NMSU travels back to SEC country for matchup against Kentucky

NMSU

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The NM State football program closes its 2021 road slate on Saturday, when they make the trek to Lexington to clash with the Kentucky Wildcats.

Kick-off from Kroger Field is set for 10 a.m. (MT) live on SEC Network.

HOW TO WATCH:
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 member of the broadcast crew will be Tera Talmadge. Talmadge will handle sideline duties.

MATCHUP NOTES:

PARTY IN THE [C]USA:
• 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 existing 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.

HONORING A LEGEND:
• 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.

WELCOME BUCK:
• 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 against Utah State and had a pair of tackles at No. 3 Alabama Saturday.

ROAD FINALE:
• Saturday’s contest at Kentucky will be the road finale for the Aggies in 2021. NM State closes the season a week from Saturday against UMass. Kick-off from Aggie Memorial is set for 1 p.m.

BACK IN THE BLUEGRASS:
• NM State head coach Doug Martin attended and played for the University of Kentucky. Saturday’s contest against Kentucky will be the second time that Martin has returned to Lexington as a member of the Aggies. NM State traveled to Kentucky back in 2016. In that contest that Aggies lead 21-14 after a quarter of play, and were tied 35-35 at the half, before falling 62-42.

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 toptwo 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 14 yards to reach the 500 yard mark, while Garcia-Castaneda needs 22 yards to get to the half century mark.

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 five of the seven games he has played in this season. Since returning from COVID protocols (five games), Brohard has recorded 46 tackles (7.7/game) and 3.0 tackles for loss. Despite missing the three games, Brohard has recorded 57 tackles in his seven games played. Brohard missed the Aggies contest at Hawai’i due to a knee injury.

OJOH FOUND HIS MOJOH AGAINST MW:
• Eastern Washington transfer Chris Ojoh has played his best football this season against the Mountain West. The LB recorded 12.5 tackles for loss in seven games against the MW and Alabama. Ojoh also has all six 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.

DYNAMIC DUO:
• LB Chris Ojoh and DE Donavan King have combined to form quite a duo for the Aggies. If King can get another half-tackle-for-loss, he will have 10 on the season. King and Ojoh would be the first Aggie duo to record 10+ TFLs in a season since 2017 when Dalton Herrington (16.0), Terrill Hanks (15.0), Cedric Wilcots II (12.0), and Malik Demby (11.0) all were in double-figures.

HC DOUG MARTIN:
“Going into this game, it’s the same message as last week. We’re playing another outstanding SEC team that is having one of their best years. They’re very talented on both sides of the ball. So, for our guys, the opportunity is there to play against an elite team and prove you belong on that stage, and see if you can match them play-for-play. I’m sure our guys will do that. They’ve worked hard all year and it’s been a great group all year.”

UP NEXT:
The Aggies return home for the season finale against UMass. Kick-off from Aggie Memorial Stadium is set for 1 p.m.  

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