New Mexico State Aggies vs Fresno State Bulldogs Game Preview

It’s easy for people to love you when you’re winning.
It’s easy for people to forget that you got to a bowl game in part because your senior-heavy offense overperformed in one-possession games.
But here we are again. Six losses in a row, and seven road losses in a row.
Last week was so close. The Aggies almost completely eliminated turnovers, but the only turnover they did have was returned for a touchdown, and they lost by three.
The offense turned up their efficiency and produced seven touchdowns. But they also had a drive stall out at the 16-yard line for a field goal and another drive that started at the UNM 27, gained no yards and ended in a blocked field goal.
The Aggies had one turnover, that one turnover was returned for a score, they had one red-zone drive that stalled out into a field goal, and they had one drive that nearly started in the red zone and ended in a blocked field goal.
Against a fairly matched opponent like New Mexico, if any one of those things goes the other way, we’re probably talking about 1-3 NMSU.
Such a close miss says good things about hopes for the rest of the season… except for this week. This week Fresno State comes to Las Cruces.
This season was always going to be a rough start. The Aggies have five teams on their schedule who opened the season in the S&P+ top 50, and while their two Mountain West opponents have since slipped down around 70th, this is truly a front-loaded schedule.
Fresno State is breaking in a new quarterback, and while he’s often a bit of a heart attack waiting to happen, that hasn’t stopped the Bulldogs from putting together 92 points in their first three games.
The Bulldogs haven’t necessarily been consistent, but they’ve been successful.
They beat Sacramento State 34-20, but it was 20-20 with eight minutes left. They fell to USC 31-23, but 10 of those points came in the last 10 minutes.
Despite his warts, Jorge Reyna is the kind of gunslinging quarterback who could give the Aggie defense a fit. He’s got a knack for extending plays, and he has the kind of big arm to finish them off if the defense gets slack assuming the pressure hits home.
NMSU so far has faced an Alabama team that was elite on both sides of the ball, and a Washington State team with an elite offense and a mediocre but opportunistic defense that capitalized on turnovers.
They faced a San Diego State team with a great defense and no offense, but enough offense to capitalize on opportunities created by the defense. and a New Mexico team with a bad defense that they were able to make look bad, and a mediocre offense that the Aggies made look top-notch.
Fresno State currently ranks as mediocre in both categories, as they generate some big plays on offense, and turnovers on defense, but haven’t been wire-to-wire adept at anything just yet.
If we go based off statistics, this is technically a team with New Mexico’s offense and a better (but still below average) defense, which would suggest something like a 41-28 score.
Once again, I expect the Aggies to cover the spread but come up short. Things are coming together and NM State is improving, but they’re yet again mismatched in a way that could feed right into the very things they’ve struggled with so far.
Coach Martin said that he considers Fresno to be more talented than even Washington State, and that they could easily be 3-0. This is true, but I think it speaks just as much to their talent as it does to their difficulty putting it all together at this point.
I think the Aggies got some confidence last week and will benefit from sustaining that momentum against a decent but not amazing defense, but I expect this to be another learning experience.
Prediction: Fresno State 48, New Mexico State 35

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