There are two ways to look at the New Mexico State Aggies: 1) They are a 3-7 bottom feeder of FBS football struggling through yet another losing season, or 2) They are winners of 3 straight behind some scary-good offensive performances.
If you choose the first narrative, you're supported by the Aggies conference-worst defense and bottom-ten ESPN FPI ranking. Located beyond even the outer rim of the Sun Belt, the Aggies couldn't even pay the conference for full membership. The program was recently the subject of an ESPN article titled "Why Is New Mexico State Playing Ole Miss – Or Anybody?" If you read the article, you're granted this grim snapshot:
Few teams in the history of sports have lost more, for longer, than New Mexico State football. The rest of this paragraph is rated PG-13 for disturbing images. The Aggies haven't been to a bowl game since 1960. They haven't won eight games in a season since 1965. Over the past 40 years, they have four winning seasons; in that same span, they have 16 seasons in which they won two or fewer games. They have arrived in Gainesville on a 10-game losing streak. Which is not as bad as their 18-game losing streak in 2012 and 2013. Which was not as bad as their 27-game losing streak from 1988 to 1990. They are currently in the Sun Belt and have changed conferences three times since 2000, with one year as an independent.
Fair enough. But consider peering at the Aggies through a Larry Rose-colored lens. New Mexico State is in the midst of a solid three-game win streak. The Aggies rank fourth in the conference in team rushing. Larry Rose the Third, who ranks fifth in the nation for rushing (1,481 yds, 12 TDs), isn't New Mexico State's only weapon. Andrew Allen (and backup Nick Jeanty) have also been phenomenal during the win streak. Combined, the two QBs have tossed 9 TDs in that span for 840 yards. The Vandals, Bobcats and Cajuns may not be the Sun Belt's elite this year, but 3-wins is pretty damn impressive nonetheless.
Meanwhile, the Red Wolves are on their own impressive win streak: 6 straight wins and undefeated in conference play. The defense leads the nation in INTs and is tied with Alabama for second with 4 Pick Sixes. Best of all, after half a season of battling rust and injuries, QB Fredi Knighten has returned to his All-SBC form. The Aggies (and the Texas State Bobcats) stand in the way of a perfect conference season, and Arkansas State must travel 1,126 miles to meet a New Mexico State team who has finally found its stride.
Start Time: 3 P.M CST
Broadcast: ESPN3, The Official Channel of the Sun Belt.
Weather Forecast: 60º, but a dry 60º
Location: Aggie Memorial Stadium, Los Cruces, NM (capacity: 30,343)
Radio: 107.9 KFIN (A-State), 101.7 FM The TEAM (Aggies)
Series Record: New Mexico State leads the overall series 6-3, though A-State has won the last two meetings.
Betting Line: A-State is a -18 favorite over NMS.
A-State's ESPN FPI Chances: 88%
I've confirmed that Justin Clifton is out. Charleston Girley is questionable and day to day. -- #RedWolfNation— RedWolfReport.com (@RedWolfReport) November 17, 2015
It's clear Anderson is concerned by NM State's recent play. Aggies have won three straight, two of those came as at least a 2 TD 'dog.— Troy Schulte (@TroySchulteADG) November 23, 2015
WALLY IS TRAPPED IN THE FUTURE! pic.twitter.com/1uQSpzTc2B— A-State Fan Rules (@AStateFanRules) November 20, 2015