Rivalry renewed: UTEP, NMSU open season with Battle of I-10 after not playing in 2020

College Sports

LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — The Battle of I-10 is back and the stakes couldn’t be higher for UTEP and New Mexico State.

The Miners and Aggies will meet in the 98th edition of the Battle of I-10 on Saturday at Aggie Memorial Stadium. It’s a rivalry that dates back to 1914 with the Miners holding the all-time series advantage, 57-38-2. NMSU has had recent history on their side, winning the last three meetings over UTEP in 2017 (41-14), 2018 (27-20) and most recently in 2019 (44-35).

NMSU was one of just three FBS programs (UConn and Old Dominion the others) who didn’t play a single down of football in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first time since 2003 the Aggies and Miners haven’t played each other on the football field and both athletic directors are thrilled to get this game back on the books.

“It’s been over 650 days since we played a game at Aggie Memorial Stadium,” said NMSU Director of Athletics Mario Moccia. “To be able to start with the Battle of I-10, that’s a heck of a way to have a re-coming out party.”

“It was really disappointing not to be able to play that [Battle of I-10] game,” said UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter. “Our kids and coaches look forward to it on both sides, so, we’re really looking forward to playing New Mexico State again this year.”

The Battle of I-10, which has a pair of traveling trophies known as the Silver Spade and the Mayor’s Cup, has had its ebbs and flows. Prior to their recent three-game skid, UTEP had won eight straight over NMSU from 2009-2016, the longest win streak in the series.

“There’s excitement in this game. How could you not be excited about this game?,” said UTEP head coach Dana Dimel. “This is our rivalry game, so there’s great excitement for them. We have a lot of guys on our roster that weren’t here the last time we played New Mexico State. A lot of our top players were younger players at that time, so there’s a good group of guys who have just never lined up on our team with the additional talented offensive and defensive players we’ve brought into our program. They haven’t had a chance to really play against them and this will be their first opportunity to do so, so I think they are excited.”

In addition to UTEP, NMSU also plays in-state rival New Mexico in the Rio Grande Rivalry. However, there’s just something about college football and playing a team that is located within 30 miles of each campus.

“It’s unique here in that you have two rivals. You have the in-state rival, which is huge, and then you have a rival that’s 30 miles away, which is even bigger,” said NMSU head coach Doug Martin. “I have never been in a place where you have two like that, so, it is unique. It’s huge to win those two games and history says that if you can win those two games at New Mexico State, you’re going to have a winning season.”

Kickoff at Aggie Memorial Stadium is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be broadcasted on Bally Sports Arizona, Comcast NM and FloFootball.

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