Aggie fans brace for game against bitter rival New Mexico


Cassidy Kuester

Senate Election Packets are now available in the ASNMSU offices and online.

The Battle of Interstate 25- the rivalry between the football program of the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University—will come alive once again on Saturday, marking the 109th meeting between the state’s only two Division I programs.  

The very first Aggie vs. Lobo football game was played on New Year’s Day of 1894—eighteen years before New Mexico would become a state.

The Lobos captured the first victory at home. Some of NMSU’s first graduates, then under the name of New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, played on the very first team.  

NMSU is holding the current winning streak with two wins in 2016 and 2017. However, UNM holds the overall lead in rivalry with a record of 70-33-5. NMSU’s largest winning streak is four games between the years of 1965-1968, while UNM’s largest streak is eighteen years from 1938-1958. 

Las Cruces native and NMSU junior Joseph Fullbright explains the importance of the rivalry with UNM and why it shines more than the one with NMSU’s Interstate-10 neighbor, the University of Texas – El Paso. 

“[It] means so much more than UTEP. The fact that we are battling for state bragging rights really pushes it to the top. Beating them in football here at home two years ago was one of the best moments of my college experience so far. 

“I think the reason it is so intense, to me at least, are from the Lobo fans. They always come down here in large numbers and try to take over our home venues. Not to mention, they’re sometimes not the nicest people—so when we win, it makes it even sweeter,” Fullbright said. 

“You always want to win this game,” NMSU head coach Doug Martin said at the weekly press conference ahead of the UNM game, who mentioned that the program is very proud of to have defeated UNM the past two years.  

“For our fans, this is the biggest game of the year. I don’t care what state it’s in—these are always the funnest games that you play in, coach in—You get those bragging rights for a year.”  

Both schools host their own bonfires during the week of the game—UNM’s is the Red Rally and NMSU’s is the Burning of the Lobo.  

NMSU’s Burning of the Lobo always takes place in a vacant lot near Aggie Memorial Stadium. Students along with the NMSU Band and Cheerleading team gather around a large-scale replica of a lobo and watch it burn to the ground. 

The Red Rally involves UNM students gathering on Johnson Field to burn a twenty-five-foot Aggie at the stake. The event was even featured in Sports Illustrated’s “102 Things You Have To Do Before You Graduate” at #55 for college events.  

On the day of the game, there is always a tailgate which gives an opportunity for students, alumni, and all other  fans—Aggies or Lobos—to come together before the competition begins. 

Even though the meeting of the two universities—which are the largest ones in New Mexico enrollment-wise—typically revolves around a rivalry, it is also a way of the bringing the state altogether in one day until the next game the next year.  

Stephen Chacon, a recent NMSU graduate, is most excited to see the game from a different perspective. 

“This is going to be my first year going to the tailgate and game as an alumnus. It definitely brings a different feeling this year. Excitement of course, but also some nostalgia. I think the tailgate allows for a place where both students and alumni of both UNM and NMSU can come together, have fun, and show how much pride we have in our respected schools,” Chacon said. “This is always the most anticipated game on the schedule and rightfully so, it really brings the community of Las Cruces together and makes for a fun weekend.” 

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