New Mexico Lobos Football vs. New Mexico State Aggies
When/Where: 5 p.m., (MT) Saturday – Branch Field – University Stadium
On The Air: ROOT Sports (TV); 770-AM KKOB/Lobo Radio Network, ESPN Deportes (1450-AM)
GoLobos.com: Game Story, Complete Statistics, LoboTV
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
To appreciate the depth of this rivalry, to embrace the history of Lobos vs. Aggies, to understand the passion of this game, maybe you need to time travel back to 1893 – the year of the first New Mexico vs. New Mexico State football game.
Or was it the year leading up to the first Lobo/Aggie game which the record books show was played on Jan. 1 – 1894.
It was a tough year for the Lobos. They had to play the Albuquerque Town Team on Christmas Day and then had to battle the Aggies on New Year’s Day – and this wasn’t a New Year’s Day Bowl. The bowl system didn’t begin until the Rose Bowl of 1902.
Probably, there are some cobwebs to be dusted off on the early days of this UNM vs. NMSU rivalry. The New Mexico media guide has the Lobos going 1-1-1 the next season – 1894 – with all three games being played against the Albuquerque Indian School. The Aggie game notes say the Aggies beat the Lobos in 1894 by an 18-6 count.
But the issue here is the depth of these roots. This is one of the oldest rivalries in the history of college sports and the year leading up to the Jan. 1, 1894 game was an interesting one.
That was the year the Great Northern Railway connected Seattle with the East Coast. New Mexico was 19 years away from becoming a state. It was the year of the “Great Crash” on the New York Stock Exchange.
Ice cream soda was declared our national drink. The first Ferris Wheel made its debut in Chicago. Lizzie Bordon was acquitting of murdering her parents. New Zealand became the first country to allow women to vote in a national election and Katherine Lee Bates wrote “America The Beautiful.”
The Aggies made history that year because of a sad event. NMSU had to cancel its first graduation ceremony when its only graduate, Sam Steele, was robbed and killed the night before the ceremony.
The preferred mode of travel in 1893 was still the horse and buggy, but a new-fangled contraption on four wheels was catching on and showing promise due to German engineering and Henry Ford improving his gas motor.
Nabisco Foods introduces Cream Of Wheat and Thomas Edison opened the world’s first movie studio. “Gentleman Jim” Corbett was heavyweight champion of the world and Houdini was doing his magic thing.
On the football field that season, the New Mexico Lobos beat New Mexico State 25-5 and on Saturday at Branch Field the two programs meet for the 105th time. The Lobos lead the series 67-32-5.
If you do the math, you can see that this isn’t exactly an annual event. In the eight seasons from 1895 to 1902, the Lobos went six seasons without a varsity. The Aggies have been pretty much a fixture on the UNM schedule since 1905 when the Aggies handed the 5-1-1 Lobos their only loss. In 1908, UNM played its first game against a team outside the state – a 10-6 loss to Arizona in Albuquerque.
The first tie, 7-7, between Lobos and Aggies was played in 1914. The Aggies won 110-3 in 1917. Was that a painful loss? Maybe. The Lobos disbanded their varsity in 1918, but came back to beat the Aggies 24-2 in 1919.
The I-25 rivalry between Lobos and Aggies is a storied one and one of the purest in-state rivalries since there are only two major-college football teams in New Mexico. This is a war of turf, a war of bragging rights.
There are older college rivalries in the books – if you can believe the books. Kansas and Missouri began their war of the plains in 1891, but obviously it’s not an in-state battle. Michigan and Notre Dame first played in 1987 and Harvard and Yale date back to 1875.
You can go back to 1869 to find a Princeton vs. Rutgers game where each team had 25 players to a side. The longest series in the books is Wisconsin vs. Minnesota – 123rd time this season.
The Aggies go down as the Lobos’ oldest rivalry because a few of the earlier teams on the UNM schedule dropped out: Albuquerque High and the Albuquerque Indian School.
The Lobos played those two area powerhouses in 1893. The Lobos pounded the Bulldogs 4-0 and were spanked by Albuquerque Indian School 10-4. The season ended with that 25-5 win over NMSU.
UNM began football in 1892 and went 0-2 with both losses to Albuquerque High. You might be thinking the fickle Lobo community probably was calling for the coach to be fired for failing to come up with a winning strategy for the second game -- or not going to that new-fangled, no-huddle Flying Wedge.
But there was no firing. There was no contract buyout. There was no coach. The Lobos got their first coach in October of 1894: W.A. Zimmer. He stuck around for one season.
The Lobos’ rivalry resumed with NMSU in 1905, unless you go with the Aggies 18-6 win in the 1894 season. NMSU won 40-0 Nov. 30, 1905 in Las Cruces. The Aggies got the first sweep in the series by winning 25-5 in Albuquerque the next year. The Lobos swept back in 1908 and 1909.
The Lobos and the Aggies finally decided to make it an annual war in 1946. They have played every year since then.
The Bob Davie Lobos are 1-0 vs. NMSU with a 27-14 win last year in Cruces. The Aggies had a 3-0 run over Mike Locksley. UNM won eight of nine from 2000 to 2008.
UNM is 39-15-3 in Albuquerque vs. NMSU.
If you attend Saturday's rivalry, it might be appropriate to reflect back on the tradition and roots of this series. Bring your own Cream of Wheat.
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.