Bookies may have thought things looked pretty simple when setting the line for New Mexico’s state rivalry game this weekend. The New Mexico Lobos play in the Mountain West, considered a much stronger conference than the Sun Belt, in which the NMSU Aggies reside. Head-to-head records indicate that the Lobos have held a distinct advantage in the series over the past 10 games.
So, odds-makers set the opening point spread at New Mexico (-12). And bettors had a field day.
The Aggies lost in Week 1, but in impressive fashion for a small-conference team, falling to Arizona State 37-31. Meanwhile, Bob Davie’s Varsity Lobos beat up on Abilene Christian, 38-14…but that may not tell us much.
Who: New Mexico State Aggies at New Mexico Lobos
When: Saturday, September 9th, 8 PM EST
Where: Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, NM
Lines: New Mexico State (+7) at New Mexico (-7) / O/U Total: (71)
If you didn’t know the 2 teams or their conferences at all, the Aggies’ performance against a PAC-12 power last weekend might install the underdog as a favorite instead. Talented senior QB Tyler Rogers passed for almost 400 yards, while the offense gained 150 rushing yards on just 30 carries. An unusually firm defense held ASU to an incredibly low 79 yards rushing.
But defending the New Mexico spread/triple option is a different chore. Aggie fans should worry about their side choosing to attempt almost twice as many passes (57 vs ASU) as runs again – that won’t do against a ball-control opponent like the Lobos. The Sun Belt squad cannot afford to let their ‘D tucker out in the 2nd half.
The Lobos have been plagued with sub-par defense themselves over the past few years, or else the team’s powerful rushing attack would have carried them to even greater heights right now. New Mexico did look stout while stopping Abilene, but the Wildcats did manage a 99-yard drive to begin the contest.
Defense cannot be counted on in Albuquerque until the program’s continued up-swing leads to an influx of bigger and faster athletes. For now, success will ride or die on the legs and arm of QB Lamar Jordan, who passed for a career-high 213 yards in the debut.
There is too much uncertainty in the outcome for an ATS bet to make much sense here. But there is a solid cash play…on the O/U.
71 points is too generous. Though the Lobos are known for high-scoring contests, the defense – however pedestrian on an overall scale – will not be overtaxed by a Sun Belt program unless the offense doesn’t control the ball. Look for Davie to slow things down and try to keep the egg out of Rogers’ hands, putting value in the under.
Another way to look at it – the point totals of both schools in Week 1 don’t add up to 71. The Aggies aren’t likely to score more than 31 points on the Lobos based on recent history – and the Lobos aren’t likely to score more points against NMSU than against Abilene.