The Utah State Aggies (5-3, 4-1) will head down to the southwest as they take on the New Mexico Lobos (4-4, 2-2) in a Mountain West Conference Mountain Division matchup Saturday afternoon. The teams have split the six previous meetings with Utah State taking the last two; that includes a 28-21 win on November 15, 2014 in the most recent matchup. New Mexico covered the line in that game as a 20 point underdog.
Utah State won for the fourth time in five games as they trounced Wyoming 58-27 at home last Friday night for their 13th straight home win. New Mexico is coming off a bye; they were beaten 31-21 on the road by San Jose State two weeks ago in their most recent contest. Kickoff from University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico is scheduled for 3:30 pm ET and will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. Utah State is currently a 14.5 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 56 points.
Utah State led 14-7 after one quarter and 30-14 at the half before pouring it on in the second half to cruise to the victory. The Aggies dominated the total yardage category 592-353 and racked up 34 first downs while allowing 22 in the game; Utah State committed the game’s only turnover and lost the time of possession battle 33:55 to 26:05 in the game. The Aggies scored nine points in the final 1:39 of the first half to turn a 21-14 lead into a 30-14 edge; a blocked punt returned for a score proved to be a turning point.
The Aggies are a middle of the pack offensive unit as they are currently 101st in the nation in passing offense with 187.9 yards per contest while they stand 52nd in the nation in rushing offense by picking up 182 yards per contest. Utah State is tied for 55th in scoring offense as the team averages 32 points per game and they are tied for 54th in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 24.6 points per contest. With Chuckie Keeton (55 of 101, 537 yards, 2 TD, 5 INT, 75 rushing yards) out again, it’s Kent Myers (69 of 106, 893 yards, 9 TD, 1 INT, 313 rushing yards, 3 TD) running the offense. The run game averages 4.7 yards per carry with Devante Mays leading the team with 83 carries for 586 yards and seven scores while LaJuan Hunt contributes 91 carries for 274 yards and four scores. Hunter Sharp leads the team with 28 catches for 364 yards and four touchdowns; Devonte Robinson contributes 18 grabs for 266 yards plus a score while Hunt has grabbed 17 balls out of the backfield. Two kickers for the Aggies have combined to hit 30 of 33 extra points and eight of eight field goals with a long of 51 yards.
New Mexico put together a game performance but was unable to contain Tyler Ervin by San Jose State, who ran for 261 yards and a score in the game. The Lobos were outgained 498-335 and gave up 25 first downs while picking up 15 in the game; they also turned the ball over twice while failing to force a turnover of their own. In addition, New Mexico lost the time of possession battle as they allowed San Jose State to control the ball for 36:59 compared to the 23:01 that the Lobos had possession.
The Lobos are 123rd in the nation in passing offense (133 yards) while they are an impressive 12th in rushing offense by racking up 248.4 yards per game. New Mexico scores 29.9 points per contest , putting them tied for 63rd in the nation in scoring offense while they are tied for 74th in scoring defense as they allow 28 points per contest. Lamar Jordan has hit 47 of 85 passes for 599 yards with three touchdowns and two picks while ranking second on the team with 455 yards and three scores on the ground. Austin Apodaca is the backup as he has hit 40 of 79 passes for 465 yards with one touchdown and three picks. Jhurell Pressley has 96 carries for 449 yards and 5 scores while Teriyon Gipson has contributed 502 yards and five scores on 78 carries this season. There’s pretty much only one target in the passing game worth talking about for New Mexico as Dameon Gamblin leads the team with 28 receptions for 371 yards and two scores; no one else has more than Reece White’s (174 yards) 11 catches on the season. Jason Sanders has hit all 22 extra points but is 3 of 7 on field goals with a long of 32 yards; Jack Rogers is 9 of 9 on extra points and hit one of his two field goal attempts so far, that coming from 42 yards out.
Utah State is 6-0 ATS in their last six against opponents coming off a bye, 4-1 ATS in their last five conference games, 4-1 ATS in their last five overall, 8-2 ATS in their last 10 on grass and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 after a straight up win. New Mexico is 3-8 ATS in their last 11 at home, 2-10 ATS in their last 12 after allowing at least 450 yards and 0-4 ATS in their last four overall.
The Lobos need to be able to establish the run in order to make things happen and to wear down Utah State as they can ill afford to find themselves in a major deficit with their run first offense. Apodaca may be a better passer than Jordan, who missed last week, but that won’t help them much. Myers has been good for Utah State as the team has responded with him running the offense. Look for the Aggies to get another win in this contest and handle New Mexico by double digits.