FACTS & STATS: Site: Centennial Bank Stadium (30,406) — Jonesboro, Arkansas.
Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: NMSU 1-5, ASU 4-1. Away Record: NMSU 1-4,
ASU 2-4. Neutral Record: NMSU 0-0, ASU 0-0. Conference Record: NMSU 1-6, ASU
4-3. Series Record: New Mexico State leads, 6-2.
GAME NOTES: Dealing with the third-longest losing streak in the nation, the
New Mexico State Aggies see the end of the tunnel as they take on the Arkansas
State Red Wolves in the regular-season finale for both programs.
New Mexico State, which trails only SMU (12 straight defeats) and Georgia
State (10) with nine consecutive setbacks, has not come out on top since
defeating the aforementioned Panthers in the first week of September by a
score of 34-31. A week earlier, the Aggies kicked off the season with a 28-10
romp over FCS foe Cal Poly.
More recently NMSU, which is ninth in the Sun Belt Conference standings with a
record of 1-6, suffered a 30-17 loss versus ULM following a bye week.
Meanwhile, the Red Wolves are trying to set themselves up for a potential bowl
appearance since they are already eligible with six victories in 11
opportunities. The problem is, after having won five of six games, the team
has dropped two in a row and is now in jeopardy of finishing at .500 in a
conference that is often overlooked.
Last week, the team was at Texas State and treated to a 45-27 setback by the
NMSU leads the all-time series by a count of 6-2 according to ASU sources,
although this is the first meeting since 2003.
Against ULM the last time out, the Aggies tried to get something going on the
ground behind Larry Rose III who generated a game-high 229 yards and scored
twice on 35 carries, but it simply was not enough as the passing attack lagged
behind. Quarterback Tyler Rogers converted 15-of-32 passes for 102 yards, was
sacked three times and tossed an interception in the setback
The run defense for the Aggies certainly held up their end of the bargain by
limiting the visitors to only 70 net yards, but still it was the secondary
that proved to be the weak link as ULM threw for 350 yards. Winston Rose
finished with eight tackles and an interception, while Rodney Butler tacked on
a pair of tackles for loss in the setback.
Butler, who is one of the nation’s top defenders with a staggering 118
tackles, has 7.5 TFL and a pair of forced fumbles to add to his stat line.
What the Aggies sorely lack is an attacker who can go up the field and get
after the quarterback, seeing as how the program has a mere five sacks in 11
The run defense is also one of the worst in football (124th in the FBS) with
295.5 ypg allowed.
On the offensive side of the ball, Rogers has tried desperately to make the
Aggies a threat over the top, but the only thing that he has accomplished is
throwing more INTs (21) than TDs (15), even while completing 61.1 percent of
Against Texas State last week, the Red Wolves were held scoreless in the first
quarter and then had to scramble to try and catch up, which never happened at
Bobcat Stadium in San Marcos. Quarterback Fredi Knighten converted 31-of-57
passes for 366 yards and two touchdowns, one each to Booker Mays and Blake
Mack, but it didn’t make much of a difference. Knighten was also second on the
unit with 40 net rushing yards, while Johnston White scored once on the ground
for the visitors.
Defensively, the Red Wolves had no answer for how to slow down Robert Lowe who
ran for 236 yards and four touchdowns as Texas State averaged 6.5 yards per
carry. Qushaun Lee came up with 11 tackles, while Chris Stone posted the lone
sack for ASU. Lee is on top of the tackles list for the season with 85 stops
and is also first when it comes to interceptions with four, not to mention
registering a pair of forced fumbles.
Knighten may not be the flashiest quarterback in the conference, but he has
been rather solid for the Red Wolves, from converting 60.8 percent of his
attempts for 234.4 ypg, to tossing 17 touchdowns and having just five of his
380 attempts picked off.
One aspect of the game that ASU needs to get a better grip on is penalties.
Mistakes are costing the team close to 70 yards per game and that has hurt the
Red Wolves on both sides of the ball.
As long as Knighten can find his groove and remain poised in the pocket, this
is a game that the Red Wolves should be putting in the win column in order to
better their chances of continuing the season beyond this month.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arkansas State 31, New Mexico State 17