Welcome back everyone!! The season is finally here! New Mexico State and Wyoming will kick off the entire season on ESPN2, under the lights in Las Cruces and the atmosphere is already electric.
Chile/chili has been wagered.
CHECK IT OUT: I've challenged Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael to a friendly wager over this weekend's Saturday college football kick-off between our @NMStateFootball Aggies and his @wyoathletics Cowboys! The stakes: our chile against their chili. #AggieUp #LetsGoAggies pic.twitter.com/gaDAXVSaKQ— NM Attorney General (@NewMexicoOAG) August 22, 2018
T-shirts have been made.
Now it time for kickoff. Here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know.
Start Time: Saturday, August 25, 8 p.m.
Location: Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, New Mexico
Radio: 99.5 KXPZ
Betting Line: Wyoming is a three point favorite
Series History: The Cowboys lead the series 1-0 with the last meeting being in 1953. NM State has a good chance to even the series as Wyoming hasn’t won a non-conference road game under Craig Bohl.
New Mexico State is opening up 2018 as the only FBS team losing their leading passer, rusher, receiver and tackler from a season ago. Fortunately, Wyoming must also break in a new quarterback.
Wyoming is playing it’s first game without first round draft choice Josh Allen (instead redshirt freshman Tyler Vander Waal will start), while NM State is opening up 2018 with new starting quarterback Matthew Romero, a mobile quarterback who makes plays with his legs.
While both teams sport new QBs, they still return plenty of other starters on offense plus highly stout defenses.
For Wyoming, they will be returning their top two rushers from 2017, but in different roles. Trey Woods moved to DE in fall camp and Kellen Overstreet is not expected to be a major factor, despite the two combining for 1,072 yards last season. Instead, Nico Evans and Xazavian Valladay are expected to take the most rushes.
The offensive line for the Cowboys returns 116 career starts but has been banged up and is a question mark for the season opener. However, the entire Cowboy receiving corps returns and they have nine starters back on offense overall.
On defense, Wyoming is slated to be dominating, returning most of the players who helped them lead the nation last year with a +24 turnover margin.
Eight starters and the top six tacklers from last year’s 8-5 team are back, headlined by MLB Logan Wilson, safety Andrew Wingard and DE Carl Granderson. All three players received All-MW honors last year and contributed 310 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 20.5 tfls, and eight interceptions.
Another name to look out for is DT Youhanna Ghaifan. As a sophomore last year he was a constant presence in the backfield, as he tallied seven sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss.
While the Aggies will have their hands full, they aren’t without talent.
15 starters return including nine on the Aggies own strong defense (that was #2 in the nation with 43 sacks) including SLB Terrill Hanks and FS Ron LaForce who each had over 100 tackles, as well as SS Shamad Lomax (four interceptions). DE Cedric Wilctos (8.5 sacks last year) will be out the first two weeks of the season due to academics.
On offense, five of the top seven receivers return, along with dynamic RB Jason Huntley whose speed is sure to give the Cowboys fits.
Along the line, four starters return (73 career starts) and the line of scrimmage will be a fun battle to watch.
Look for the Aggies to bring pressure and force Vander Waal into bad throws.
Aggie Memorial will be under the lights and on national TV for the first time in a decade. The players and fans will be pumped and will help fuel an Aggie upset thanks in part to a late game turnover.
Aggies 17, Cowboys 14