Don’t look now, but the New Mexico State Aggies are 6-3.
The Aggies secured their sixth win Tuesday night over Louisiana Tech in a dramatic finish. Their defense showed up late, stopping consecutive drives from the Bulldogs in the final minutes and forcing a fumble and a turnover on downs to ice the game in the 27-24 victory.
NMSU linebacker Sone Aupiu had the biggest play of the night when he forced and recovered said fumble as it looked like the Bulldogs were going to, at the very least, tie the game:
The play helped Jerry Kill’s squad stretch their win streak to four games – NMSU’s longest winning streak since 2002 – and move to 4-1 in CUSA play.
Not so bad for their first year in the league.
I don’t know if it’s all that surprising that NMSU has already reached six wins. College football betting odds had its win total at 6.5 entering the season.
Following their season-opening loss to UMass, you wouldn’t have guessed the Aggies would be where they’re at.
Their success this season has heavily leaned on being gritty, winning the line of scrimmage, and rushing the football. They rank third in the conference with 205.4 rushing YPG, and in their four-game winning streak, they’re averaging 210 rushing YPG. They have three players that rank in the top 13 in rushing production — Diego Pavia at 66 YPG and Monte Watkins and Star Thomas both average 45 YPG.
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In Tuesday night’s win, the Aggies passed for just 95 yards but rushed for 232.
Entering the week, NMSU had only forced five turnovers, so forcing two fumbles and getting the turnover on downs were much needed to secure the win. Forcing turnovers isn’t something they’ve been able to rely on.
It’s been a resurgent past couple of seasons for the Aggies since Kill took over in November 2021. In his first year, he led the team to just their second bowl win since 1960 and has them in a position to win another — since they play 13 games this year, the Aggies need one more win to become bowl-eligible.
Last year was New Mexico State’s first winning season since 2017 and only their second since 2002.
Two decades later and a combined six departures and additions to different leagues, the Aggies have a chance to win eight games for the first time since 1965.
I won’t knock down their strong season, but it is worth noting that they haven’t played the toughest schedule. Really, they should be sitting at 7-2 and maybe even 8-1. They should have beaten UMass and led Hawaii 17-3 before losing on a last-second field goal.
There’s reason to believe their only loss should have come to Liberty.
The rest of the season will tell us more about this squad. Following a home game against Middle Tennessee, NMSU visits WKU and Auburn before hosting Jacksonville State to cap the regular season. Their toughest stretch of the year is yet to come.
It’s possible that the Aggies go 0-4 in their final four games. It’s also possible that they go 3-1.
I think it’s much more likely that they win one or two of these games, and getting that eighth win will come down to the finale against Jax State.
Regardless of how the season ends, you know the Aggies have exceeded expectations and will continue to find ways to win. We should see more of this in the future:
As long as Kill is at the helm, NMSU will be a menace in the league going forward.