He completed 9 of 16 passes for 164 yards. He had a throw into double coverage near the goal line intercepted but also threw a 40-yard touchdown to Trovon Reed in the fourth. Reed was sporting the No. 37 jersey in honor of former teammate Ladarious Phillips, who was among three people killed during a pool-party shooting over the summer.
The elusive Wallace only ran three times for 9 yards, but that threat opened up opportunities for Mason and the speedy McCalebb. He also managed to avoid getting sacked after Auburn had allowed 29 sacks on the season.
"I couldn't be more pleased with the way he managed the team, directed the team, made plays at critical times in the game when we needed them," Chizik said
The two tailbacks had only one 100-yard effort apiece entering the game.
Bates provided the biggest highlight play in a season full of lowlights. He scooped up the ball and rambled toward the end zone, stiff-arming Germi Morrison to the ground at the 20.
"It was going back to my high school days of running the ball at running back and trying to make a play," Bates said. "And I was able to."
The Aggies trailed just 7-0 at halftime before Auburn's running game got rolling.
"We needed to get some things going more on offense to give our team a chance to win," New Mexico State coach DeWayne Walker said. "Unfortunately, when they decided that they were just going to run the ball down our throat, they did.
"I'm just a little disappointed in the second half. We didn't emulate how we played the first half."
Andrew Manley completed 17 of 30 passes for 222 yards but was sacked four times and lost the fumble that Bates returned. Austin Franklin gained 154 yards on seven catches, including a 51-yarder.