The University of New Mexico Lobos and the New Mexico State University Aggies have a history stretching back longer than New Mexico's statehood, and the impact is still evident in fans today.
New Mexico's statehood was made official in 1912, but the Lobos and the Aggies were no strangers to each other at that point. They played their first rival game in 1894 and have never stopped playing. The long-going series just finished its 104th game with a Lobo win 27-14 at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces on Sept. 22.
"It's pretty unique, I mean we were a territory when they first started playing this rivalry game. I think people care. There is always that division, whether it's Aggies or Lobos. But in the end, they're all New Mexicans and that's why it's important that there is that rivalry. Competition breeds success," said Coach Jason Lenzmeier, the offensive line coach for the Lobos.
According to an article in the Las Cruces Sun-News, the series is the 35th longest rivalry series in the nation. The series has seen varying results, such as the 18-year win streak for the Lobos from 1938-1958, and the 110-3 win for the Aggies in 1917. The win this year for the Lobos ended a 4-year road loss streak for the team — the longest road loss streak in the nation.
"It's always the biggest game of the year, you know, that's the rivalry game ... with any sport that's kind of a big deal. You have the in-state rivalry, and those bragging rights if you win," Lenzmeier said.
According to Lenzmeier, a former offensive player for the Lobos, the rivalry has always been very competitive between the students from both universities, and the Associate Vice President for Development at NMSU, Deb Widger, who is also an Aggie alumna, agrees.
"It's your state game, it's between the two bigger institutions in the state. And it boils down to the year that whichever team wins. It's just an energetic opportunity for both schools. It's an opportunity for us to be the best for a year, or for the Lobos to be the best," Widger said.
The rivalry continues to influence and affect students at both UNM and NMSU as they identify themselves as being Lobos or Aggies and experience the in-state competition for themselves.
"I went to the state game, and I could tell the energy between both teams. For the football players I knew it was really important for them, not only because it was the Aggies, it wasn't at home so it meant more," said Anyssa Macias, a UNM freshman.
The series in its 104 years has not yet seen its end, and both New Mexico schools await the promise of next year's rivalry football game.
"I have never missed a football game since I was a student at NMSU. You know, in the last 104 years, I think the Lobos have actually beat us more times, but you never lose hope that we will win each year, each time," Widger said.