The Broncos and Aggies square off on Saturday for what could very well be the last time ever and what could very well be a huge blowout.
Continue reading for a preview of the game with details on where to watch, what to watch for, and how the Aggies might pull off an upset. Ha, just kidding. But really, I did come up with a couple of ways.
No. 3 Boise State vs. New Mexico State
- When to watch: Saturday, October 2, 6:00 MT kickoff
- Where to watch: Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, N.M. (Capacity: 30,343)
- How to watch: Live on KTVB and ESPN3, coverage by WAC television network with Guy Haberman and Dick Tomey
- What to wager: Boise State by 43 points
- What to wear: Forecast calls for clear skies, 85 degrees
Three matchups to watch
CB Davon House vs. Austin Pettis or Titus Young
House was a first-team All-WAC player last fall and one of the Top Five corners that Boise State faced all year. Presumably, he's better this fall and will be matched up against either Pettis or Young all night long. Which one will House choose? If it were me, I'd pick Tyler Shoemaker. Those other two guys are really good.
KR Taveon Rogers vs. Boise State return team
Oh, did you hear? Boise State is bad on special teams all of a sudden and Taveon Rogers is really good.
Taveon Rogers broke the Aggies’ single-game record Saturday with 219 yards on six kickoff returns in a 42-16 loss at Kansas. Rogers had three returns of 40 yards or more. The Broncos, of course, watched OSU’s James Rodgers take a punt back 54 yards for a touchdown and allowed a 40-yard Beavers kickoff return.
WR Marcus Allen vs. CB Brandyn Thompson
Allen is the New Mexico State offense, averaging more than 100 yards per game as both a receiver and a runner. You know what that makes him? TCU's Jeremy Kerley. If you remember, Kerley was the one who drew a constant Kyle Wilson shadow in the Fiesta Bowl. If Boise State chooses the same strategy against NMSU and Allen, shadow responsibility would likely fall to Thompson.
While I'm on the subject of Marcus Allen, here's something he said following the team's 42-16 loss to Kansas.
"Our offense is pretty high-powered," Allen said.
For Boise State:
- D.J. Harper out with knee injury
- Mitch Burroughs out with ankle injury
For New Mexico State
- S George Callender questionable with head injury
- QB Matt Christian probable with head injury
What New Mexico State can do to win
It will take a large miracle made up of several small miracles for New Mexico State to pull off the upset on Saturday night. One of those small miracles would be forcing Boise State into 3rd and long. The Broncos picked up 1st downs more than 60 percent of the time against Oregon State, helped by the fact that BSU had, on average, less than five yards to go. New Mexico State's defense will need as much help as it can get, and forcing the Broncos into obvious passing downs is a good place to start. If Boise State averages 3rd and 8 or worse, the Aggies will be happy. Now to figure out how to keep them from getting more than two yards on 1st and 2nd downs ...
Here's a fun stat that might not be a stat anymore by the time Saturday's game is over: New Mexico State has not allowed a sack or thrown an interception all season long (edit: NMSU tossed a late INT against UTEP once the game was out of reach). Keep those sack and INT streaks alive on Saturday, and the Aggies can make this more of a game than most people expect. Also, good luck keeping those streaks alive.
What New Mexico State can do to lose
The strength of the Aggie offense is its running game. And someone should probably tell Seth Smith and Kenny Turner. The two Aggie RBs average a combined 57 rushing yards per game, which is not very good. If they cannot rush for 75 yards or more against Boise State, the Aggies are in for a long night.
"Long night" might be a relative term if Boise State jumps out to a big lead. New Mexico State has shown a knack for staying in games in the first half and laying an egg in the third quarter. If the egg gets laid in quarters one or two on Saturday night, you can probably go to bed at 7:30. Like Dick Tomey.
What Boise State can do to win
WR Marcus Allen has been the team's only offensive weapon so far this season. If Boise State holds Allen under 100 total yards, the Broncos will win going away and possibly even pitch a shutout.
The Broncos should be able to do pretty much whatever they want on offense against New Mexico State's 119th-ranked defense. Boise State is going to score a lot of points Saturday night. NMSU will have to keep up. If the Broncos win the special teams battle and take away the threat of Taveon Rogers, I have a hard time seeing where the Aggies will get their points.
What Boise State can do to lose
A lot would have to go wrong for Boise State to lose this one, and a good place for wrong to start is with turnovers and penalties. Boise State beating itself is New Mexico State's best chance to beat Boise State.
Special teams. I joked above that Boise State is bad on special teams all of a sudden, but that's not really true. As ST coach Jeff Choate explains:
Like I told the guys, "You didn't become bad football players overnight. You've been doggone good at this for a long time. We'll get it fixed."
Also, I'm not 100 percent sure he said "doggone."
- Defensive playcalling. New Mexico State head coach DeWayne Walker had been calling the defense, to the team's detriment, so he has handed off those duties to someone else. I'm not sure how much of an emotional lift "change in playcalling responsibilities" is worth, but there is a chance that the Aggie defense could be better on Saturday.
What would have to happen for New Mexico State to pull the upset on Saturday night? Any worries heading into the game? Sad to see New Mexico State on the schedule for the last time? Share your thoughts in the comments.