For the 2nd consecutive season, Liberty and NMSU will face each other twice with the very unusual in-season home and home. The two FBS Independents will have played each other 4 times in 2 years by the end of 2019, but they are not scheduled to meet again until November 2022.
New Mexico St. Aggies
Coach: Doug Martin is entering his 7th season as head coach at NMSU, with a record of 20-53. In addition to several stints as an offensive coordinator at East Carolina, Kent State, NMSU, and Boston College, Martin also was head coach at Kent State from 2004-10, compiling a 29-53 mark. His Aggie teams have finished 2-10 or 3-9 in each season except for a 7-6 mark in 2017.
2018 Record: 3-9
Last Season: New Mexico State opened the season 0-4 following blowout losses to Wyoming, Minnesota, Utah State, and New Mexico. Martin then turned the reigns of the offense over to redshirt-freshman Josh Adkins who compiled a 3-5 record as a starter. Adkins passed for 2,563 yards with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 10 games last season, doing so while primarily working with the 3rd string during spring and fall practice. Jason Huntley was another bright spot for the offense, as he had 1,632 all-purpose yards and finished 2nd on the team in both rushing and receiving yards.
Adkins saw some success despite a struggling offensive line that allowed more than 40 sacks during the season. As a whole, the offense saw its worst performance under Martin, finishing 96th in the country in total offense.
The defense struggled, ranking near the bottom of the country in total defense allowing over 475 yards of offense per game. They allowed over 60 points in two separate games and 6 other times allowed at least 40 points.
2019 Outlook: The Aggies return several key pieces of their team as they hope to rebound to a winning record and bowl appearance in 2019. Josh Adkins cemented himself as the starter following the great end to the 2018 campaign he had. NMSU also returns Jason Huntley who is a threat in both the run and pass game. Martin hopes his offense will have a more consistent run game behind a revamped offensive line.
The Aggies lost 3 starters from last year’s line, and will have new starters at center, right guard, and right tackle. NMSU brought in a couple of JUCO transfers to try to solidify their font line. They will also be without leading receiver Johnathan Boone, but have enough depth to make do there. Drew Dan and OJ Clark both had solid seasons and there are other unproven pieces that could move into the rotation. The Aggies also welcome Baylor graduate transfer Tony Nicholson to the wide receiver group.
On defense, New Mexico State returns the nation’s top tackler in linebacker Javahn Ferguson but will have to replace several key pieces including Terrill Hanks who signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent. Like the offense, Martin will also turn to some JUCO transfers to plug in gaps on defense.
New Mexico State has a tough schedule, opening their season on the road at Washington State and Alabama. In November, the Aggies will also pay a visit to SEC member Ole Miss.
Liberty Game Date: Saturday, October 5
Location: Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, NM
Odds of Liberty Victory: 54 percent
Very Early Outlook: The season series was split last year, with each team winning at home by just a touchdown. The Flames were favored to win both, but were unable to come out on top in the first meeting which came on the heels of two consecutive trips to New Mexico. This year, however, Liberty will be coming off three consecutive home dates before heading to New Mexico and the following week the Flames have an open date. Liberty was certainly even with the Aggies in 2018, but with an extra year of development and recruiting at the FBS level, the Flames could surpass NMSU this year. Without having to deal with the extra travel, look for the Flames to come out on top in the first game of the series in 2019.