LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) – New Mexico State (1-5) will be back in business this week when they face New Mexico (2-4, 0-3 Mountain West) in another edition of the Rio Grande Rivalry on Saturday, Oct. 15 at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
The Aggies are coming off their bye week and are hoping to get back into the win column after suffering a 21-7 loss against FIU on October 1st. The bye week was a well needed one for the head coach Jerry Kill and company.
“The biggest thing in this year is get our legs back,” said Kill. “We’re practicing three times faster than we have I think it’s the six games that we’ve gone through.”
“Especially with the bye week that we just recently had it was good to just get together as a team,” said NM State linebacker Chris Ojoh. “More rehab, taking care of the body but overall, just come together and have that extra time to watch more film on the Lobos and just have more time as a team and work on the little details as far as like what we have to do mentally.”
The Aggies hope coming out of the bye week they can be back and better than before. NM State will aim to capture their second win of the season. The last Aggies’ win came against Hawai’i back on Sep. 24 at Aggie Memorial Stadium. That was the first win of the Jerry Kill era and 2022 season.
This game against New Mexico is one that New Mexico State can possibly steal a win in. After starting the season 2-1, the Lobos have lost their last three (LSU, UNLV, and Wyoming) games in a row.
The Lobos’ defense has been probably the best part of their game so far. The defense has registered 13 takeaways six games into the season. That has led them to be tied for 9th in the NCAA in that category. The defense is ranked 42nd in the NCAA in total defense (347.0). Their rushing defense (116.0) is ranked 31st in the NCAA and passing defense (231.1) is ranked at 71st. Now there is still six games left for the Lobos to play but these are some of the best numbers the team has put up in program history since the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
On offense, the Lobos are ranked 128th in total offense (259.7) in the NCAA. They are right below New Mexico State, who are ranked 127th in total offense (265.5) in the NCAA.
The Lobos have scored four touchdowns in the last two games. Three of those touchdowns were scored by quarterback Miles Kendrick. Kendrick so far this year has collected 700 passing yards, one passing touchdown, three rushing touchdowns, and six interceptions.
Something that may work to the advantage of New Mexico State is the recent firing of New Mexico’s offensive coordinator, Derek Warehime, on Sunday. Warehime served as UNM’s offensive coordinator and tight ends coach since 2020. Heath Ridenour, UNM’s current quarterbacks coach, will now serve as the interim offensive coordinator for the remainder of the season.
The Aggies will hope to stop the Lobos on Saturday and collect their second win of the season. It would be a big win for NMSU under their first-year head coach in Jerry Kill. It will be Kill’s and a number of staff and players’ first taste of the Rio Grande Rivalry, but they all know what this week will be all about.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of rivalry games. They’re all the same to me,” said Kill. “I remember growing up Kansas and Kansas State playing each other, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, Minnesota playing Wisconsin. That is what it is all about. We are in our own state, we’ve got two major colleges here and it is important, and our kids understand that. To me, it is like a big bowl game. We are playing for our pride, and we are playing for Las Cruces now.”
For junior quarterback Diego Pavia, the Rio Grande Rivalry is one that he is familiar with as he is from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“I’ve always paid attention to the rivalry just because it is my home state and I’d like to see good football being played,” said Pavia. “I know the last three years, New Mexico has won, so we’re just looking forward to getting after them.”
New Mexico is on a three-game win streak in the rivalry and has more wins over New Mexico State than any other opponent. This year’s game will be the 112th meeting between the two programs. New Mexico leads the all-time series 73-33-5.
New Mexico State and New Mexico will go head-to-head on the gridiron on Saturday, Oct. 15 at Aggie Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. MT.