Mountain West Football: First Look at the New Mexico State Aggies
Many Mountain West teams will battle NMSU in non-conference play this fall. Here’s what to know about Aggies football heading into 2021.
Not a conference opponent, but they might as well be.
The Mountain West will face off with numerous opponents from across the country in non-conference football action this fall, but none are likely to become as familiar a sight to fans everywhere as the New Mexico State Aggies.
In all, NMSU has seven games lined up against the Mountain West as part of their independent schedule for 2021, including the in-state rivalry clash with New Mexico and an unusual home-and-home with Hawaii in September and October. The Aggies will also head to San Diego State, San Jose State, and Nevada, then host Utah State to close out that part of their slate in early November.
Aggies At a Glance
The Aggies have had a rough go of things in the last couple years against the Mountain West. After claiming back-to-back wins against New Mexico in 2016 and 2017 and then defeating Utah State in the 2017 Arizona Bowl, NMSU has lost six straight to the conference across 2018-19.
Then things got worse in 2020, when New Mexico State was one of three programs in the country that canceled its season altogether due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team had planned to play out-of-state like the New Mexico Lobos, but the university suspended all athletics, meaning the team didn’t play a snap that calendar year. Taking into account their independent status and the reality that revenue generated from football sustains most of the other athletic programs, it made sense if no one was open (let alone available) to schedule the Aggies.
However, New Mexico State did some creative problem-solving and eventually became the only FBS team to play this spring against FCS opponents. In what became essentially a preseason for the Aggies, they went 1-1 against FCS opponents Tarleton State and Dixie State.
Juwuan Price is a redshirt freshman running back and kick returner who stood out in the spring. Price started his collegiate career at Ole Miss before finding greener pastures under head coach Doug Martin. In two games, Price went for 222 yards rushing with one rushing touchdown and had 229 kick return yards with a return for a score.
Offensive lineman Sage Doxtater gives New Mexico State something that few, if any, FBS teams can boast of: A professional football draft pick still playing on the team. That’s because the 6-foot-7 and 350-pound London, Ontario native, who’s been a starter for the Aggies since his freshman year in 2016, got picked by the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts back in May. Chances are that he’ll be asked to protect the blindside of quarterback Jonah Johnson, who completed 36-of-60 passes for 358 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions in the spring.
On defense, linebacker Trevor Brohard was the lone Aggie on his side of the ball to be selected by Phil Steele as an all-independent caliber player. He was far and away NMSU’s most active defender in the spring with 16 tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. Junior safety Devlin Kirklin was almost as busy himself with 14 tackles, but the Aggies will look to get more production from everywhere to remain competitive this fall.
When New Mexico State gets back into action once again, they’ll come to play under closer-to-normal circumstances. The Aztecs will be hungrier to open the season with a big win given their disappointing 2020, though, season. For the Aggies, it’ll be a good temperature check to go to the west coast and play a few true away games in 2021. In all, though, it’s hard to see any chances for the Aggies here to steal a win or two.
San Diego State 24, New Mexico State 7
New Mexico 31, New Mexico State 24
Hawaii 34, New Mexico State 17
San Jose State 35, New Mexico State 13
Nevada 45, New Mexico State 14
Utah State 30, New Mexico State 17