In 1996, Boise State Head Football Coach Pokey Allen resigned to fight the cancer that had invaded his body. He was replaced by his defensive coordinator, Tom Mason who led the Broncos to a 1 – 9 record in the first 10 games of the Broncos first season as a NCAA Division 1A football team and their first season in the Big West Conference.
Pokey returned to coach the game against New Mexico State. The game was in Las Cruces and New Mexico State was favored. New Mexico State had fired their football coach, Jim Hess the week before the game with Boise State. So New Mexico State would play the game with a lame duck coach. Players on both sides were very emotional for this game and wanted to get a victory for their coaches. Pokey led the Broncos to their first Division 1A football victory as a Division 1A team, beating the Aggies 33 to 32. Pokey Allen would die six weeks later.
Most of the games in this series were close games with the Broncos winning 52 to 10 in Boise in 1997, 55 to 51 in Las Cruces in 1998, 45 to 26 in Boise in 1999 and 34 to 31 in Las Cruces in 2000. Houston Nutt was the Boise State coach in 1997 and Dirk Koetter was the Boise State coach from 1998 to 2000. Tony Samuel was the head coach for the Aggies in all 4 of those games.
New Mexico State started playing football in 1893. Their overall football record is 405 wins, 517 losses and 32 ties for a winning percentage of 44%. They are one of only two WAC schools that have overall losing records in football. The other WAC school with an overall losing record is the University of Idaho.
New Mexico State has two major rivals. They have been playing the University of Texas – El Paso since 1914. UTEP leads the series with 47 wins, 33 losses and 2 ties. New Mexico State replaced UTEP in the WAC when UTEP left the WAC for Conference USA in 2005.
New Mexico State starting playing New Mexico in 1893. This instate rivalry is one of the oldest in the western United States. New Mexico leads the series with 63 wins, 28 losses and 4 ties. New Mexico was a member of the WAC Conference from 1985 to 1998.
From 1935 to 1951, New Mexico, UTEP, and New Mexico State were all members of the Border Conference. This was the only time that the rivals were in the same conference.
Here is a summary of the New Mexico State University Conference Affiliations:
1931-1961 Border Conference
1971-1982 Missouri Valley
1983-2000 Big West
2001 - 2004 Sun Belt
2005 - WAC