On Saturday, Auburn dropped a buy game in brutal 31-10 fashion to the New Mexico State Aggies. After the game, New Mexico State head coach Jerry Kill joked about the massive payday his team received from the SEC opponent.
“I walked in [to the locker room], I said, ‘Hey, we just got $1.7 million to play an SEC team. How ’bout that?” Kill recalled. “The kids, they’re all fired up. They’re wondering when they’re gonna get it. They want it to be all NIL money.”
The Aggies certainly earned it. New Mexico State amassed 414 yards in the win compared to Auburn’s mere 213. The Aggies rushed for 213 yards on the ground alone. Auburn couldn’t find its footing all game, converting on just 20% of its third-down attempts.
Before Saturday, New Mexico State was 0-27 all-time against SEC opponents. Moreover, the Aggies were 0-3 all-time against the Tigers, having last played in 2012. This marked the second time in two years Kill has defeated Hugh Freeze, having beaten the former Liberty coach last year 49-14.
Jerry Kill soaks in the moment
While it’s not his first time slaying a giant, Kill didn’t take the victory on Saturday for granted.
“You don’t get many opportunities like this,” Kill said. “We’re playing a Southeastern Conference football team, and we dominated the football game most of the time. We killed ourselves in some penalties, but our kids played with relentless effort. Some were hurt.
“I’ve had a lot of great moments, but I’m not going to take this lightly. It’s a huge win and it goes down as one of the greatest wins that I’ve been part of.”
A New Mexico State win wasn’t part of Auburn’s plans. In Freeze’s debut season at the helm, Auburn is 6-5 and hunting for its first season with seven or more wins since 2019. SEC Network analyst Paul Finebaum doesn’t believe the loss will have long-term effects on the program.
“I don’t think there are any,” Finebaum said. “I say that based on what I’ve seen, overall, from Hugh Freeze this year, especially off the field. That’s really what the season was about; making sure that Auburn went out and got great players for the future and tried to get to a bowl game. It was about those 15 practices and Saturday didn’t change that.
“[New Mexico State] is a respectable team. This is just not some directional school that you can pick out of the sky. Hugh Freeze is well aware of who they are. He lost to them a year ago. I don’t know what you guys think, and you’ve certainly got a long show ahead, but I’m turning the page to Saturday.”