FACTS & STATS: Site: Kibbie Dome (18,000) — Moscow, Idaho.
Television: Aggie Vision. Home Record: NMSU 1-2, Idaho 0-2. Away Record: NMSU
1-3, Idaho 0-4. Neutral Record: NMSU 0-0, Idaho 0-0. Conference Record: NMSU
1-2, Idaho 0-4. Series Record: Idaho leads, 14-6.
GAME NOTES: A couple of teams that continue to find that wins are hard to come
by get together this weekend, as the Idaho Vandals entertain the New Mexico
State Aggies in Sun Belt Conference action at the Kibbie Dome.
After winning just one of 12 contests all of last season, the Vandals now find
themselves winless through the first six games of 2014, following a 27-24
setback at Georgia Southern last Saturday. With the loss, Idaho’s overall
losing streak has reached 13 in a row, which is the longest current drought in
The last victory for the Vandals was a narrow 26-24 triumph over Temple at
home on Sept. 28, 2013. Playing as an Independent last season, you have to go
back to Oct. 6, 2012 to find the last league win for the Vandals, a 26-18
decision against New Mexico State while the teams were both still part of the
Western Athletic Conference.
Since winning the first two games of the season against the likes of Cal Poly
(28-10) and Georgia State (34-31), the Aggies have spiraled out of control and
are now staring at a five-game losing streak after bowing to Troy last
Saturday on the road, 41-24. The loss to the Trojans was rather unexpected,
given that Troy had been winless in five games on the season to that point.
Having first faced off in 1971, New Mexico State is the opponent that the
Vandals have played more than anyone else on their 2014 schedule. Idaho owns a
14-6 advantage in the relationship, although it was the Aggies who put up a
24-16 win in the 2013 season finale in Las Cruces.
The Aggies fell behind Troy by double digits in the first quarter of their
meeting and never recovered, as the hosts drummed up 571 yards of total
offense and controlled the ball for more than 35 minutes. Under center for
NMSU was Tyler Rogers who converted 22-of-33 passes for 272 yards and a couple
of touchdowns, but he was also intercepted twice and had to pick himself off
the ground following four sacks.
In addition to running for a team-best 85 yards and a score, Larry Rose III
also placed second on the team with five catches for 50 yards as the Aggies
absorbed the loss.
Defensively, Derek Ibekwe and Rodney Butler led the charge with 14 and 12
tackles, respectively, the latter logging 1.5 stops behind the line and a
NMSU has the second-best pass defense in the country right now, permitting a
mere 131.7 ypg, but much of that has to do with the fact that opponents to
this point have done so well running the ball versus the Aggies. In fact,
after seven games the program is dead last in the FBS with a staggering 334.1
ypg allowed on the ground.
Rogers is trying to give the Aggies reason to believe in their season,
converting 62.1 percent of his passes for 249.0 ypg and 11 TDs, but he has
also been intercepted 12 times. Teldrick Morgan gives NMSU its best chance to
score further down the field as he leads the way with 53 catches for 675 yards
and five TDs.
Idaho may have scored the first points of the game against Georgia Southern
last weekend, thanks to a 35-yard field goal by Austin Rehkow, but it wasn’t
long before the Vandals fell behind and stumbled to the lopsided outcome.
Running back Elijhaa Penny tried to give the Vandals a fighting chance with
his 21 carries for 75 yards and three touchdowns, but it was not nearly
Matt Linehan converted 19-of-31 passes for 230 yards, but he was picked off
once and had to deal with three sacks. Before all of those quarterback
takedowns, the visitors were credited with a mere 94 net rushing yards.
Defensively, Idaho tallied just two sacks and five tackles for loss, with
Quinton Bradley accounting for one of those quarterback takedowns and two
Bradley now has three sacks to lead the Vandals in that category, as the team
shows a mere eight sacks thus far while opponents have taken down an Idaho
signal caller a total of 30 times. Because of those 30 takedowns, Idaho is
averaging a paltry 87.8 ypg on the ground, which is 118th in the country.
Linehan has managed to give the team a boost with some aggressive passing
numbers (312.3 ypg and 61.2 percent accuracy), but he still has more picks
(11) than scores (nine). Receiver Joshua McCain has done all he can to stem
the tide by catching 43 balls for 665 yards and six TDs, but with little
support around him the Vandals appear doomed to fail.
Both of these teams have scoring defenses that have been victimized time and
time again this season. That’s either a prescription for a high-scoring affair
this weekend or, given how inconsistent the squads can be on offense, it might
mean nothing at all. Nevertheless, one would think that being at home would
give the Vandals an advantage, but that’s just not the case right now.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: New Mexico State 35, Idaho 24