What Would A Combined New Mexico/New Mexico State Football Team Look Like?
If you combined the Lobos and the Aggies, what would you get? A serious look at an absurd proposal.
The Land of Enchantment, united?
The Rio Grande Rivalry is one of the West’s longest running football rivalries and, even if many people haven’t been paying attention recently, the New Mexico Lobos and New Mexico State Aggies have tended to play fairly close and exciting games in recent years.
However, neither team has had much sustained success in their recent history, either. After clawing their way to nine wins in 2016, the Lobos have backslid to three wins in each of the past two seasons while the Aggies, Arizona Bowl champions in 2017, fell off to three wins themselves as an independent last fall. It has justifiably caused a great deal of consternation among both fanbases and, at least in the eyes of one particular group, calls for radical action:
The short version of this proposal? Neither team is making money off of athletics these days, so despite the physical distance between the two campuses, the differences in academics and, well, everything else, UNM and NMSU should join forces to become more competitive. Okay.
This will never happen, of course, but for the sake of argument, what would such a team look like in the next few years?
Neither team was particularly good at moving the ball in 2018, both finished in the triple digits nationally by Offensive S&P+ and, concidentally, averaged exactly 4.99 yards per play.
Whatever resurgence comes about would likely be led by the Aggies. Josh Adkins is probably a better option at quarterback than Sheriron Jones and Tevaka Tuioti, and NMSU also landed three-star recruit Weston Eget in their 2019 recruiting class. Jason Huntley and Christian Gibson are a better tandem than anything that UNM has to offer right now, though both teams would enable a very deep receiving corps.
The offensive line would begin with a bunch of veterans and at least some degree of continuity. Six players have started at least ten games and two, Teton Saltes and Kyle Stapley, should be around for 2020.
This team, though, would face a very hard reset after this fall, with a slew of seniors in the hypothetical two-deep and very few reinforcements that aren’t JuCo transfers. If they weren’t able to take a step forward, the immediate future would be grim.
NMSU graduated most of the pieces that would’ve made this a lot more interesting last summer, but this unit, too, would face the prospect of a mass graduation exodus after 2019. You’d be hard-pressed to find one significant contributor — maybe RUSH linebacker Mike Edwards or defensive end Nahje Flowers — that isn’t a senior this fall.
This would probably be a significant strength for at least the next two years thanks to the Lobos. Tyson Dyer averaged 44.3 yards per punt while Andrew Shelley was perfect from 40-plus yards, so the superteam would at least have a chance to set up and win a field position game. Just imagine if Marcus Hayes has stuck around.
How many games would they actually win?
If you were to look at this year’s opponents for NMSU and UNM, here’s how I think the superteam would stack up:
Guaranteed wins: Incarnate Word, UTEP
Guaranteed losses: at Alabama, at Boise State, Fresno State, at Georgia Southern, at Notre Dame, at Ole Miss, Utah State, at Washington State
Worse than 50/50 games: Air Force, Hawaii, at Nevada, San Diego State, at Wyoming
50/50 games: Liberty, Colorado State, San Jose State
Better than 50/50 games: at Central Michigan, Sam Houston State
Projected record: 7-13
To keep the conversation going head over to MWCBoard to discuss, debate, and yell at us for this exercise.