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WKU Football prepares for Homecoming contest against NMSU

Dominic Di Palermo
Cheerleaders meditate before a game against Middle Tennessee State University at L.T Smith Stadium in Bowling Green on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023.

It is Homecoming week at WKU and the Hilltoppers are looking to build upon their win against UTEP last week, and their 3-1 record at home, in a contest against New Mexico State. (7-3, 5-1 in Conference USA). The Hilltoppers (5-4, 3-2 in C-USA) will host the Aggies at Houchens-Smith Stadium Saturday, who are just a notch above them in the current conference standings.

NMSU is on a fiery five-game win streak, with quarterback Diego Pavia leading the way in an impressive manner. So far in his 2023 campaign, Pavia has completed 59.8% (143-of-239) of his passes for 2,116 yards, 17 touchdowns, and six interceptions. On the ground, Pavia is the Aggies leading rusher as well, with 659 yards and five touchdowns.

Aside from Pavia, who alone is fourth in the C-USA in rushing yards rushing touchdowns and third in passing yards and passing touchdowns, the Aggies have other dangerous weapons on offense. Receivers Jonathan Brady and Trent Hudson have combined for 45 receptions, 806 yards, and nine scores. On the ground, running backs Ahmonte Watkins and Star Thomas have led the way. The two have combined for 957 yards and six scores, averaging six yards per carry. 

Defensively, the Aggies unit as a whole ranks 62nd in the nation. On the ground, the New Mexico State defense is stout, sitting at 47th nationally. In the air, the defense ranks at 83rd in passing yards allowed and 61st in team passing defense efficiency. 

A lot of the Aggies defensive success is due in part to sophomore linebacker Keyshaun Elliott’s efforts. Through 10 games, Elliott has totaled 67 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 total sacks, a forced fumble, and three pass breakups. Cornerback Andre Seldon has been a major contributor to the defensive backfield, totaling 516 snaps. Seldon has been able to put up 39 tackles, two tackles for loss, an interception, and three pass deflections. He’s been a star in coverage, allowing just a 41.7% completion rate (17-of-41). 

The Hilltoppers have a tough task ahead of them: behind the efforts of Pavia and the Aggies’ stout and well-rounded defense, New Mexico State has turned themselves into a tall task for any Group of Five program.

Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30pm inside of Houchens- Smith Stadium as the Hilltoppers hope to secure a Homecoming weekend victory and bowl eligibility. The game can be streamed on ESPN+. 

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