Nine on 9: UTEP and NMSU football programs continue Battle of I-10


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Saturday’s match-up between the University of Texas at El Paso and New Mexico State University will be the 98th Battle of I-10.

Interrupted in 2020 due to the pandemic, this year’s game during week zero is set to rejuvenate the decades-long rivalry and get fans ready for the college football season in the borderland.

UTEP Athletic Director Jim Senter and NMSU Athletic Director Mario Moccia joined Sports Anchor Colin Deaver to talk fans, players, and getting back on the field for some great football.

This year is the first time since 2019 that NMSU has hosted a true game. Both athletic directors talked about how the first season’s game impacts the rest of the season.

In 2020 the pandemic put a stop to many events in our area, athletic activities were especially hit. NMSU saw no home games in any sports, and of course no football. The stall affecting the university with revenue losses. Mario Moccia says it impacted the athletes more because they had to deal with the unknown.

The stoppage impacting the staff because sports provide their livelihood. No games meant no ticket sales which translated to diminished dollars. The season over at UTEP was slightly better since the university was able to host some games and even allow fans in the stands.

The lessons both athletic directors learned were similar, make decisions and be ready to pivot at any moment.

How will this Battle of I-10 be different for the fans? There will be a lot of activities and events before actual game time. Aggie Memorial Stadium seats about 30,000 fans and they are expecting a sell-out. People are not required to wear a face mask in the stadium or while tailgating.

For any indoor activity, such as the press box or premium areas, masks are required. This game is also about the bands, cheerleading squads, the mascots, and everyone who works to make these games a success.

Senter and Moccia say they are excited about getting back to the business of sports, players, and fans.

While both want their team to win, they feel the entire community will be victorious come game night. There is also a friendly wager in place. The winning team will get to shave with a UTEP logo or the NMSU logo on Colin Deaver’s face.

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