Get To Know The New Mexico State Aggies
Utah State takes on New Mexico State
Get to know the other Aggies
This Friday (5:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network) Utah State and New Mexico State square off in the Arizona Bowl. To get to know the Sun Belt Aggies we reached out to Underdog Dynasty’s New Mexico State writer @adoptedaggie. They also answered our questions on the bowl game which you can read here.
The last time we saw New Mexico State was them holding off New Mexico 30-28 way back in Week 2 of the college football season and a lot has changed since then.
MW: How big of a deal was this for New Mexico State to get to this bowl game, and was there any real threat of them turning down a postseason berth?
AA: It was a huge deal. This team and the city of Las Cruces had been wanting a bowl game badly for 56 years. When the Aggies won their 5th game of the year, the entire school and city rallied behind the team, making shirts and giving out free tickets. I’m sure you guys saw the aftermath of the game to give NMSU six wins. Everyone is so excited for this game, I can’t put into words really how much this means to NMSU Aggie fans. I’m not sure how real that threat was.
It seemed as though there was a chance we might not be able to go if the distance was too great, but Chancellor Carruthers also mentioned not being able to sell the ticket allotment given to the school, which he said would cause the University to have to pay for those left over. That turned out to be incorrect so who knows? My gut says they would have turned it down if the bowl was in Alabama but not because of tickets.
MW: We saw NMSU play UNM early in the year, what has changed (or not) from this team since then?
AA: A lot has changed. This team is more cutthroat and won’t let teams get back into games if they are up by a lot. They’ve learned how to close out tight games and most importantly, win. I think the biggest difference has been on the defensive side of the ball. During that week 2 game, the players were still getting settled into their roles and feeling things out. Now they know what to do and how to do it. During their last two games, albeit versus lesser teams, they tallied 16 sacks. So this team can get to the quarterback. They also blitz a lot, which helps.
MW: Who are the key players that Utah State needs to watch out for?
AA: Quarterback Tyler Rogers and all of his wide receivers. Rogers has thrown 512 times this year for 3,825 yards and 26 touchdowns, so it’s safe to say the offense revolves around him. Jaleel Scott is one of his biggest targets, at 6’6” he has really burst onto the scene and will be playing in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. Although Scott is the “headline” receiver, Rogers spreads the ball around pretty well to Connor Cramer, Izaiah Lottie, and a whole host of others.
Other players to watch are running back Larry Rose III, a former All-American who has seen his numbers dip since the offense has become more of a passing attack (807 yards, nine touchdowns) and linebackers Dalton Herrington and Terril Hanks. Herrington has 125 tackles, 15 of those for a loss, 5.5 sacks and an interception. He is the man on defense. Hanks is his number two, having compiled 101 tackles, 13 for a loss, six sacks and two interceptions.
MW: Is there any animosity for playing a Mountain West school since the league said no to adding NMSU, and because of that the Aggies are going to be an independent?
AA: There definitely is. New Mexico State would be a good fit for the conference, so being allowed to play against one of its members is huge. It’s a big chance for New Mexico State to show that the football team has a following and that they are capable of competing against Mountain West teams. I don’t think the animosity is towards USU in particular, but the conference as a whole. I think most people see NMSU as a good fit geographically and know there are a lot of fans in Las Cruces, which I don’t think many people outside of New Mexico realize.
MW: What is the crowd expectation for New Mexico State since it is a reasonable four-hour drive?
AA: The crowd is expected to be huge. NMSU has sold over 6,000 tickets. In fact, a lot of fans have dubbed Arizona Stadium “Aggie Memorial West” after New Mexico State’s home stadium. Everyone in Las Cruces is pumped up for the game and that will be shown with the number of fans in attendance.
MW: What is your prediction?
AA: This is going to be a really good game. I think both teams are evenly matched and it will come down to who makes the least mistakes. NMSU will probably be a little nervous but, since I’m biased, I think they’ll pull out the W and keep New Mexico State perfect in bowl games. NMSU Aggies 31, Utah State Aggies 28.