New Mexico (7-3, 5-1 MWC) at Colorado State (5-5, 3-3 MWC)
- Start Time: 10:15 PM EST
- Location: Hughes Stadium, Fort Collins, CO
- TV: ESPN2
- Streaming: WatchESPN
- Weather: Partly cloudy, highs in the mid 40’s
- Line: CSU -5.5, O/U 62.5
It tells you essentially everything you need to know about the New Mexico Lobos offense that their receiving corps has only caught 83 passes in 10 games, yet the Lobos still rank 20th in the country in rushing offense S&P+ – opponents know exactly what Bob Davie intends to do, yet he is still able to do exactly what he wants, especially when it comes to conference play.
A month ago, UNM was 2-3 and still reeling from losses to both New Mexico State and Rutgers. This team has come an extremely long way in rattling of five wins in a row – it’s not everyday you get to talk about a team that will finish this season with a 2-2 record against the 10 worst teams in the country (per S&P+) yet still has a realistic shot at 10+ wins.
They are all about the big, explosive plays – 17 of their 44 offensive touchdowns on the season have come on plays of 20+ yards, and they’ve got at least a dozen more such plays scattered across the rest of the season. That said, there’s a chance their luck is beginning to fade.
They needed a field goal with a minute left to beat Utah State by three. A late defensive touchdown to win by seven over Hawaii. Since their one-point loss to New Mexico State, the Lobos are 4-0 in one-possession games, and that kind of success won’t last forever.
This is a difficult team to figure out. Did you know the Rams are one of eight teams that are ranked in the top 50 in S&P+ that have yet to achieve bowl-eligible status?
On one hand, they appear a very pedestrian 5-5. They pass to set up the run, and more often than not find themselves not just setting up the run but eliminating the need for it entirely with a deep pass. And then you look again, and their 3-3 conference record includes losses to Boise and Air Force by a total of eight points. In fact, if the Rams had one more touchdown in every game they played, they would be 8-2 and in first place in the division.
Their downfall: they struggled against Jeremy McNichols and the Air Force triple option which means…? You guessed it! 120th in run defense S&P+. Their pass defense struggles a bit to prevent big plays, in large part because they are incapable of generating a pass rush without blitzing (and even then… meh). That’s a good thing, because they do literally nothing well defending the run.
That in and of itself doesn’t leave a team hovering around .500 of course, but turnovers are a geat way to push you over the edge one way or the other. It just so happens that the Rams’ turnover margin is +5 in their five wins and -5 in their five losses.
So we have a team that has underperformed in large part because they have struggled to stop the run, but also because they can’t avoid turnovers quite well enough. Then we have an opponent who runs the ball extremely well, but stinks at stopping big plays on defense and subsequently struggles to hold a lead. I fully expect New Mexico to jump ahead early with a couple of big plays, but struggle to put Colorado State away. Lobos in a close one that wouldn’t be as close if their defense knew how to hold a lead.
New Mexico 41, Colorado State 34