LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — It wasn’t exactly the start to their season they were hoping for. New Mexico State losing to UTEP in the Battle of I-10 by 27 points, the Aggies’ first loss to the Miners in three years. But there’s no sulking in Las Cruces right now — not on head coach Doug Martin’s watch and not with the schedule coming up.
NMSU was a 9.5-point underdog against UTEP and have opened as a 31.5-point underdog to San Diego State, their opponent on Saturday night. It will be the Aztecs’ season opener.
“We have to play a much better team this week,” Martin said. “San Diego State is one of the top teams in the Mountain West Conference and they have a tremendous defensive football team. They are really well coached and have great athletes. They have all the resources in the world.”
The Aggies managed to score just three points last week, albeit they seemingly had two touchdowns called back and missed a chip shot field goal. The numbers, however, weren’t pretty. NMSU was outgained by UTEP in total yards, 452-190, and gave up 203 rushing yards to the Miners.
Defense and running the football just so happens to be the Aztecs’ specialty. SDSU is widely considered one of the top defensive teams in the country, but are picked to finish third in the Mountain West Conference West Division.
“The main keys this week is when we get the ball within striking range, we need to score,” said NMSU senior offensive lineman Eli Johnson. “We also need to put ourselves in a position where our third downs are manageable. We want to be in 3rd and 2, 3rd and 3 or 3rd and 4 — not 3rd and 10, 3rd and 15 or 3rd and 20.”
Kickoff on Saturday is at 8:30 p.m. MT and the game will be broadcasted nationally on CBS Sports Network.