NMSU set to host Utah State on Saturday

NMSU

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The NM State football program returns home for the first time in 42 days Saturday afternoon when the Utah State Aggies visit Aggie Memorial Stadium for a 2:00 p.m. kick.
The “Battle of the Aggies” will be the first time that NM State will play a game before 5 p.m. this season.

HOW TO WATCH:
Saturday’s contest between NM State and Utah State will be shown live on BallySports AZ and on FloFootball. Director of Broadcasting Adam Young will handle all the PBP duties, with former Aggie Danny Knee handling the color commentary duties. The duo will also be joined by NM State grad Tatianna Favela who will handle all the sideline duties.

LISTEN UP:
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

MATCHUP NOTES:

SAY HELLO TO OUR NEW FRIENDS:
• After being a football independent since 2017, and a member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) since 2005, NM State, Director of Athletics Mario Moccia and Chancellor Dan Arvizu announced that the Aggies have accepted a bid to join Conference USA ahead of the 2023-24 season. The Aggies were joined by current WAC member Sam Houston State, Liberty and Jacksonville State. For the first time in 61 years, the Aggies and El Paso-based UTEP will share a conference.

RIP JIM HESS:
• Former NM State head football coach Jim Hess passed away back on Oct. 2. Hess served seven seasons as the man in charge of Aggie football leading the Aggies to the programs’ first winning season in 14 years in 1992. The 1992 Big West Conference Coach of the Year, Hess also served as head football coach at Angelo State and Stephen F. Austin. In his time in Nacogdoches, Hess helped the Lumberjacks transition from NAIA to Division-II to their current home at the FCS level. The Aggies will wear special stickers on the back of their helmets honoring the late Hess, and Saturday’s contest against Utah State will include a special video tribute and moment of silence.

ARIZONA BOWL REMATCH:
• NM State and Utah State meet for the second time since the 2017 Arizona Bowl, where NM State dropped Utah State in overtime. The NM State Aggies met the Utah State Aggies the next season (2018) in Logan. 

ROAD SAGE: 
• Whenever the Aggies have needed a big play on the ground, they turned to LT Sage Doxtater. One of the best offensive linemen in the country, Doxtater is one of six offensive lineman according to Pro Football Focus to have played 425+ snaps and not allowed a sack. Doxtater will play in his 50th career game and make his 48th start.

RESTED AND READY TO GO
• 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. Both Brohard and Bowels are questionable for the Aggies contest against Utah State this week. After recording his first career touchdown against Nevada, WR PJ Johnson III also missed the Aggies contest at Hawai’i due to injury.

DIXIE LAND DELIGHT
• ESPN and the SEC have designated next Saturday’s (Nov. 13) matchup at No. 3 Alabama as an 11 a.m. kickoff on SEC Network. The Aggies and Crimson Tide are meeting for the second time in three years. 

AFTERNOON DELIGHT
• The Aggies will finally play a contest before 5 p.m. in the afternoon. Seven of the Aggies first eight contests have kicked off at 6 p.m. or later, including two primetime 7:30 p.m. kickoffs. The Aggies could potentially play all afternoon games for the remainder of the season, as next Saturday’s contest has been selected for an 11 a.m. (CT)/10 a.m. (MT) kick. The Aggies season finale against UMass will kick off at 1 p.m. The lone contest without a start time is the Aggies’ Nov. 13 match up at Kentucky.

ONE-TWO PUNCH
• 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.        

BROHARD OR GO HOME
• 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 (four games), Brohard has recorded 29 tackles (7.3/game) and 2.5 tackles for loss. Despite missing the two games, Brohard has recorded 40 tackles in his five games played, and the LB has at least eight tackles in four of those five games. Brohard missed the Aggies last contest against Hawai’i due to a knee injury.

OJOH FINDS HIS MOJOH AGAINST MW
• Eastern Washington transfer Chris Ojoh has played his best football this season against the Mountain West. The LB has recorded 8.5 tackles for loss in six games against the MW and all five of his sacks. Ojoh recorded his first-career multiple-sack game against Hawai’i on sept. 25 and can become the first Aggie since Rashie Hodge Jr. (2019) to record 10 TFLs. Ojoh’s next TFL will be his 10th.   

STRIKING A WAVE
• Sept. 25 was a very special night, as during the second quarter, the Aggies passed the ceremonial tee from Striking the Wonder Dog to his “brother” Wave.  Striking served as the Aggies official tee retriever for nine seasons after the retirement of Smokey the Wonder Dog in 2012. Saturday’s contest against Utah State will be Wave’s first official game as the Raising Canes tee retrieval dog.

COMING UP THE MOUNTAIN
• Saturday’s contest against Utah State marks the seventh and final contest against the Mountain West Conference. The Aggies have already faced San Diego State (Sept. 4), New Mexico (Sept. 11), Hawai’i (Sept. 25, San Jose State (Oct. 3) and Nevada (Oct. 10).  Saturday’s contest is the fifth and final game in a stretch of five straight games versus the Mountain West.

WELCOME BACK
• After playing four of the first five in the State of New Mexico, the Aggies have not played a game in NM since Sept. 25. All three of the Aggies road contests in October were on the road.

NOTABLES: LAST GAME (HAWAI’I)
• Running back Juwaun Price became the first Aggie RB since Jason Huntley (UTEP, 2019) to record multiple rushing touchdowns. In that contest (Nov. 23), Huntley ran for 191 yards and three scores. Price averaged 9.4 YPC vs UH.    

• WR Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda recorded his third consecutive contest with at least 75 yards receiving at Hawai’i. After being limited to just 18 yards in the first match up, Garcia-Castaneda caught six balls for 82 yards. The Californian now has five games with at least 75 yards, the most since OJ Clark in 2019. If Garcia-Castaneda eclipses 75 yards Saturday he would become the first Aggie since Jaleel Scott in 2017 to have six games with at least 75 yards.

• Kicker Ethan Albertson kicked a career-best 44 yard field goal two weeks ago at Hawai’i. With his two makes, Albertson is now 10-of-14 on field goal attempts this season. With another made field goal, Albertson would be the first kicker since Dylan Brown in 2017 to make more than 10 field goals. Brown made 13 that season.

BEHIND ENEMY LINES (Utah State):
• Following his former HC at Arkansas State, QB Logan Bonner has handled the lionshare of the QB duties. Bonner has completed 150-of-249 passes (60.2%) for 2,217 yards and 17 touchdown passes.

• Florida native Deven Thompkins is a major weapon for Blake Anderson and the Utah State Aggies. Thompkins has at least 60 yards receiving in each game this season, and has six total 100 yard receiving games. Thompkins has recorded at least 100 yards receiving in four consecutive games and has six TDs.

• Not to be out done are Derek Wright and Brandon Bowling. The duo have combined for 449 and 420 yards respectively and nine touchdowns.

• On the ground, the Aggies have turned to the two-headed monster of Calvin Tyler Jr and Eleyon Noa. Tyler Jr is Utah State’s leading rusher (477 yards) this season, but has not played in the last two contests. In his place, Noa has taken off, rushing for 97 yards on 26 carries two weeks ago at Colorado State and for 111 yards and a touchdown last week against Hawai’i. 

• Defensively, Utah State is led by linebacker Justin Rice. On the year, Rice has a team-high 9.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions and 70 tackles.  

UP NEXT:
The Aggies continue the final stretch run of the 2021 season with a contest at No. 3 Alabama. Kickoff from Bryant-Denny Stadium is set for 10 a.m. (MT) on the SEC Network.

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