"We have to play the schedule we have, and we can't worry about others," NMSU head coach Tony Samuel said.
Every school in the Sun Belt, except Middle Tennessee, is playing designated league games in 2004. The Aggies also will play Florida Atlantic in a designated league game Nov. 13 in Boca Raton, Fla.
This year, the Aggies play at Arkansas on Sept. 4 to start the season, then go to Cal on Sept. 11.
NMSU then plays its first league contest at home on Sept. 18 against Troy State, followed by a home game with New Mexico, a trip to El Paso to play UTEP, and another home game Oct. 9 against Louisiana.
"We feel like we have a good stretch of games," Samuel said. "We've got our first league game at home and that's great. But I like the way our schedule plays out."
The Aggies will have an off-date Oct. 16, followed by a trip to North Texas on Oct. 23, a non-league game at home against future Sun Belt member Florida International, a SBC game at home against Middle Tennessee on Nov. 6, then two games on the road to finish the regular season at Florida Atlantic and Utah State.
Arkansas, Cal and New Mexico all played in bowl games last year, while Florida Atlantic went 11-3 and made the Division 1-AA semifinals.
"Arkansas is going to be good, California was the only team to beat Southern California last year and our league teams will be tough," Samuel said. "We're looking forward to playing against really good teams. We have a good off- date on Oct. 16. It's not too early in the season."
San Jose State originally was on the schedule but opted out. Samuel said that San Jose State has something set up with Grambling.
"We'll be playing San Jose State in the WAC," Samuel said.
Next season will be the last for the Aggies in the Sun Belt. NMSU will start play in the Western Athletic Conference in 2005.
California is still on schedule to play New Mexico State in Las Cruces in 2005 as part of a two-for- one deal. The Aggies played in Berkeley in 2002 in the first part of the three-games series.
"Playing a Pac-10 team in Las Cruces will be huge," Samuel said. "We'll have a very good opponent coming in and providing us with a challenge."
Overall we think we have a real interesting schedule. We have five home games & altho we don't get to play everybody in the league. We will play Florida Atlantic and Florida International and one of those will count as a conference game and one of them won't. I like the meat of the schedule. It's a good schedule."
2004 New Mexico State Football Schedule
September 4 At Arkansas Fayetteville, Ark.
September 11 At California Berkeley, Calif.
September 18 Troy State* Las Cruces, N.M.
September 25 New Mexico# Las Cruces, N.M.
October 2 At UTEP# El Paso, Texas
October 9 Louisiana* Las Cruces, N.M.
October 23 At North Texas* Denton, Texas
October 30 Florida International (HC) Las Cruces, N.M.
November 6 Middle Tennessee* Las Cruces, N.M.
November 13 At Florida Atlantic# Boca Raton, Fla.
November 20 At Utah State* Logan, Utah
(HC) - Homecoming
*Sun Belt Conference Game #Designated Sun Belt Conference Game
Times to be determined, dates subject to change