2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 5 - NMSU at New Mexico
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Oct. 1 New Mexico State 42 ... at New Mexico 28
CFN Analysis: The Aggies got up early, and the Lobos never had a chance. The offense might be without top quarterback Andrew Manley, but Matt Christian was fantastic with three first quarter touchdown passes and sharp plays from deep. Great on third downs, NMSU converted 11-of-14 chances while getting nearly perfect balance with 242 yards on the ground and 296 through the air. Not only did Christian throw well, but he ran for 101 yards to go along with a strong game from Kenny Turner. When Turner is on, the offense is working. With Idaho up next in two weeks, the Aggies have rare momentum.
The Lobos are a mess, and it can be understandable that the offense wasn’t prepared to do anything big out of the gate, while the defense didn’t have any answers in the first quarter. The secondary is a disaster and didn’t come up with any meaningful stops early, and then the defensive front couldn’t stop the Aggie running game. Basically, the D couldn’t get off the field. With two weeks off before Nevada, there’s time to take a deep breath after all the coaching drama, and George Barlow has to figure out how to get some sort of production out of a defense that’s playing worse than any in America.
(AP) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Even a change in head coaches didn't do much for New Mexico on Saturday as rival New Mexico State got three first-quarter touchdown passes from quarterback Matt Christian in a 42-28 victory.
It was the first time in more than 40 years that New Mexico State has won three straight in the series. The margin of victory for the Aggies was their largest since 1968.
On Sept. 25, New Mexico fired third-year head coach Mike Locksley and replaced him with defensive coordinator George Barlow.
Christian finished 16 for 27 for 296 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 101 yards and another TD for NMSU (2-3).
Kenny Turner added 109 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown for the Aggies.
Crusoe Gongbay had two touchdown runs for New Mexico (0-5) and Ty Kirk had 11 catches for 90 yards, giving him consecutive games with double-digit receptions.
"We have a thing on our board that says, `Fast start,' " Christian said. "It's one of the keys to being a good offense. It's been a focus for us all year so now we had to come out and do that this week. That's about as fast a start as you can get, really, so we were real happy with that. Nothing wrong with 21-0 in the first quarter."
New Mexico quarterback B.R. Holbrook said the team tried to ignore the coaching issues to focus on the game.
"Some of the higher-ups made some decisions and as players it affects us greatly, but at the end of the day, we cannot control their decisions," he said.
New Mexico State (1-3) at New Mexico (0-4) Oct. 1, 8:00
Here’s The Deal … Both programs have been among the worst in America over the last few years, and after an incident involving a possible recruit getting nailed for a DWI while driving New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley’s car, enough was enough. Locksley, whose tenure over the last two-and-a-half years has been a special type of bad, was fired, and defensive coordinator George Barlow took over and will be the head man for the rest of the season.
He can’t be any worse than Locklsey.
And the game can’t be any worse than last year’s effort.
New Mexico State threw for 38 yards, New Mexico managed 274 yards of total offense, there were 16 penalties, seven turnovers, and poor play after poor play in a 16-14 NMSU win. This year, the Lobos are a wee bit better, but not much, coming close to pulling off a win over Colorado State, but a loss in overtime to Sam Houston State was a disaster. With road trips to Nevada, TCU, and San Diego State in three of the next four games, this is the only real chance for a win before hosting UNLV in mid-November.
The Aggies came up with a stunning win over Minnesota and battles with UTEP, but a ten point loss to San Jose State showed it’s business as usual in Las Cruces. The Idaho game in two weeks is winnable, but a third straight win over New Mexico would be a nice move forward to a season that started with promise and potential.
Why New Mexico State Might Win: Will the Lobos be able to handle the coaching turmoil without a problem? The defense is the second-worst in America, the offense is averaging fewer than 18 points per game, and the pass protection has been awful. The passing game hasn’t been too bad, but the stats are only decent because of a 434-yard day against Sam Houston State. There are too many mistakes, too many penalties, and too many turnovers for a team that has yet to show it has what it takes to come up with a win.
As if things weren’t going bad enough for the Lobos, the punt return game is among the worst in the nation and the punting game is averaging just 32.7 yards per try. In other words, nothing was working quite right under Locksley, and while New Mexico State might be a mess, New Mexico is a hot mess.
Why New Mexico Might Win: Sometimes a new coach takes over for an awful coach and everything changes. Colorado perked up late last year once Dan Hawkins was canned, and North Texas went on a run once Todd Dodge was let go. Locksley did an awful job and there’s a shot that the Lobos change things around and start to improve now that he’s gone.
The passing game is putting up yards, even if he’s not an efficient air attack. The Lobo quarterbacks bombed away against Sam Houston State, and Tarean Austin is running relatively well, and Deon Long is putting up nice numbers as a return man and a receiver. There are some decent pieces to work with and some decent athletes, but it’s a program used to losing lately. Now things are shaken up.
New Mexico State still has to show it can produce without Andrew Manley, the starting quarterback who was lost for the year in the loss to UTEP. Matt Christian threw well last week against San Jose State, throwing for 238 yards and a score, but the offense sputtered in a ten-point loss to a team that hadn’t won a game over an FBS team in over a year.
What To Watch Out For: New Mexico isn’t getting anything out of its running backs. Kasey Carrier hasn’t played yet thanks to a nagging ankle injury, and James Wright has only run for 114 yards on 32 carries with just 25 yards on ten carries over the last two weeks. The lack of a push from the offensive front means the running backs aren’t getting any room to move, and that means the quarterbacks have to rotate a bit to get Austin and his mobility on the field.
New Mexico State needed a few games before it finally got a little production from the running backs with Kenny Turner getting fed the ball 17 times against San Jose State after getting just nine carries in the first three games, and he produced with 129 yards and a touchdown while catching three passes for 19 yards and a score. If he can get a little room to move, he has the ability to give the Aggie offense a balance. He just needs the ball.
What Will Happen: The coaching change will make all the difference. It’s not like the Lobos are going to be LSU all of a sudden, but the defense will be stronger with Barlow making the calls on both sides of the ball, and the offense will bomb away a bit with Christian proving to be fine in place of Manley. It won’t be a pretty game, but it’ll be a close fight.
CFN Prediction: New Mexico 23 … New Mexico State 17
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New Mexico State -2.5 O/U: 52.5
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