Aggies, Crimson Tide meet for the second time in three years on Saturday


LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The NM State football program travels to Tuscaloosa Saturday to clash with No. 3 Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Saturday’s contest will mark the second all-time meeting between the Aggies and Crimson Tide. Alabama defeated NM State 62-10 back in 2019.

Saturday’s contest will appear live on the SEC Network. Aggie fans can also stream Saturday’s contest on the ESPN App (cable login required). Taylor Zarzour will handle the PBP duties, while Matt Stinchcomb will provide the color analysis. The third and final member of the broadcast team, Alyssa Lang, will handle sideline duties.

NM State fans can listen to “Voice of the Aggies” Jack Nixon and Cory Lucas on the all-new Varsity Network app by LEARFIELD, and the following Aggie Sports Network affiliates:
Artesia: KSVP 990 AM
Carlsbad: KAMQ 1240
El Paso: 1380 AM KHEY
Gallup: 1230 AM, 94.9 FM KYVA
Las Cruces: KXPZ 99.5 FM


NM State Chancellor Dan Arvizu, Director of Athletics Mario Moccia and the NM State Board of Directors unanimously passed a motion for the Aggies to join Conference USA ahead of the 2023-24 academic season. The announcement was especially important for the Aggies football program, that has spent the last four season as one of seven FBS Football Independents. The Aggies will be joined by Jacksonville State, Liberty and Sam Houston State. The four new members will join exisiting members: FIU, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, UTEP and Western Kentucky. The longest tenured member of the WAC, NM State will join CUSA for all of its sports. UTEP and NM State will share a conference for the first time since the 1950s.

The NM State Athletic Department and NM State football announced a tribute to former Aggie HC Jim Hess last week. In Hess’ honor, the Aggies have unveiled a patch that will be placed on the back of the football program’s helmets. In addition, NM State made a tribute video for Hess that was played during last Saturday’s first quarter. The coach was named the 1992 Big West Coach of the Year after leading the Aggies to the program’s first winning season since 1978. Hess passed away back on Oct. 2.

The open week came at the perfect time for the Aggies, as multiple players were nursing nagging injuries. Both safety Dalton Bowels (upper body) and Trevor Brohard (knee) missed the game against Hawai’i with minor injuries. The other Aggie to miss the Hawai’i contest was freshman PJ Johnson III. Bowels, Brohard and Johnson III all returned against Utah State. 

Redshirt junior Marcus Buckley returned to the lineup for the first time in 2021 Saturday. Buckley, who sustained a knee injury early in Fall Camp, played 23 snaps on Saturday.

The Aggies will play the rest of their schedule before 1 p.m. Seven of the Aggies first eight contests have kicked off at 6 p.m. or later, including two primetime 7:30 p.m. kickoffs. Last Saturday, the Aggies hosted Utah State for the first afternoon game of the season. Saturday’s matchup against No. 3 Alabama will kick at 11 a.m. CT/10 a.m. MT, while the Aggies’ contest at Kentucky will kick at Noon ET/10 a.m. MT. The season-finale against UMass will kick from Aggie Memorial at 1 p.m. 

NM State senior WR Jared Wyatt and sophomore Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda continue to form a formidable one-two punch for the Aggies. The Aggies top-two receivers thus far the duo have combined for 67 receptions, 894 yards and six touchdowns. Since returning from COVID protocols Garcia-Castaneda has recorded 458 total yards (6 games), and has five touchdowns (4 receiving, 1 passing). Garcia-Castaneda caught a career-best seven passes for 106 yards and two scores against SJSU. He became the first wide out since Izaiah Lottie to catch a pair of touchdowns in a game. Lottie achieved that feat back on Sept. 16, 2017 against Troy. Wyatt has also had a strong last five games. After recording a career-best nine receptions for 114 yards and a score against Hawai’i in the matchup in LC, Wyatt hauled in six passes for 52 yards against SJSU and had six catches for 64 yards and a score at Nevada . He and Garcia-Castaneda are the first set of teammates since Nov. 2017 to record back-to-back 100 yard games. Wyatt and Garcia-Castaneda are on pace to both eclipse 500 yards receiving this season. They would become WR duo to have 500+ yards receiving since Jonathan Boone and OJ Clark had 715 yards and 512 yards respectively in 2018. Wyatt needs just 20 yards to reach the 500 yard mark, while Garcia-Castaneda needs 22 yards to get to the half century mark.         

Junior captain Trevor Brohard has taken his game to the next level this season. The Los Lunas native has recorded at least eight tackles in three of the four games he has played in this season. Since returning from COVID protocols (five games), Brohard has recorded 39 tackles (7.8/game) and 3.0 tackles for loss. Despite missing the three games, Brohard has recorded 50 tackles in his six games played, and the LB has at least eight tackles in five of those six games. Brohard missed the Aggies contest at Hawai’i due to a knee injury.

Eastern Washington transfer Chris Ojoh has played his best football this season against the Mountain West. The LB recorded 9.5 tackles for loss in seven games against the MW and all five of his sacks. Ojoh recorded his first-career multiple-sack game against Hawai’i on Sept. 25. Ojoh became the first Aggie since Rashie Hodge Jr. (2019) to record 10 TFLs.

“We have a great opportunity this week playing at Alabama. As I told the players, growing up they either dreamed of playing for Alabama or against Alabama. Obviously, a lot of our guys did not get the opportunity to play for a major college program like Alabama. Now we get the chance to play against them which is a great reward. It’s also an opportunity for them to prove they belong against some of the best players in the country. The challenge is for our guys to go out and play against elite players for 60 minutes. It’s a great task and challenge, but if they can get that done they’ll be able to prove something to themselves. Alabama has a tremendous atmosphere and we’ll be playing against a lot of guys who will be NFL players. So it’s a great opportunity for our football team and players.”

The Aggies two-game road swing through SEC Country, finishes at Kentucky. Kickoff from Lexington is set for 10 a.m. (MT) on the SEC Network.

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