El Paso, TX (U.S. Army) — UTEP takes on NM State in Las Cruces in the 91st matchup between the I-10 rivals. The Miners are playing seven road games for the first time since 2002. UTEP also played seven road contests in 1978, 1980, 1986, 1993, 1999 and 2000. The Miners haven’t won a road opener since 2009, when they prevailed at NMSU 38-12. UTEP has lost five of its last six road openers. The Miners are 5-5 when NM State serves as their first road opponent of the season (1914, 1915, 1937, 1976, 1982, 1986, 1989, 1995, 2005, 2009), including 5-1 in the last six occurrences.
UTEP leads the series 53-35-2. This is the longest-running series in school history. NMSU holds a 19-17-1 edge in games played in Las Cruces. However, the Miners have posted back-to-back wins at Aggie Memorial Stadium (2009 & 2011) for the first time since a four-game road winning streak from 1986-91. Overall UTEP has reeled off four consecutive victories over NMSU for the first time since a six-win run from 1986-91. The home team has won 12 of the last 16 games in the ledger. The winning team has scored 30 points or more in 11 of the last 13 meetings.
What’s at Stake
The winner of the UTEP-NMSU rivalry game receives a pair of traveling trophies, the silver spade and the brass spittoon. The trophies have resided in El Paso since 2009. NMSU’s last victory over the Miners came on Sept. 20, 2008 in the Sun Bowl by a 34-33 score.
The Last Meeting
UTEP bolted to a 27-0 lead early in the second quarter in an eventual 41-28 victory over NM State on Sept. 15, 2012 in the Sun Bowl. The Miners led 41-14 in the fourth quarter before the Aggies scored two touchdowns in the final six and half minutes. Nick Lamaison threw for a season-high 300 yards to lead UTEP. He finished 21-of-32 passing with four touchdowns and no interceptions, hitting Kevin Perry (four yards), Jordan Leslie (32 yards), Craig Wenrick (17 yards) and Michael Edwards (36 yards) for scores. Leslie was UTEP’s leading receiver, snaring seven receptions for 147 yards. The Miners also rushed for 177 yards behind a balanced attack as Autrey Golden led the way with 69 yards. The UTEP defense registered seven tackles for losses and three sacks. A.J. Ropati and Richard Spencer were both credited with 11 stops to lead the team. The Aggies compiled only 236 yards through three quarters before putting up 166 in the final period.
While UTEP has no players from the state of New Mexico on its 2013 roster, NMSU has 17 Texas products, including two El Paso natives -- sophomore DB Kedeem Thomas-Davis (El Dorado HS) and senior OL Davonte Wallace (Irvin HS). Players from both schools who attended the same high school or college are: UTEP DL Marcus Bagley, UTEP WR Devin Patterson & NMSU QB King Davis III (North Mesquite [Texas] HS); UTEP DL Dewan Edmonson & NMSU WR Travaughn Colwell (Manvell [Texas] HS); UTEP DB Jameel Erving & NMSU TE Perris Scoggins (Summit [Calif.] HS); UTEP RB Ranique Lovett & Wallace (Irvin HS in El Paso); and UTEP LB Darnell Murray & NMSU WR James Ooten (Citrus Hill [Calif.] HS). UTEP sophomore DL Matthew Heard is a transfer from NM State who redshirted in his lone season with the Aggies.
UTEP wide receivers coach Todd Whitten coached at NMSU from 1992-93, working with the offensive line. Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach Spencer Leftwich was also a part of the Aggies’ staff from 1992-93, directing the quarterbacks.
The Aggies dropped to 0-2 with a 44-21 loss to Minnesota on Sept. 7 at Aggie Memorial Stadium. A week earlier, NMSU opened the season with a 56-21 setback at then-15th ranked Texas. NMSU rates 52nd nationally in passing yardage, averaging 247.5 per game. Senior Andrew McDonald has completed 54-of-77 passes (70.1 percent) for 428 yards on the year. Two Aggies -- sophomore Joshua Bowen (121) and junior Joseph Matthews (105) -- have gone over 100 yards receiving for the season. In the Minnesota game, McDonald completed 22-of-31 passes for 186 yards, but NMSU fell behind 27-7 at halftime and couldn’t recover. The Gophers rushed for 342 yards, with two players - Rodrick Williams (148) and Philip Nelson (122) - both going over the century mark. Nelson, the quarterback, also threw for 127 yards.
Been a While
The last UTEP coach to win his first road game was David Lee on Sept. 16, 1989 with a 29-27 conquest of NM State. The last three Miner generals -- Charlie Bailey, Gary Nord and Mike Price -- were all saddled with defeats in their road debuts. Bailey’s squad dropped a 31-10 decision at Air Force on Oct. 30, 1993 (he coached the team for the last five games of the season). Nord’s charges lost in the season opener at no. 14 Oklahoma, 55-14, on Sept. 2, 2000. And UTEP christened the Price era with a 41-9 setback at Arizona State on Sept. 2, 2004.
The Miners are facing New Mexico and NM State back-to-back to open a campaign for the first time in school history. The last time they met the schools back-to-back was in 2006, when a 26-13 loss at New Mexico (Sept. 23) preceded a 44-38 triumph over NMSU in the Sun Bowl (Sept. 30). Before that, UTEP hadn’t played UNM and NMSU in consecutive games since 1988.