Sadie's Restaurant after the game.
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The New Mexico Lobos’ intentions for the New Mexico State Aggies have pretty much been cast in stone, fire and history.
The Lobos burned Pistol Pete in effigy on Thursday. The on-the-field fireworks drift back a couple of centuries to New Year’s Day 1894. This is civil war, football style, and the battle Saturday on Branch Field should be an emotion-packed rendition.
The importance of this game seems to be shared equally by all Lobos, but maybe a feel for the deep roots of this rivalry bonds strongest among Lobos from the Land of Enchantment.
For some of them, they were weaned on a North-South division of their state. You were either a Lobo or an Aggie. Pick one – not both.
If you lived in Roswell, most likely you were an Aggie. The community of around 50,000 is about two hours outside of Albuquerque in a Southeastern drift. It’s further South than Clovis and the northern point in a rough, geographical triangle formed by Carlsbad, Hobbs, Artesia, Roswell and Lovington.
UNM’s Andrew Aho grew up in Roswell. So did Lobo David Anaya.
“If I had to say, I’d say Roswell is more an Aggie town,” said Aho. “Maybe it’s because they are more to the South. No one I went to school with even considered coming to New Mexico. It was State (NMSU) and South. But my family grew up Lobos. I wanted a Lobo on my chest.”
Anaya felt the same way about the direction he wanted to head after high school. But he had more of a family push to go South.
“Roswell is big Aggie town,” said Anaya, who played at Roswell Goddard. “Two of my brothers went to New Mexico State.
“I can’t say playing State makes it more exciting or a bigger game because we prepare the same way. But you know you are playing for state bragging rights. The game has an in-town feel like when we used to play Roswell High. You are fighting to see who is the bigger brother.”
In Roswell, there are good reasons to head North to New Mexico and the decision probably is easier than, say, for someone who grew up in Las Cruces. Like UNM’s Dante Caro.
“You grow up in Cruces and you are pretty much an Aggie family,” said Caro, who played at Cruces High. “But once I got into high school I opened my mind up to other opportunities and UNM was a better place for me to play.
“I get a lot of joy from playing the Aggies. The Cruces crew I used to play in front of will be coming up here to watch their Aggies.”
Of course, the Aggies will be outnumbered in the stands. The Lobos have the same plan for when they run their option at the Aggies. It is an attack that leans heavily on reads and execution, but it is also an offensive thrust that hopes to win ground by placing more bodies around the football.
The Lobos average 324.5 yards per game which is good for the No. 3 spot in the nation. The Aggies are last in the nation in run defense and last in total defense. There doesn’t seem to be any question about the Lobos preferred mode of transporting the football.
But will the Aggies go out of the box in an attempt to slow down this running machine? Will the Aggies dare the Lobos to pass the ball?
Lobo senior Kasey Carrier is the nation’s No. 7 runner with a 139.8-yard average. Cole Gautsche runs this ‘Pistol’ option more like a senior than a sophomore. It is a daunting attack. It can eat up the clock as well as the ground.
The Lobos had 400 first-half yards a Saturday back against UNLV and three Lobo backs – Carrier, Gautsche and Carlos Wiggins – all cracked the 100-yard barrier. Wiggins had 263 all-purpose yards.
Most likely, the 0-5 Aggies will go heavily to the air and try to exploit the Lobos’ defense via the pass. NMSU played well for three quarters against UTEP and San Diego State, but faded in the final frame. The Aggies, much like the Lobos, are a team in search of depth.
Aggie Senior quarterback Andrew McDonald completes 68.4 percent of his passes and has six touchdowns against two interceptions. The Aggies need him to be sharp against the Lobos. The Lobos need to put McDonald into quick-decision situations. Joshua Bowen of Albuquerque Manzano High tops the NMSU receiving charts with 24 grabs for 243 yards.
There do not appear to be any mysteries about what the two teams need to do in order to be the state’s bigger brother on Saturday. The Lobos need to run the ball and stop the NMSU passing attack. NMSU averages only 106.6 yards rushing per game.
The Aggies need to pass well, hope for a little run supports, and try to do what most teams have not been able to do for the past two seasons:
Stop the UNM pistol.
Editor’s Note: Richard Stevens is a former award-winning Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.