New Mexico State’s non-conference schedule consolidation as it transitions from independence to Conference USA has been one of the more intriguing developments of this realignment cycle. The process is nearly complete as the Aggies still need to reduce its non-conference schedule from six games to four in 2024.
Unfortunately, intriguing non-conference series like the home-and-home with Air Force were casualties, and last week New Mexico State lost another crucial series. New Mexico State and UTSA agreed to cancel their four-game home-and-home series for 2024, 2025, 2026, and 2029.
Instead, New Mexico State kept Northern Illinois, Fresno State, Louisiana, Abilene Christian, New Mexico, and Texas A&M on the schedule, still needing to drop three games from their 2024 non-conference slate. In 2025, the Aggies dropped the Roadrunners in favor of Central Michigan, Hawaii, and New Mexico.
The move is puzzling since New Mexico State has only three non-conference games in 2025 and one in 2026 and 2029. With recruiting and the high-profile nature of the opponent in mind, it is hard to find anything salvageable about the decision.
While not an NFL stadium, the Alamodome is one of the more big-time venues in the Group of Five. The dome has housed preseason NFL games, the New Orleans Saints during Hurricane Katrina, the San Antonio Spurs, and even MLB Spring Training games. Unless New Mexico State schedules Miami or Temple, the Aggies will rarely have opportunities to play in venues like the Alamodome. New Mexico State could have had an easy recruiting edge over the other schools in Conference USA, which rarely have games in NFL stadiums.
Furthermore, UTSA was a fanbase that had the potential to travel well to Las Cruces. Only two Conference USA cohorts are a drivable distance from Las Cruces, so hosting UTSA would have been a remarkable revenue boost for the program and the local economy.
Additionally, UTSA’s recent success made this game a high-profile game locally. UTSA is on track to contend for a spot in the 12-team playoff. If UTSA made the 12-team playoff before their scheduled visit to Las Cruces in 2026, this easily would have made it the most high-profile team to visit Las Cruces since BYU in 2012 or Minnesota and Boston College in 2013.
The decision is even more confusing after comparing the schools New Mexico State left on its 2024 non-conference schedule. It does not take a genius to realize people are more likely to travel from San Antonio to Las Cruces from Mount Pleasant, Michigan, Dekalb, Illinois, or Lafayette, Louisiana. Keeping the home-and-home with Hawaii in 2026 and 2027 significantly burdens the program fiscally.
Additionally, while the schools mentioned above have been in the running for BCS/New Year’s Six bids, none have the upside or potential to draw casual fans that UTSA has. If New Mexico State really wanted to honor these commitments, they could have postponed these series. They could have given these schools a head-start on non-conference scheduling. This is not rare as several programs shift dates to many years ahead.
New Mexico State’s schedule consolidation is a tedious process. However, the UTSA series should have been an easy decision for the Aggies to keep. Beyond everything else, who does not love a classic rematch between two former WAC rivals? The Aggies and college football fans alike lost an opportunity to experience a unique home-and-home series.