Aggies Host New Mexico State in Home Opener Saturday Night

NEW MEXICO STATE (0-2) vs. UTAH STATE (0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 • 6:06 p.m. (MT) • Logan, Utah • Maverik Stadium (25,100)
 
GAME 2 INFORMATION
STREAMING: Facebook (Stadium)
• Play-by-Play: Chris Hassel
• Analyst: Bruce Gradkowski
• Reporter: Kristen Balboni
• Sidelines (Social): Paige Zamora
• Internet: Facebook.com/StadiumCollegeFootball
 
RADIO: AGGIE SPORTS NETWORK
• Play-by-Play: Scott Garrard
• Analyst: Kevin White
• Online: 1280thezone.com / Tunein.com
 
SOCIAL MEDIA: #AGGIESALLTHEWAY
• Twitter/Instagram: @USUFootball
• Facebook: USUFootball
• YouTube: UtahStateFootball
• Live Stats: UtahState.Statbroadcast.com
 
KICKOFF COVERAGE
• Utah State hosts New Mexico State in its home opener on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 6 p.m. USU is 30-8 all-time against NMSU, including a 14-3 home record.
 
• Utah State and New Mexico State spent 26 years as league foes as both were members of the Big West Conference from 1985-2000, members of the Sun Belt Conference from 2002-03, and members of the Western Athletic Conference from 2005-12. In the Big West, USU held a 15-1 series advantage against NMSU, while the two teams split its two games as members of the Sun Belt. As members of the WAC, USU had a 6-2 series advantage, giving Utah State a 30-8 all-time series advantage against NMSU, which includes USU's 0-2 record against NMSU in bowl games.
 
• Utah State went 3-3 at home inside Maverik Stadium during the 2017 season and is 29-9 in its last 38 home games, which includes a 21-9 record under head coach Matt Wells. USU has won four-straight non-conference home games and is 16-3 in its last 19 non-conference home games, including an 8-2 record under Wells. All-time, Utah State is 141-105 (.573) in Maverik Stadium.
 
• Utah State returns 18 starters (O-9, D-9) and 47 letterwinners (O-19, D-26, S-2) from last season, which rank as the third-most in the nation behind Florida (19) and Michigan State (19). When you add in its two returning specialists, USU's 20 returning starters are tied for the third-most in the nation behind Baylor (22) and Michigan State (22), and tied with Florida (20), Michigan (20) and UAB (20).
 
• Despite returning 18 starters from last season, Utah State had seven players make their first-career start last weekend at No. 11 Michigan State in senior WR Jalen Greene, redshirt junior LB Tipa Galeai, redshirt junior DE Fua Leilua, junior RB Gerold Bright, junior CB DJ Williams, sophomore S Shaq Bond and redshirt freshman OT Alfred Edwards.
 
• Utah State is 17-12 under Wells following a loss and has not started a season 0-2 since 2009. Furthermore, USU has lost back-to-back games just seven times in six seasons under Wells.
 
• Utah State has won 14 of its last 24 games played during the month of September, including 11 straight at home, and is 1-3-1 all-time in games played on Sept. 8.
 
UTAH STATE HOSTS NEW MEXICO STATE IN HOME OPENER
• Utah State hosts New Mexico State on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 6 p.m. in its home opener. The game will be aired exclusively on Facebook with Chris Hassel (play-by-play), Bruce Gradkowski (analyst), Kristen Balboni (reporter) and Paige Zamora (sidelines-social media) on the call. Live audio of the game is available on www.UtahStateAggies.com.
 
UTAH STATE FOOTBALL ON FACEBOOK
• Utah State's home opener against New Mexico State, through a partnership with Stadium, will be the first of five Aggie home games that will air exclusively on Facebook this fall. Facebook is a platform that has more than 100 million video views daily.
 
STRIPE THE STADIUM
• For the third time in as many years, Utah State will be 'Striping the Stadium' when it hosts New Mexico State in its 2018 home opener. All fans sitting in even sections of Maverik Stadium are encouraged to wear white, while fans sitting in odd sections should wear navy blue.
 
USU RECORDS FIFTH-BEST ATTENDANCE IN SCHOOL HISTORY IN 2017
• For the sixth-straight season, Utah State averaged over 19,000 fans in 2017, marking the first time in school history it has accomplished that feat. During the 2017 season, USU averaged 20,108 fans (120,650) to rank fifth all-time in school history.
 
UTAH STATE WITH SIX HOME GAMES ONCE AGAIN IN 2018
• Utah State's 2018 schedule marks the ninth-straight season, the 10th time in the last 11 years, and the 11th time in the last 22 years that it will play six home games. Overall, the Aggies have had six home games on the slate just 15 times: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2008, 1998, 1996, 1995, 1978, 1952.
 
UTAH STATE HAS FIVE BOWL TEAMS ON ITS 2018 SCHEDULE
• Utah State's 2018 schedule features five teams that played in bowl games a year ago as Michigan State played in the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl (W, 42-17 vs. Washington State); New Mexico State played in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl (W, 26-20 OT vs. Utah State); Wyoming played in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (W, 37-14 vs. Central Michigan); Colorado State played in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl (L, 31-28 vs. Marshall); and Boise State played in the Las Vegas Bowl (W, 38-28 vs. Oregon).
 
PRESEASON PREDICTIONS FOR UTAH STATE
• According to College Football Home, Utah State is predicted to be the second-most improved team in the nation in 2018, behind only Florida. Furthermore, USU's special teams are predicted to be the fourth-best units in the nation this fall, behind only Utah, Stanford and TCU.
 
• According to West Coast College Football, Utah State has the fourth-best chance at winning the Mountain West championship in 2018, behind Boise State, San Diego State and Fresno State.
 
THOMPSON ONE OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S MOST FREAKISH ATHLETES
• According to NFL.com, Utah State junior RB Darwin Thompson is listed as the 17th-most 'Freak-ish Athlete' in college football heading into the 2018 season. Some of the reasoning behind this ranking comes from his performances in the weight room as he has squatted 560 pounds, including seven reps at 515 pounds. Furthermore, Thompson has logged a vertical jump of 40 inches.
 
RAYMOND RANKS AS SIXTH-BEST TIGHT END IN THE NATION
• According to College Football Focus, Utah State junior Dax Raymond is ranked as the sixth-best tight end in the nation heading into the 2018 season, behind Noah Fant (Iowa), Caleb Wilson (UCLA), Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri), Hunter Bryant (Washington) and Kaden Smith (Stanford).
 
LOVE PROJECTED AS ONE OF THE TOP BREAKOUT QUARTERBACKS IN 2018
• According to Athlon Sports, Utah State sophomore Jordan Love is ranked 25th in the nation among quarterbacks that will have a breakout season in 2018. Other Mountain West quarterbacks to make this list include UNLV's Armani Rogers (20) and Nevada's Ty Gangi (15).
 
DID YOU KNOW?
• Utah State has won 22 of its last 27 games when it has a 100-yard rusher and 26 of its last 29 contests when rushing at least 40 times in a game. USU has also won 40 of its last 43 games when scoring at least 30 points.
 
DID YOU KNOW?
• Utah State scored its first non-offensive touchdown of the 2018 season at No. 11 Michigan State as senior S Gaje Ferguson returned an interception 40 yards for the score. Last year, USU scored seven non-offensive touchdowns with three interception returns, two fumble returns, one blocked punt return and one kickoff return for a touchdown. Two years ago, USU had just one non-offensive touchdown.
 
SCOUTING NEW MEXICO STATE
• New Mexico State is 0-2 on the season following its 48-10 loss at Minnesota last weekend. NMSU began the year with a 29-7 home loss to Wyoming. The Aggies are led by junior QB Matt Romero, who is 45-of-85 (.529) passing for 373 yards (186.5 ypg) with two touchdowns and one interception. Junior RB Jason Huntley leads the team in rushing with 28 yards on 13 carries (2.2 ypc/14.0 ypg), and senior WR Johnathan Boone leads the team in receiving with 11 receptions for 88 yards (8.0 ypr/44.0 ypg). Defensively, senior DB Ron LaForce has a team-best 27 tackles, while senior LB Terrill Hanks has 20 tackles, which includes 1.0 tackles for loss. As a team, New Mexico State is averaging 8.5 points and 203.0 yards of total offense per game (188.5 passing, 14.5 rushing), and allowing 38.5 points and 485.5 yards of total offense (303.5 rushing, 182.0 rushing). New Mexico State returns 17 starters (O-8, D-9) and 45 lettermen (O-17, D-24, S-4) from last year's team that went 7-6 overall and 4-4 in Sun Belt play to finish tied for fifth. NMSU concluded its season with a 26-20 overtime win against Utah State in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. Doug Martin is 46-98 in his 11th season as a collegiate head coach and is 17-46 in six years as the head coach at New Mexico State.
 
UTAH STATE AND NEW MEXICO STATE SERIES HISTORY
• Utah State leads the all-time series against New Mexico State, 30-8, which includes a 14-3 home record. USU has won seven of the last 10 games played in the series, including three-straight at home. NMSU won the last meeting between the two teams as it posted a 26-20 overtime win in the 2017 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, held in Tucson, Ariz., on Dec. 29, 2017. The last time NMSU defeated USU in Logan was on Nov. 26, 2006, by a final score of 42-20.
 
UTAH STATE vs. NEW MEXICO STATE SERIES MOVING FORWARD
• Utah State and New Mexico State will conclude its series with a meeting in Las Cruces on Nov. 6, 2021.
 
UTAH STATE vs. NEW MEXICO STATE SERIES SIXTH-LONGEST 
• Utah State and New Mexico State will be meeting for the 39th time this weekend in what is currently tied for the sixth-most played series in school history, trailing Utah (112), BYU (87), Colorado State (74) and Wyoming (68) and Idaho (39), and tied with San José State (38).
 
• Utah State's 30 victories against New Mexico State is the fourth-most against any opponent in school history, trailing the 38 wins versus Wyoming, the 36 victories against Brigham Young and the 33 wins against Colorado State.
 
UTAH STATE VERSUS THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO
• Utah State is 41-21 (.661) all-time against Division I teams from the state of New Mexico with a 30-8 record against New Mexico State and an 11-13 record versus New Mexico.
 
WELLS VERSUS NEW MEXICO STATE
• Utah State head coach Matt Wells will be facing New Mexico State for the second time as a head coach, and owns a 4-1 record against NMSU as an assistant, posting a 2-0 record while at USU (2011-12) and a 2-1 record at New Mexico (2007-08, '10).
 
UTAH STATE AND NEW MEXICO STATE COACHING CONNECTIONS
• Utah State offensive line coach Steve Farmer coached with New Mexico State defensive line coach John Mumford at Louisiana-Monroe in 2014 and 2015.
 
CONNECTIONS BETWEEN UTAH STATE AND NEW MEXICO STATE PLAYERS
• There are four connections between Utah State and New Mexico State players. USU senior OL Rob Castaneda attended Ellsworth (Iowa) CC, as did NMSU senior WR Johnathan Boone. USU junior DE Devon Anderson attended Dodge City (Kan.) CC, as did NMSU sophomore WR Caleb Mills. USU junior RB Darwin Thompson attended Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, as did NMSU junior OL Kris'Sean Edwards. And, USU junior CB DJ Williams attended Independence (Kan.) CC, as did NMSU junior DB Ray Buford Jr.
 
AGGIES IN OVERTIME
• Utah State is 6-6 all-time in overtime, winning three of its last five. All-time, USU is 4-3 in single-overtime games, 2-2 in double-overtime games, and 0-1 in triple-overtime games. USU's last overtime game was a 26-20 loss against New Mexico State in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl on Dec. 29, 2017. 
 
DID YOU KNOW?
• Utah State has 36 players in its program from the Beehive State, while New Mexico State has nine players on its roster from the Land of Enchantment.
 
• Utah State returns 17 starters (O-9, D-8) and 41 players (O-17, D-22, S-2) that played against New Mexico State in the 2017 NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.
 
LAST MEETING vs. NEW MEXICO STATE
TUCSON, Ariz. – Senior RB LaJuan Hunt capped his Utah State (6-7) career by rushing for 133 yards – the most yardage by an Aggie this season – and one touchdown on 20 carries in Utah State's 26-20 overtime loss to New Mexico State in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, held here at Arizona Stadium on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017.
               
Hunt, who finished his career with 1,846 yards rushing, the 11th-most in school history, and 18 touchdowns, which is tied for the 10th-most, scored on a 1-yard run with 13:28 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the designated home team a 20-13 lead.
               
New Mexico State RB Larry Rose III scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime on a 21-yard run after Utah State sophomore PK Dominik Eberle hit the right upright from 29 yards out.
               
New Mexico State (7-6) tied it at 20-apiece on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Rogers to Jaleel Scott with 6:31 remaining. Rogers completed 29-of-54 passes for 191 yards. Rose led the NewMags in both rushing and receiving as he had 142 yards on 16 carries on the ground, to go along with six receptions for 48 yards.
               
New Mexico State entered the game ranked fourth in the nation averaging 352.6 passing yards per game, but Utah State limited the NewMags to 191 yards – 161.6 below their season average.
               
The navy-cladded Aggies shined defensively as they forced three turnovers, including interceptions by redshirt freshman LB David Woodward and senior BS Dallin Leavitt, along with a fumble recovery by junior LB Chase Christiansen. Christiansen led USU with eight tackles, including 1.0 tackles for loss. Leavitt added seven stops, while Woodward had four stops and a career-best three pass breakups.
               
Redshirt freshman QB Jordan Love was 25-of-44, both of which are career-highs, for 254 yards. His favorite target was junior WR Ron'quavion Tarver, who caught eight passes for 97 yards.
               
Utah State had numerous chances to put more points on the board, but four missed field goals and a turnover in the red zone after having a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line spelled doom.
               
The first half started with a bang as the two teams combined to score 17 points in less than a one-minute span, courtesy of a field goal and back-to-back kickoff returns for touchdowns.
               
New Mexico State's Dylan Brown opened the scoring with a 23-yard field goal to give the designated visitors a 3-0 lead with 11:15 remaining in the first quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, freshman WR Savon Scarver returned the kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, making it 7-3 for USU just 14 seconds later.
               
Scarver's kickoff return for a touchdown was the first-ever in a bowl game for Utah State and tied for the sixth-longest in school history.
               
However, USU's lead was short-lived as NMSU returned the next kickoff 100 yards, giving the white-cladded Aggies a 10-7 lead.
               
Those were the only touchdowns of the first half, though. Eberle tied the score at 10-all with a 35-yard field goal, then New Mexico State regained the lead on a 33-yard field goal.
               
Brown booted a 33-yard field goal to give the NewMags a 13-10 lead with 11:35 left in the half, but Eberle countered with a 30-yard field goal as time expired on the second quarter, sending the two teams into the break deadlocked at 13-apiece.
 
LAST HOME MEETING vs. NEW MEXICO STATE
LOGAN, Utah – Utah State (6-2, 2-0 WAC) became bowl eligible for the second-straight year with a 41-7 rout against New Mexico State (1-6, 0-2 WAC) at Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium on Oct. 20, 2012.
               
Utah State becomes bowl eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1960 and 1961. USU has also now won seven-straight Western Athletic Conference games, its longest conference winning streak since the 1979 and 1980 teams won seven Big West games in a row, and its 6-2 start is its best since the 1978 team won seven of its first nine.
               
Sophomore QB Chuckie Keeton was 16-of-26 passing for 257 yards and two touchdowns, the first on a 76-yard screen pass to senior RB Kerwynn Williams on USU's first play from scrimmage. Williams ended the day with three catches for 94 yards, while adding 13 carries for 82 yards with a touchdown.
               
Keeton also rushed seven times for 81 yards with two touchdowns, including a career-long 76 yard run on USU's first possession of the second quarter to give the home team a 21-0 lead as USU amassed 256 rushing yards with three touchdowns.
               
Utah State also totalled 260 yards through the air as sophomore QB Craig Harrison completed his lone pass of the afternoon for three yards.
               
Senior WR Chuck Jacobs had four catches for 94 yards, with 49 yards coming on a scoring strike from Keeton for USU's second touchdown of the first quarter.
               
Junior LB Jake Doughty led the USU defense with 10 tackles, while senior CB Will Davis tallied eight stops, including two tackles for loss and also snared his first career interception that he returned out of NMSU's end zone for 35 yards. Redshirt freshman LB Kyler Fackrell also had eight tackles and blocked a 42-yard New Mexico State field goal attempt, USU's fourth blocked kick this season.
               
Utah State connected on two field goals, as sophomore PK Nick Diaz boomed a career-long 53-yarder early in the third quarter and added a 48-yarder at the start of the fourth stanza. The 53-yard field goal was USU's longest since a 56-yarder by Chris Ulinski in 2008, which also came at home against New Mexico State. Diaz's field goal is tied for the eighth-longest in school history.
               
New Mexico State QB Andrew Manley was 19-of-37 for 177 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Manley connected with Austin Franklin for a 6-yard touchdown at the 8:15 mark of the third quarter for the visitor's only score of the afternoon.
               
New Mexico State finished with 321 yards of total offense (189-passing, 132-rushing).
               
Davis Cazares posted a game-high 12 tackles and blocked a Diaz field goal attempt in the fourth quarter to pace the visitor's defense.
               
Williams and Jacobs' long catch and run scoring plays gave USU the early 14-0 lead as the navy Aggies have now out-scored their opposition, 82-3, in the first quarter.
               
Utah State took a 28-0 lead into halftime, as Williams added a 3-yard run with 39 seconds before intermission to improve the northern Aggies to a 144-42 first-half scoring advantage this season.
               
Diaz's 53-yarder put USU ahead 31-0 before NMSU got on the board with the scoring pass. Keeton's 9-yard run came with 1:01 to go in the third quarter and Diaz capped the scoring with his 48-yard upright split with 12:13 left in the game.
 
FROM THE RECORD BOOKS
Here is a look at some of the top Utah State team and individual statistical performances against New Mexico State over the years.
 
• Emmett White set a school and NCAA record with 578 all-purpose yards, and a school-record 322 rushing yards (34 att.) against New Mexico State in 2000.
 
• Brent Snyder set school records for passing yards per attempt (14.1) and passing yards per completion (19.9) against New Mexico State in 1988, as he was 17-of-24 for 339 yards.
 
• Chris Pella set school records for extra points made (9) and attempted (10) against New Mexico State in 1964.
 
• Dene Garner made a school-record 59-yard field goal against New Mexico State in 1986. Garner also made a 51-yard field goal against NMSU in 1986, which is tied for the 18th-longest in school history.
 
• Chris Ulinski made a 56-yard field goal against New Mexico State in 2008, which is tied for the third-longest in school history.
 
• Sean Jones made a 54-yard field goal against New Mexico State in 1992, which is tied for the sixth-longest in school history.
 
• Nick Diaz made a 53-yard field goal against New Mexico State in 2012, which is tied for the eighth-longest in school history.
 
• Roger Grant rushed for 205 yards against New Mexico State in 1991, which is tied for the 24th-most in a single game in school history.
 
• Demario Brown rushed for 204 yards against New Mexico State in 1998, which ranks as the 25th-most in a game in school history.
 
• Matt Sauk passed for 371 yards against New Mexico State in 1997, which ranks as the 19th-most in a single game in school history.
 
• Kevin Alexander had 205 receiving yards against New Mexico State in 1995, which ranks as the 14th-most in a single game in school history.
 
• Utah State committed a school-record 19 penalties against New Mexico State in 1972.
 
• Utah State produced 619 yards of total offense against New Mexico State in 2000 and 605 yards against NMSU in 1996, which ranks as the ninth- and 10th-most yards in a single game in school history.
 
• Utah State had 393 passing yards against New Mexico State in 1997, which ranks as the 15th-most in a single game in school history.
 
• Utah State limited New Mexico State to 100  yards of total offense in 1964, which ranks as the eighth-fewest in a single game in school history.
 
• Utah State limited New Mexico State to 18 passing  yards in 1964 and 21 passing yards in 1958, which ranks as the seventh- and 10th-fewest in a single game in school history.
 
• Utah State limited New Mexico State to minus seven yards rushing in 2008 and 1 yard rushing in 1985, which ranks as the eighth- and 15th-fewest in a single game in school history.
 
SERIES NOTABLES BETWEEN UTAH STATE AND NEW MEXICO STATE
The following are series notables between Utah State and New Mexico State dating back to 1960 and encompassing the last 38 meetings. 
 
• In 38 games in series history, Utah State has scored 563 more points than New Mexico State, 1,219-656, for an average score of 32.1-17.3.
 
• Four of the last five games in the series, and 13 overall, have been decided by one score. Of New Mexico State's eight wins, only two have been by double digits, while 21 of Utah State's wins have been by double digits.
 
• The winning team has scored at least 20 points in each of the 13 previous meetings,  and in 34 of the 38 meetings overall. USU has scored at least 40 points 13 times in series history, while NMSU has scored at least 40 points just once.
 
• In seven of Utah State's last 12 wins in the series, it has lost the time of possession.
 
• The team with fewer turnovers is 10-3 in the last 16 meetings.
 
• The team that has more rushing yards has won nine of the last 11 games in the series.
 
• The team that scores first is just 10-6 in the last 16 meetings, while the team that leads at the half is 8-4 in the last 16 meetings, with four of those games being tied at the half.
 
• All-time against New Mexico State, Utah State has had 18 100-yard rushers, which ranks as the second-most against any opponent in school history, 13 100-yard receivers, which ranks as the second-most against any opponent in school history, and four 300-yard passers, which ranks as the sixth-most against any opponent in school history.
 
• In the past 16 meetings with Utah State, New Mexico State has had seven 100-yard receivers, five 100-yard rushers, and one 300-yard passer.
 
• Utah State's 76-0 win against New Mexico State in 1964 ranks as the fifth-largest margin of victory in school history. Overall, there have been just two shutouts in series history as USU posted a 34-0 home win against NMSU in 1971, to go along with its 76-0 home win in 1964.
 
• Utah State has played in 12 overtime games in school history, including a 29-26 road win against New Mexico State in 1998 and a 26-20 loss in 2017. In fact, New Mexico State is one of only two opponent USU has had multiple overtime games against, with the other being New Mexico.
 
DID YOU KNOW?
• Utah State head coach Matt Wells posted a banner day against New Mexico State as a sophomore in 1994, throwing for a career-high 247 yards on 20-of-39 passing with three touchdowns, in leading USU to a 47-20 win.
 
• Utah State assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Frank Maile played in three games against New Mexico State during his USU career as a defensive end and recorded six tackles, which included 0.5 tackles for loss, to go along with one fumble recovery and one pass breakup. His best game against NMSU was as a junior, as he recorded 5.0 tackles, including 0.5 tackles for loss.
 
• Utah State director of football operations Waqa Damuni was a tight end for Utah State from 1996-98 and played against New Mexico State all three seasons.

To follow the Aggies visit utahstateaggies.com.

Sky Optics Media drone video