LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KTSM) – All it takes is a cursory glance to see that New Mexico State and Nevada are in similar positions as they enter their Week 0 showdown at Aggie Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

New coaching staffs; offseason quarterback competitions; and an unfamiliarity with their first opponent of 2022 highlight some of the ways the Aggies and Wolf Pack enter Saturday’s showdown feeling like mirror images of each other in a way.

Jerry Kill will be coaching his first game as a head coach since 2015 after a myriad of health issues nearly forced him to retire altogether. Kill has spent time as an assistant coach at a few programs since leaving Minnesota, but New Mexico State’s first game will open a new chapter for Kill.

“As far as me being jittery or unable to sleep before the game, I’ve been pretty good,” Kill said on Tuesday. “You’re not a human being if you’re not excited about what your team is gonna do.”

At Nevada, Ken Wilson will be making his head coaching debut after coming over from Oregon, where he was the co-defensive coordinator in 2021. He’s got major roots in Reno, though; Wilson has spent 23 of his 30 years as a coach or administrator at Nevada and helped the program rise to prominence in the 2000s.

Nevada enters Saturday’s clash on ESPN2 as a nine-point favorite, but there’s plenty of question marks on both sides of the field. One that NMSU and Nevada share: neither has named a starting quarterback ahead of Saturday.

The Aggies will start either junior college transfer Diego Pavia, or true freshman Gavin Frakes; the Wolf Pack will go with either veteran Nate Cox, or Oklahoma State transfer Shane Illingworth.

Kill has been quiet on the quarterback front throughout fall camp, choosing to keep Nevada guessing and Wilson has done the same. However, with a national television audience set to tune in, it seems possible that Kill would go with the veteran Pavia, who won a JuCo national championship at NMMI last season.

“We know what we’re doing and when we know what we’re doing, we don’t feel pressure, whether it’s me or Gavin,” Pavia said on Tuesday. “We’re both smart players; Coach Kill has prepared us very well for this game so I feel like we’ll be in good shape.”

Nevada also hasn’t given much insight into who might get the nod, though various local Reno reporters think Illingworth could get the nod (he was 3-0 as a starter at Oklahoma State). The Wolf Pack are looking to be more run-oriented in 2022, which is something else Nevada and NMSU may have in common. The Aggies look to have a talented stable of running backs.

The issue with preparing for Week 0 games vs. a new coaching staff and a new scheme, though, is the unfamiliarity both programs have with each other. It makes the weeks leading up to the opener hard on the coaching staffs.

“The worst thing you can do is go into these types of games because you don’t know what you’re preparing for,” Kill said. “You may prepare for something for three weeks and then they come out and don’t run the same thing. After about two games you know what your opponents are going to do and then you can look for mismatches.”

The preparation wars can go to incredible lengths; Wilson said at his pregame press conference that Nevada’s staff had watched film of every school that an NMSU assistant coached at in 2021, in hopes of gaining an upper hand.

“We’ve watched film on the last two or three games of where every coach on staff has been previously,” Wilson said. “Then you just go and give your best guess with the personnel they’ve got what part of that package they’ll try to use.”

The Aggies and Wolf Pack will find out soon enough which team prepared the best for its opener. If they’re as similar as they seem to be on paper, perhaps it will turn out to be an extremely competitive game.

Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2. Around 4,000 tickets remain to be sold as of Tuesday.