The New Mexico Lobos could have collapsed this year, or at least fired their coach in mid-season. Instead, Bob Davie’s team has righted the ship to some degree.
It’s just a question of whether they can sail against Fresno State.
The Bulldogs are at 5-1 and have seen their stock rise more than almost any other mid-major team since the start of the season. Not incidentally, Fresno State is 5-1 against the spread.
Who: Fresno State Bulldogs at New Mexico Lobos
When: Saturday, October 19th, 7:30 PM EST
Where: Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
Lines: Fresno (-13.5) at UNM (+13.5) / O/U Total: (55)
New Mexico returns home from Fort Collins with a disappointing loss to CSU on the ledger, and now must prepare for a team which has made quick work of most of the teams on its schedule.
The Lobos have to be sorely disappointed in the outcome from last week. They were more efficient than Colorado State running and throwing the ball, but suffered a costly fumble and were a miserable 3-for-11 on 3rd down conversion opportunities. Davie has to feel as if they let a very winnable game slip through the cracks. It’s discouraging that UNM was fresh off of a commanding victory against UNLV, which could have kick-started some positive momentum going into the second half of the year.
But the New Mexico defense is getting better, and there’s progress at QB in the form of junior Sheriron Jones. Sheriron stepped into the starting role 3 games ago when Tevaka Tuioti went down with an injury. Since then, he has completed 59 percent of his passes for a QBR of 162. The UNM shotgun-option offense is putting up big numbers again.
Jones, however, will face by far his most difficult test of the season against Fresno State, a Top-15 pass defense. But if Fresno State wants to capitalize on any short fields, they might need to do it through the air – UNM is limiting foes to an adjusted 3.52 yards per carry, good for 29th nationally.
More on what the hosts can expect from the 2-touchdown favorites:
There have been some incredible defenses that have played on the Dreamstyle Stadium turf, but this Saturday, one of the best ever might be coming to play the Lobos, and UNM’s record-setting offense will have to figure out in a true battle of the irresistible force and the immovable object. It will all go down on Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m. at Dreamstyle Stadium was the Lobos host the first place Fresno State Bulldogs. The game should be played in perfect weather, with temperatures slated for 65 degrees at kickoff.
“They are second in the nation in scoring defense, they are tenth in the nation in total defense, they are second in the nation in turnover margin and they have really talented receivers on offense,” said Bob Davie at his Tuesday media gathering. “And, they hit the jackpot on their quarterback” in referring to Marcus McMaryion, who joined the Bulldogs after transferring from Oregon State after the 2017 season had begun. n the end he summed it up pretty succinctly. “They’re good.” The Bulldogs have won four in a row, and have lost just once all season, a 21-14 loss at Minnesota, a game Fresno State led late in the fourth. The Bulldogs went to UCLA and manhandled the Bruins 38-14.
If there’s 1 issue holding the Bulldogs back, it’s the running game. The squad’s primary running back, sophomore Jordan Mims, is averaging a mere 3.44 yards per carry. But the WR corps is lethal. Primary target KeeSean Johnson has the size and agility to give himself a shot at landing on an NFL roster this time next year. Senior Bulldog QB Marcus McMaryion also loves to target TE Jared Rice, fresh-off an honorable mention for the John Mackey honors.
Meanwhile the Fresno State defense has outperformed their offensive unit and rank near the Top-10 nationally in a handful of metrics. They are 2nd in the nation in scoring defense, 10th in total defense, and 2nd in turnover margin. 1st-year defensive coordinator Bert Watts has his unit in great form and will need a good performance this weekend on the road against a talented New Mexico offense.
There are a bunch of point spreads in Week 8 in which the favorites seem over-valued. That’s strange, considering we just saw a week filled with upsets. This point spread would be even more valuable at (-14), but I’m still liking the Lobos to cover at home.
Davie’s innovative playbook will open enough holes in a proud defense to control the ball on a few long drives and keep the game close in Albuquerque. New Mexico’s issues have been mostly due to discord in the ranks and controversy surrounding the coach. Everyone agrees that when the roster is on the same page, the offense is effective, especially with a hot new signal-caller who can run and pass.
Take the Lobos to cover on Saturday night.