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New Mexico State Eyeing 2-0 Start With Easier 2014 Schedule?

After facing seven bowl teams in 2013, the Aggies only face three teams that went bowling last season. An FCS opponent in Cal Poly and a Georgia State team that went win-less last season could mean a dream start to the season for New Mexico State.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

New Mexico State beat Idaho 24-16 on the final day of the regular season to secure its second win of the season. It was an ugly season for the Aggies, who struggled to 2-10, beating the two worst teams on their schedule by only one possession each (Abilene Christian being the other).

Technically, 2-10 was an improvement on the year before when the Aggies only beat Sacramento State. That's not good.

New Mexico State lost every other game by double-digits, with its best loss being a 26-16 downing at the hands of San Diego State.

The Aggies were a victim of their independent schedule. It featured seven bowl teams, including four from BCS conferences. They had to open at Texas, host Minnesota the next week and then took a trip to the Rose Bowl two weeks after that to get obliterated by UCLA.

There was also Sun Belt champion UL Lafayette and C-USA champion Rice. 

Fear not, shell-shocked Aggies. The 2014 slate presents a small reprieve from the gauntlet of independence. New Mexico State's introduction into the Sun Belt means a much more manageable schedule, if only because only three out of conference games means less opportunities for money guarantee games.

That's especially the case because NMSU slots two of its OoC games against rivals New Mexico and UTEP. NMSU's only guarantee game is a road trip to Tiger Stadium to face LSU.

The first two games present an opportunity to do something New Mexico State football hasn't done in a long while; a 2-0 start.

The Aggies start at home with Big Sky opponent Cal Poly then travel to Atlanta to face Georgia State, which went winless last season.

Could it get better?

The next two games after that are NMSU's two annual rivalry games at UTEP (2-10 in 2013) and home to New Mexico (3-9 in 2013). 

To round out the schedule the Aggies face only two more participants from 2013's bowl season in Arkansas State and UL Lafayette.

Granted, just because there are some games on the schedule the Aggies "could" win doesn't they will. But it certainly gives the season more hope.

There is still a gap to close. The aforementioned 3-9 Lobos team smashed the Aggies 66-17 last season. UTEP comfortably won 42-21.

Still, with an easier schedule and its two easiest games being the first two of the season, New Mexico State will have ample opportunity to give new starting quarterback Tyler Rogers to develop and perhaps grow into a team that will be more competitive.

2013 opp. 2013 record
@Texas 8-5
Minnesota 8-5
UTEP 2-10
@UCLA 10-3
San Diego State 8-5
@New Mexico 3-9
Rice 10-4
Abilene Christian FCS
@UL Lafayette 9-4
Boston College 7-6
@Florida Atlantic 4-8
Idaho 1-11
2014 opp. 2013 record
Cal Poly FCS
@Georgia State 0-12
@UTEP 2-10
New Mexico 3-9
@LSU 10-3
Georgia Southern FCS
@Troy 6-6
@Idaho 1-11
Texas State 6-6
UL Lafayette 9-4
UL Monroe 6-6
@Arkansas State 8-5