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New Mexico State Aggies Open with a Win Over Cal Poly

Let's not go shouting "BCS Buster", or it's 2014 equivalent, yet, but the Aggies will take any win considering how many the program has had lately.

Doug Martin struggles with 'Blue Steel'
Doug Martin struggles with 'Blue Steel'
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

The Cal Poly Mustangs are hardly a powerhouse. Last season they won six games, and lost to FBS squads Fresno State and Colorado State. New Mexico State were coming off a two-win season, barely beating Abilene Christian and Idaho. All bets were off when it came to assuming the Aggies would win.

Early on, it looked like the result was in doubt, as the Mustangs matched NMSU all through the first half. The Aggies took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards for a TD, with Tyler Rogers firing a 30-yard pass to receiver Teldrick Morgan.

Cal Poly were far from impressed, and found some nice running room on a 77 march to tie the score, with Brandon Howe scoring on a 3-yard run. On the ensuing Aggie drive, a couple of nice runs by Larry Rose III were spoiled by incompletions by Rogers, forcing NMSU to punt.

The Mustangs were driving again, moving 43 yards into NMSU territory, but an interception by Winston Rose gave the Aggies the ball back. Some nice running by Rose and Betancourt, plus a 25-yard pass from Rogers to Gregory Hogan, put Xavier Hall in position to bang it in from the one.

The rest of the half was a battle of punters, although a nice 39-yard run by Cal Poly's Chris Nicholls late in the half set up a field goal, and the Mustangs entered the half down 14-10.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was as good as it got. The second half was all Aggies as the defense upped the ante in the second half, shutting down the Cal Poly offense almost completely. After racking up 192 yards in the first half, the Mustangs managed just 62 in the second, and had only two drives of more than three plays (both six).

Rose was the star of the show, rushing for 149 yards and 2 second-half TDs on 30 carries, while Rogers completed 18 of 27 passes for 118 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception. The offensive line didn't allow a single sack, while paving the way for nearly 200 yards rushing. The unit converted 9 of 16 third downs (56.3%), making 21 first downs, and converted both their redzone efforts.

The real story of the day though, was the Aggie defense. After some early jitters, the unit dominated the majority of the final three quarters, shutting down a previously decent Mustang running attack, and holding their quarterbacks to just 6 yards passing. Yes, six. Dano Graves and Chris Brown combined to complete just 2 of 6 passes, with an interception, and running back Nicholls joined the fun with a misfire of his own. In comparison to the Aggies efforts, Cal Poly converted just 4 of 12 third downs.

It may not be the prettiest or most exciting win of the weekend, but the fans in Las Cruces will gladly take a 1-0 start.