FACTS & STATS: Site: Aggie Memorial Stadium (30,343) — Las Cruces, New
Mexico. Television: AggieVision. Home Record: Louisiana 4-1, NMSU 1-3. Away
Record: Louisiana 1-2, NMSU 1-4. Neutral Record: Louisiana 0-0, NMSU 0-0.
Conference Record: Louisiana 4-0, NMSU 1-3. Series Record: Louisiana leads,
GAME NOTES: The first-place Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns will kick off a two-game
road swing on Saturday night when they take on the New Mexico State Aggies in
a Sun Belt Conference clash at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
Since losing three straight to close out its non-conference slate of games,
Louisiana has righted the ship with four consecutive wins to start Sun Belt
play, putting it in a virtual tie with Georgia Southern (6-0) for first place
in the league. The Cajuns most recently downed South Alabama at home last
NMSU is trending in the opposite direction as Louisiana, as it has lost seven
in a row since beginning the year 2-0. The Aggies began a three-game homestand
last weekend with a 37-29 loss to Texas State to fall to 1-3 in conference
Louisiana defeated NMSU at home last November, 49-35, to improve its standing
in the all-time series to 5-3.
The Cajuns’ offensive attack has been surprisingly average this season, as
they rank in the middle of the pack in the Sun Belt in yardage (426.5 ypg) and
points (28.9 ppg).
The focal point of the offense comes in the backfield with one of the most
effective two-back systems in the country. Elijah McGuire is prone to
explosive plays with 776 yards and nine touchdowns on just 88 carries (8.8
ypc), and he’s also the team’s leading receiver (32 receptions, 333 yards,
TD). Alonzo Harris, meanwhile, is a bruiser with 458 yards at less than four
yards per carry, but he too has a nose for the end zone with nine scores.
Quarterback Terrance Broadway has his hand in the potent rushing attack as
well with 436 yards and a touchdown. His passing numbers, on the other hand,
have been a disappointment, as he’s completing less than 60 percent of his
throws for 179.4 ypg with more interceptions (eight) than touchdowns (seven).
With Jamal Robinson (15 receptions, 260 yards, four TDs) out for the season
with a foot injury, Al Riles (20 receptions, 235 yards) and James Butler (15
receptions, 210 yards) are the top options out wide.
Louisiana’s defense hasn’t been anything special, yielding 29.3 ppg and 436.4
ypg, but last week the unit impressed against South Alabama in allowing just
336 yards and nine points.
The defense has only forced five turnovers, with leading tackler Corey Trim
(43 tackles) doing most of the damage with two interceptions. Christian Ringo
is one of the league’s premiere pass-rushers with 14.0 TFL and 8.0 sacks.
NMSU has moved the ball with consistent success this year in amassing 430.4
ypg, but its awful turnover problem (an FBS-worst 26) has resulted in just
Tyler Rogers’ reckless style of play has yielded some positive results (239.9
ypg, .630 completions, 14 TDs), but what stands out most is his nation-leading
17 interceptions. He’s thrown multiple picks in each of the team’s seven
Rogers and Teldrick Morgan have an outstanding report in the passing game.
Morgan leads the Sun Belt in receptions (63), is second in yards (745) and
third touchdowns (six). Joseph Matthews (31 receptions, 344 yards, four TDs)
and Jerrel Brown (30 receptions, 399 yards, two TDs) are also reliable
Larry Rose III has been great out of the backfield during his freshman
campaign. He’s rushed for 711 yards (on 5.6 ypc) and six touchdowns while
proving his worth as a pass-catcher as well (16 receptions, 139 yards, TD).
The turnovers on offense has put the defense in vulnerable positions all
season long, and as a result the unit is one of the Sun Belt’s worst (36.3
ppg, 469.7 ypg).
Rodney Butler is a tackling machine with 103 stops, while also adding two
forced fumbles and an interception. Winston Rose does his best to even the
turnover margin as well with four interceptions and a fumble recovery. The
team generates almost no pass-rush with just three sacks.
Louisiana hasn’t played nearly as well on the road (1-2) as it has at home
(4-1), but NMSU doesn’t pose much of a threat on either side of the ball for a
team eyeing a league championship.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisiana 41, New Mexico State 28