The New Mexico State (1-7, 0-4) football team travel to Auburn (1-7, 0-6) to face what could be their toughest games of the 2012 season. The Aggies will not only face the Tigers on the weekend but will also play in front of a crowd of over 87,000 fans. Kick-off is set for 10:30 a.m. (MT)
The Tigers have dropped four in a row and are 1-2 at home this season. This will be the second game of a four game home stand for Auburn.
The Tigers and Aggies squared off for the first time in 1993, as NM State lost 55-14.
You can listen to all the action with the 'Voice of the Aggies' Jack Nixon on KGRT 104 FM, as well as listen to the game in Spanish with Martin Cortez on Vista 98.7 FM.
The game will also be televised on Comcast Sports Southeast.
NM State and Auburn will lock up for the third time in program history on Saturday. This will be the third trip to Auburn, Ala., for the Aggies. In the previous two meeting the Aggies fell 50-14 in 1993 and 55-20 in 2007.
Scouting the Tigers
Auburn comes into the game with the Aggies at 1-7 overall and 0-6 in SEC play. This season the Tigers are 1-4 at home with their only win coming in overtime against Sun Belt opponent Louisiana-Monroe. Auburn has four straight games at home before wrapping up the season at rival Alabama.
Auburn has struggled offensively this season, scoring just 16.4 points per game, while allowing 29.9 points a contest. The Tigers are averaging 284.0 yards per game, giving up over 444 yards in total offense per contest.
Individually, quarterback Kiehl Frazier leads the Tigers in passing with 753 yards and two touchdowns, but has thrown eight interceptions. Tre Mason has 554 rushing yards for an average of 69.2 yards per game and five touchdowns. Emory Blake has caught 35 passes for 531 yards and three scores to lead the receiving corps.
Defensively, Daren Bates leads the Tigers with 80 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, two sack and the team's lone interception, followed by Demetruce McNeal with 74 tackles. Corey Lemonier leads Auburn with five sacks on the season.
Aggies Against the SEC
Since 1977 the Aggies have faced a team from the current SEC (Southeastern Conference) 12 times. NM State is 0-14 all-time against SEC schools. The first game against an SEC team came in 1977 versus Arkansas when the Aggies fell to the Hogs 53-10. The last SEC team NM State has faced was Georgia in 2011. The Aggies lost 63-16.
The Aggies closest game against an SEC team came in 2002, when the Aggies played South Carolina to a 34-24 decision. NM State has faced Auburn twice back in 1993 and 2007.
NM State vs Auburn, 2007
A week after being booed and benched, Brandon Cox passed for 135 yards and a touchdown as Auburn broke open what had been a close game in the second half to defeat New Mexico State 55-20 Saturday night.
Cox's passing complemented the running of Ben Tate and Mario Fannin. Tate rushed 21 times for 112 yards and a touchdown, while Fannin ran the ball 15 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns, including a 67-yarder in the fourth quarter.
The game was redemption for both Cox and Fannin. Cox, a fifth year senior who started the last two years, was benched early in last week's upset loss to Mississippi State and was mostly ineffective in Auburn's 1-2 start. After booing Cox lustily last week, fans were hollering "Brandon! Brandon!" after he threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Rod Smith early in the third quarter.
Fannin had fumbled three times in the first three games, but held onto the ball against the Aggies after spending the week carrying a football every where he went on campus. His three touchdowns were the most by an Auburn player since 2005.
Auburn (2-2) held a slim 21-20 lead at halftime. Cox, who came in during the second quarter, gave the Tigers a spark as they outscored the Aggies 34-0 in the second half.
New Mexico State (2-2) was led by Chase Holbrook, who completed 29-of-40 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns, but had three interceptions. Auburn's Johnathan Wilhite had two of those interceptions.
Freshman quarterback Kodi Burns, who saw his first action last week, started instead of Cox. The Tigers started slow, failing to get a first down in their first two possessions.
The defense got Auburn on the board at 7:33 in the first quarter when Pat Sims recovered a fumble by the Aggies' A.J. Harris and returned it 21 yards for a score. It was the first time Auburn had scored first this season.
The Aggies came back as Holbrook got the passing game going, driving 80-yards in 10 plays, including a 44-yard completion over the middle to Nick Cleaver. Holbrook scored on one-yard sneak as the Aggies tied the score 7-7 at 3:51 in the first.
Auburn took the lead on the next play from scrimmage when Burns hit Rod Smith with a 58 yard scoring pass.
New Mexico State tied it again on a 5-yard pass from Holbrrok to Brandon Allen. The Aggies took a 20-14 lead two plays later.
On his first play, Cox fumbled the snap on Auburn's next play and Holbrook followed with a 25-yard TD pass to Chris Williams.
Cox had better luck on Auburn's next possession, leading the Tigers on a 9-play, 62-yard drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Fannin, giving the Tigers a 21-20 lead.
Morrison Continues to Run Strong
Running back Germi Morrison has stepped into the lead running back position over the last few games for the Aggies. Against Utah State, Morrison had a career-high 96 yards on 19 carries. He also caught a career-high four passes for 28 yards. Versus Louisiana Tech, Morrison recorded his second straight game with over 90 yards rushing, while catching a career-high four passes for 51 yards.
On the season, Morrison has 451 yards on the ground to lead NM State on 91 carries with one touchdown. He is fifth on the WAC in rushing yards per game with 63.3. Morrison also has 11 catches for 91 yards on the year.
Harris a Tough Cornerback
Cornerback Jeremy Harris recorded a career-high three pass break ups against No. 24 Louisiana Tech He also had six tackles for the second straight week. Over the course of the last three games, Harris has 16 tackles and five pass break ups. On the season he leads the team in pass break ups with eight, ranking him fifth in the WAC. He also ranks tied for seventh in the conference in forced fumbles with two, which also leads the Aggies.
On the season, Harris has 39 tackles, an interception, eight pass break ups and two forced fumbles.
Cazares Leads Team in Tackles
Safety Davis Cazares currently leads the team in tackles with 83 thru eight games. He also leads the WAC in tackles per game and is 18th in the nation. Cazares had a career day against New Mexico with 19 tackles and a forced fumble. He had eight solo tackles and 11 assisted. On the season, Cazares has recorded five games with double-digit tackles.
Cazares' previous high was 10 tackles against Sacramento State to start the season. He then followed that performance with a 10 tackles against UTSA. This past weekend, Cazares had 15 tackles about No. 24 Louisiana Tech.
In 2011, Cazares played in 13 games for the Aggies on special teams and at safety. He tallied 12 tackles on the season. Cazares recorded a season-high three tackles against Fresno State (Nov. 12) and two tackles versus Ohio (Sept. 3), New Mexico (Oct. 1) and Nevada (Oct. 29).
For his career, Cazares has 103 tackles and a forced fumble.
Walls' Continues to be Major Factor
Tight end Trevor Walls continues to be a productive play maker for the Aggies this season. Against Louisiana Tech, Walls had two catches for 26 yards with along of 20 yards. Each catch on third and long. Versus Utah State, Walls caught a single game career-high three passes for 37 yards and a long of 29 yards, also a career-high. Walls is averaging 11.5 yards a catch with one touchdown.
For his career, Walls has 19 receptions for 236 yards and a touchdown, averaging 12.4 yards a catch.
Sacking the QB
The Aggie defense had three sacks against Utah State this past weekend. It was the most for the Aggies as a team this season. NM State has recorded three of more sacks in a game only four other times since the 2009 season. Donte Savage had two against Utah State, while Trashaun Nixon recorded the other sack.
On the season, NM State has 10 sacks.
Savage Close to Breaking into Top-5
Defensive end Donte Savage had his best game of the 2012 season against Utah State. Savage tied a season-high six tackles, two sacks, two and half tackles for a loss and four quarterback hurries. He was named an honorable mention Defensive Lineman of the Week by College Football Performance.
On the season, Savage has three sacks and 32 tackles. His six tackles for a loss ranks him ninth in the WAC, while his three sacks' leads the team.
For his career, Savage has 132 tackles, 27.0 for a loss, four forced fumbles, three recovered fumbles, a blocked PAT and a blocked punt. Savage looks to make his mark on the sack record book. He currently has 14 for his career and needs two to break into the top five all-time at NM State.
Franklin Continues to Be the Aggies' Top Receiver
Wide receiver Austin Franklin recorded his sixth 100-yard receiving game of the season against Louisiana Tech with a team-leading seven catches for 139 yards. He has seven 100-yard receiving games in his career, including six this season (Sac State - 236; UTEP - 107; New Mexico - 107; UTSA - 105; Idaho - 115; Louisiana Tech - 139)
Franklin also leads the team in scoring with 56 points on nine touchdown receptions and a two-point conversion catch. He is tied for sixth in the conference in scoring with 7.0 points per game.
Nationally, Franklin ranks third in receiving yards per game, is 14th in receptions per game and 35th in all-purpose yards. He ranks first in the WAC in receiving yards per game and second in receptions per game.
Franklin saw action in all 13 games for NM State in 2011 at wide receiver and as a returner of kickoffs and punts. He grabbed 34 receptions for 524 yards and three touchdowns on the season, including 22 yards rushing on four carries. Franklin also returned three kicks for 103 yards including a long of 54. He registered a career-high eight receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown at BYU.
For his career, Franklin has caught 91 passes for 1,489 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 16.4 yards per catch.
The Lineman Chart
The offensive line is a position in the game of football that has no stats or glory but could possibly be one of the most important positions on the field. Let's take a look at the grade sheet for the NM State offensive line in week eight of the season.
Guard Andy Cunningham led the Aggies with eight knockdowns against Louisiana Tech.
Callender Stepping Up at Safety
Safety George Callender has made is impact felt in the Aggie secondary this season. Versus No. 24 Louisiana Tech, Callender recorded a career-high 14 tackles. Against Utah State, Callender tallied nine tackles. It was the third time this season that Callender recorded nine tackles in a game. On the season, Callender has 58 tackles, 37 of those are solo efforts.
He ranks ninth in the WAC with 7.1 tackles per game. Franklin's Award List Grows
New Mexico State wide receiver Austin Franklin was added to the 2012 Biletnikoff Watch List in late September and most recently was named a fourth team Mid-Season All-American by Phil Steele Magazine.
The award is named for Fred Biletnikoff, the Florida State University All-America receiver and a Pro-Football Hall of Famer. The award has been given out for the past 17 years. This is the second straight season an Aggie wide receiver has been named to the watch list. (Taveon Rogers - 2011)
Franklin has caught 57 passes for 965 yards and nine touchdowns, leading the Aggies. He has also tallied 1,030 all-purpose yards.
The recipient of the 2012 Biletnikoff Award will be announced live on ESPN on The Home Depot College Football Awards in early December. The Biletnikoff Award Presentation Banquet will be held at the University Center Club at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013.
Nixon the Man in the Middle
Linebacker Trashaun Nixon had a career game against Idaho. On the first play of the game, Nixon recorded his first career interception. He also a team-high eight tackles, two tackles for a loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two quarterback hurries.
He followed that performance with seven tackles, a sack, a tackles for a loss and a quarterback hurry versus Utah State. He then added eight tackles against No. 24 Louisiana Tech.
Over the last three games, Nixon has 23 tackles, averaging 7.75 tackles a game and a sack.
Nixon is third in the WAC with 8.2 tackles a game, ranking 85th in the country. He is also third in the WAC in tackles for a loss.
On the season, Nixon is second on the team in tackles with 66, with eight tackles for a loss, a sack, four quarterback hurries, two pass break ups, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception.
Bateman Coming on as of Late
Wide receiver Kemonte Bateman has been quietly putting up numbers over the last six games for NM State. He has recorded at least five receptions in five of the six games, including a season-high seven against UTEP and UTSA. He also had a career-high 115 yards versus UTEP. Bateman has three touchdowns in the last six games.
Since the UTEP game, Bateman has 32 receptions, which is second on the team, 415 yards receiving, averaging 13.0 yards a catch and three touchdowns, averaging 69.2 yards a contest.
On the season, Bateman has caught 38 passes for 493 yards and three scores. He ranks fourth in the WAC in receiving yards per game and fifth in receptions per game.
Manley by the Numbers
This season, Manley has thrown for 2,090 yards and 12 touchdowns, completing 54.4 percent of his passes.
Against UTEP, Manley surpassed the 2,000-yard passing mark with 290 yards on 20-of-47 passing. Manley has thrown for over 200 yards in a game nine times in his career and has now thrown a touchdown pass in nine straight games. Against Idaho, Manley recorded his third 300-yard passing game, with 309 yards on 28-of-45 passing and a touchdown. He broke the 3,000-yard passing mark for his career in that game as well.
Manley is currently fourth in the WAC in passing yards per game (261.2) and fourth in total offense per game (249.2).
For his career, Manley has thrown for 3,586 yards and 21 touchdowns, while completing 54.4 percent of his pass attempts.
Additions to the Staff in 2012
The Aggies welcome four new coaches to the staff in 2012. Jerry McManus takes over as offensive coordinator for the departed Doug Martin, while David Elson will handle the defensive coordinator duties after the retirement of Dale Lindsey. Both McManus and Elson have several years at the college level as top assistants, while Elson holds head coaching experience.
Brad Bedell comes to NM State as the new offensive line coach, while Romeo Bandison will oversee the defensive line. Bedell and Bandison each have professional football playing experience, while Bandison has coached at top programs like Boise State and Colorado.
Honors in 2011
The New Mexico State football team received several honors after the 2011 football season both for on-the-field accomplishments and in the classroom. Taveon Rogers was selected as a third team Yahoo Sports and honorable mention Pro Football Weekly All-American teams. Five players including Rogers, Donyae Coleman, Davonte Wallace, Jonte Green and Kenny Turner all garnered All-WAC honors the most all-conference picks since joining the WAC. Valerian Ume-Ezeoke was also named to the Rivals.com Freshman All-WAC team. Defensive lineman David Niumatalolo was selected as CoSIDA Academic All-American, the team's first Academic All-American since 1999. The Aggies also landed 16 players on the Academic All-WAC list.
House, Green and Rogers Playing in the NFL
The Aggies currently have three players in the NFL. Defensive back Davon House who was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, becoming the first Aggies to be drafted since 2003. In 2012, defensive back Jonte Green was selected in the sixth round by the Detroit Lions, while wide receiver/kick returner Taveon Rogers was signed as a free agent by the Cincinnati Bengals. Rogers has since moved to defensive back.
Aggies on Twitter
The Aggie Athletics department has a Twitter account where media and fans can get all your in-game scores at www.twitter.com/nmstateaggies. Head Coach DeWayne Walker also has a twitter account for all the latest football news, as media and fans can go to www.twitter.com/dwalkerfootball.