FACTS & STATS: Site: Aggie Memorial Stadium (30,343) — Las Cruces, New
Mexico. Television: AggieVision, ESPN3.com. Home Record: UNM 0-2, NMSU 1-0.
Away Record: UNM 0-0, NMSU 1-1. Neutral Record: UNM 0-0, NMSU 0-0. Conference
Record: UNM 0-0, NMSU 1-0. Series Record: New Mexico leads, 68-31-5.
GAME NOTES: The annual battle for supremacy in the Land of Enchantment is set
to take place in Las Cruces on Saturday, as the New Mexico State Aggies host
the New Mexico Lobos in non-conference action.
The Lobos, who caught a break in the schedule last week, are hitting the road
for the first time in 2014, although they are still staying within the state
borders. After putting up a record of only 3-9 last year, New Mexico was
expecting bigger and better things this time around, but already the team has
bowed twice in as many tests.
The squad started off with a 31-24 setback to UTEP on Aug. 30, and followed
that up with a 58-23 blowout versus Arizona State, which means the losing
streak for the Lobos has now reached five straight dating back to last season.
Meanwhile, the Aggies not only got off to a rare 2-0 start, they did so with a
Sun Belt Conference victory over Georgia State, 34-31, on Sept. 6. However,
like the Lobos, NMSU also suffered a loss versus Texas-El Paso, coming out on
the short end of a 42-24 decision in Texas last Saturday night during the
latest installment of the I-10 Rivalry.
In the battle for state bragging rights, the Lobos own a 68-31-5 advantage in
the all-time series with NMSU, thanks in part to a 66-17 blowout in the
meeting last season.
Ranked 17th in the nation at the time, Arizona State invaded Albuquerque with
a purpose earlier this month, scoring 22 straight points to open the meeting
with the Lobos, en route to the crushing decision during which UNM scored a
mere two points in the second half. Quarterback Lamar Jordan hit 7-of-11
passes for 130 yards and a score, while running backs Crusoe Gongbay and
Jhurell Pressley both crossed the goal line in the lopsided affair as well.
Dakota Cox led the defense with 10 tackles, but the Lobos managed to register
just a single sack and only two tackles for loss as ASU attacked the hosts on
the ground. The Sun Devils produced a massive 423 yards and six TDs on 48
rushing attempts, finishing with 621 yards of total offense as they averaged
nine yards per snap.
Last season, the run defense for the Lobos was rather dismal as the team gave
up 257.2 ypg, ranking it 120th in the country, and it appears as though UNM is
again destined to have issues when trying to slow down aggressive offenses.
Through the first two games, New Mexico has given up 376.5 ypg on the ground,
easily the most among the 125 FBS teams. In fact, no other team is giving up
even 300 ypg rushing, so that should tell you all you need to know about how
much emphasis the Lobos need to put on stopping the run.
In addition to having a run defense that needs a complete overhaul, the Lobos
are also dealing with a litany of injuries, one of those being to quarterback
Cole Gautsche who is listed as questionable this week with a hamstring issue.
If Gautsche is again unable to go, Jordan will probably get the nod. But no
matter who is under center for the Lobos, assume that the running game will
get the most calls since the group is averaging 308.5 ypg (11th in the
New Mexico State scored the first points of the game against UTEP and led 10-3
in the second quarter, but that was before the Miners logged three consecutive
touchdowns and pulled away for the 18-point home win last Saturday night.
Tyler Rogers converted 22-of-40 passes for NMSU, resulting in 324 yards and
two touchdowns, adding another score on the ground, but it wasn’t nearly
enough to keep pace with UTEP.
Teldrick Morgan was a favorite target down the field as he caught eight balls
for a game-high 202 yards and a score.
Defensively, Rodney Butler and Kawe Johnson both registered 17 tackles for the
visitors, combining for 1.5 of the team’s 2.0 sacks in the meeting as well.
Unfortunately for the duo, their numbers were so high because the NMSU defense
was on the field for so long, approaching 40 minutes.
Having already matched their entire win total from all of last year, the
Aggies now just need to put more focus on getting the offense off on the right
foot. While the team has outscored the competition by three points in as many
games, of the 86 points tallied by NMSU, 38 have come in the fourth quarter.
Rogers has completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 241.0 ypg and seven
touchdowns against four interceptions, with Morgan being his favorite target
with 22 grabs for 342 yards and four TDs. On the ground, Larry Rose III has
accounted for 238 yards, but he has missed one game already and is listed as
probable with an ankle injury for this weekend as well.
This is the type of rivalry game that tends to take on a life of its own, no
matter how well or how poorly the teams involved have been playing up to that
point. As long as Gautsche is able to return to the field for the Lobos, the
visitors will have a fighting chance in this meeting.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico 27, New Mexico State 21