FACTS & STATS: Site: Aggie Memorial Stadium (30,343) — Las Cruces, New
Mexico. Television: AggieVision, Altitude, ESPN3.com. Home Record: ULM 3-2,
NMSU 1-4. Away Record: ULM 0-5, NMSU 1-4. Neutral Record: ULM 0-0, NMSU 0-0.
Conference Record: ULM 2-4, NMSU 1-5. Series Record: New Mexico State leads,
GAME NOTES: A couple of Sun Belt Conference programs playing out the schedule
get together on Saturday afternoon, as the New Mexico State Aggies host the
The Aggies are a team that showed some false promise early on in the campaign
when they opened 2-0 with victories over Cal Poly and Georgia State, but since
then the team has had little to cheer about during an eight-game slide. The
Aggies enjoyed a break in the schedule last week after being pummeled by
Louisiana on Nov. 8 by a score of 44-16 at home.
New Mexico State has been equally inept both on the road (1-4) and at home
(1-4), and is just 1-5 in conference play thanks to that 34-31 victory over a
Georgia State program that is just 1-9 on the campaign.
While NMSU is sitting in ninth place in the SBC standings, the Warhawks are
only one step ahead with a mark of 2-4. Like the Aggies, ULM also won the
first two games of the season (Wake Forest and Idaho) and then topped Troy a
few weeks later, but since that 3-1 start the program has taken a turn for the
worse with six straight defeats. Last weekend, the latest setback came against
Louisiana in a 34-27 final.
In terms of an all-time series between these two teams, the Aggies have taken
all three previous meetings, the most recent of those being a 21-14 decision
in Monroe back in 2003.
Against the Ragin’ Cajuns, ULM fell behind early and was never able to
recover. Still, quarterback Pete Thomas had one of the best passing games of
his college career as he completed 38-of-54 attempts for a career-high 472
yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he was also sacked seven times, which led
to the team being labeled with minus-39 rushing yards.
Receiver Rashon Ceasar accounted for 11 receptions for 120 yards and a score
to no avail. Gerrand Johnson was responsible for a game-high 11 tackles, all
but one of which was assisted, and was credited with two sacks and 2.5 tackles
for loss overall.
Gerrand Johnson currently ranks second on the team in tackles with 71, while
his 5.5 sacks are tied with Michael Johnson (59 tackles) for the team high.
The latter Johnson is also first on the unit with 11 TFL and the team as a
whole is now averaging slightly better than seven TFL per contest.
In terms of the poor rushing effort by the Warhawks last weekend, it might not
be all that surprising really, given that the team ranks 123rd in the nation
with only 74.5 ppg. Obviously the negative number brought the team down, but
already there were issues with ULM making progress when the ball was not in
the hands of Thomas.
Speaking of Thomas, a quarterback who has already plied his trade at Colorado
State and North Carolina State since leaving high school, he has completed
58.6 percent of his attempts for 11 TDs and five INTs for a program that is
barely getting by with only 19.5 ppg.
Meanwhile the Aggies, who are set to close out their season at Arkansas State
next weekend, they are a team that has been having major issues on the
defensive side of the ball when it comes to stopping opposing runners. Those
ball carriers are generating a massive 318.0 ypg on the ground, which makes
the NMSU run defense the worst in the FBS. The pass defense is a far different
story however, as the unit permits a minuscule 144.9 ypg (second in the FBS),
but that probably has more to do with foes finding so much success on the
ground than anything else.
On the offensive side of the ball, Larry Rose III is the top runner with 736
yards and six TDs, but he is listed as questionable for this weekend due to a
concussion. If Rose is unable to go, the next best option is Xavier Hall with
his 342 yards and five TDs on 105 attempts.
Unfortunately, the passing attack doesn’t appear to be much of a viable option
for the Aggies because while Tyler Rogers may be completing passes at a 62.3
percent clip for an average of 236.3 ypg, his 15 TDs are still dwarfed by his
20 interceptions. Needless to say, NMSU’s turnover margin is tied for 120th in
the country at minus-1.30 per contest.
While Thomas will have a hard time duplicating his efforts from last weekend,
it is still safe to say that his history in the pocket is much better than
that of Rogers, and should be enough to put the Warhawks in the win column one
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: ULM 31, New Mexico State 21