New Mexico State Seeks to Avenge Two Decades of Fresno State Dominance In the New Mexico Bowl

For years, New Mexico State and Fresno State were on opposite ends of the WAC spectrum. On Saturday, the Aggies can even the playing field in the New Mexico Bowl

New Mexico State is 1-18 all-time against Fresno State
Source: Nathan J Fish/Las Cruces Sun-News

"Anyone, anytime, anywhere." Pat Hill's fearless mantra helped elevate Fresno State into the national consciousness during the early and mid-2000s. On his way to a 112-80 mark in his 15 years at Fresno State, Hill won 18 games against Power Five and Big East teams. While Hill beat Power Five conference champions like 2001 Colorado and nearly beat 2005 USC, games against New Mexico State provided a brief reprieve from the gauntlets Hill's teams played yearly.

While Fresno State gained national respect, New Mexico State continued to reel on the other side of the Western Athletic Conference. While Fresno State went 48-42 from 2005-2011 and appeared in four bowl games, New Mexico State went 20-67 while their bowl drought reached five decades.

When both teams resided in the WAC from 2005-2011, Fresno State went 6-1 against the Aggies, with their six wins coming by an average score of 30-13. Even when including the Aggies' 48-45 win in 2011, the average margin of defeat in the series remains at 13.

Fresno State's domination of the Aggies does not end with both schools' tenure in the WAC. From 1984-1991, both schools were PCAA and later Big West members. New Mexico State was one of the worst teams in the country, amassing a 10-78 record.

On the other hand, Fresno State had arguably its most successful run ever under Jim Sweeney. The Bulldogs went 71-20-2 and appeared in four bowls while being snubbed in years when they went 8-2-1 and 9-2. The Bulldogs won every meeting against the Aggies as PCAA/Big West members, winning by an average score of 40-13. From 1988-1990, New Mexico State failed to score a touchdown against the Bulldogs.

Luckily, New Mexico State finally avenged nearly two decades of frustration against Fresno State in 2011. The Bulldogs were on the way to a lackluster 4-9 record in Pat Hill's final year when a 37-yard touchdown by Taveon Rogers with under two minutes left gave the Aggies their first series win in 18 tries by a score of 48-45.

Since leaving the WAC, the teams have met only once, a 2019 meeting that saw Fresno State win 30-17. Now, the gap between the two schools seems to be closing. More importantly, this is a chance for the Aggies to get revenge on the Mountain West after years of exile as an independent.

Multiple wins against New Mexico over the years and a thrilling victory over Utah State in the 2017 Arizona Bowl are fond memories for Aggies fans, but hardly were a statement to the Mountain West. Beating one of the Mountain West's most consistent programs, one that has appeared in the conference championship three times since 2018 and won twice, is arguably the best revenge the Aggies can get on the Mountain West.

Last year, New Mexico State repaid Hawaii for seven years of dominance in the WAC. The stakes rise in this stop on the WAC revenge tour against Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl. A win against Fresno State would bring Jerry Kill's transformation of New Mexico State full circle.