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Liberty Flames at New Mexico State Aggies Preview and Prediction

The greatest Indy series in college football returns for the first time this season.

NCAA Football: New Mexico State at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The New Mexico State Aggies will look to win their first game of the season Saturday in the first of two games against fellow independent Liberty.

Just like last season, the two squads will be playing an in season home-and-home to help fill their schedules. Personally, I think it’s a smart idea but a lot of people like to mock it. I don’t understand why.

Anyways, here is what you need to know about college football’s freshest rivalry.

Game Time: Saturday, October 5, 6 p.m. MT

Locale: Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, NM

Gameday Festivities: It’s Homecoming and Ag Day!

TV: FloSports and FoxSports Arizona Plus

Radio: 99.5 KXPZ

Series History: Saturday’s game will mark the third meeting between the schools. The series is tied 1-1 with the home team winning both games.

Game Overview: Offense

There will be a lot of passing Saturday with Liberty’s Stephen Calvert and NM State’s Josh Adkins behind center. Both offenses are pass first and have plenty of options on where to throw the ball.

Unfortunately for the Aggies, the Flames attack is just better.

That’s because the Flames have Antonio Gandy-Golden, who is second in the nation in receiving yards with 688 and has the most career receiving yards among active players (3,106). He only needs 65 more yards to break Liberty’s career receiving yard mark, which he is likely to do Saturday.

NCAA Football: Liberty at Baylor
Antonio Gandy-Golden will cause trouble for NM State’s porous D Saturday. We’ll be seeing him play on Sundays.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Throwing to Gandy-Golden is Stephen Calvert, who reaps the benefits of throwing to an NFL caliber receiver to the tune of a 62% completion rate. Calvert has 1,396 yards and a 9 TD to 3 INT ratio. Look for that ratio to grow this weekend as well as seeing Calvert reach the 10,000 career passing mark (he only needs 242 to make it).

Frankie Hickson will be coming out of the backfield Saturday in hopes of rushing for his eighth career 100 yard game. He has a pretty good chance of it too, since two of his seven 100 yard performances have come against NM State.

The Aggie D will have their hands full Saturday, as they seem to every week...

Game Overview: Defense

On the filppity-flop, Liberty has a surprisingly tough defense that also forces turnovers. They currently rank 8th in the nation with six interceptions after forcing two last week against New Mexico. They also have a streak of five straight games with a sack, including two last week against a Lobo team that hadn’t allowed a sack though the season up until that point.

DE Jesse Lemonier leads the Liberty charge with four sacks so far this season. That is good enough for 12th in the nation. Lemonier’s four sacks help make up the 15 total sacks Liberty has had this season.

NCAA Football: Liberty at Auburn
Good luck scoring against the Flames
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

To make matters even harder for NM State, Liberty has one of the best red zone defenses as well. Inside the 20, they have only given up points on 9 of 15 red zone trips. That’s only worse than five other defenses in all of the FBS.

That’s not good for a Aggie offense that has struggled with sacks, interceptions and scoring.


Liberty doesn’t do well on the road and they are travelling over 1,000 miles for this game but they are too good across the board for a struggling Aggie team.

Give me Liberty or give me death.

Liberty 56, NM State 28