Storied Rivalry: UTEP, NMSU players realize Battle of I-10 significance

College Sports

LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — The college football season will begin on Saturday with five games on the schedule in zero week. That includes a rivalry game in the Borderland with what has become one of the most historic rivalries in the sport.

New Mexico State will host UTEP 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.

“It’s exciting,” said UTEP sophomore quarterback Gavin Hardison. “It’s super exciting to start off with our rival and hopefully build some momentum going into the rest of the season after that.”

While UTEP has historically had the better football team, that hasn’t been the case in recent history. The Aggies, who didn’t play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have won the last three meetings against the Miners in 2017 (41-14), 2018 (27-20) and most recently in 2019 (44-35).

“Just to start off with a zero week game is exciting for one, but to start off with UTEP is especially exciting,” said NMSU senior wide receiver Robert Downs III. “Those [UTEP] guys are ones we like to handle.”

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. UTEP had won eight straight over NMSU from 2009-2016, the longest win streak in the series.

“Playing a rival is always a big game, especially with a game against a team right up the road,” said UTEP junior defensive back Justin Prince. “We take that very serious because it’s about bragging rights.”

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 40 miles of each campus.

“I feel like it’s going to be the biggest game of the year,” said NMSU junior quarterback Jonah Johnson. “It’s the Battle of I-10 and I’m really excited for it.”

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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