Last week's comeback attempt against the San Jose State Spartans ended in disappointment for the Cougars, who will likely use this week as an opportunity to vent some frustration by beating up on a significantly weaker opponent.
What we know about New Mexico State (1-9)
Oh the Aggies. Their lone win this season came against FCS Sacramento State in week 1, and it's been downhill ever since. The average score for an NMSU game this season is NMSU 18, Opponent 36. The closest they came to winning against anyone in FBS was an 8 point loss to Idaho.
NMSU is led by QB Andrew Manley, who has stats BYU fans might recognize: 2358 passing yards, 53.8 completion percentage, 7 yards per attempt, 14 TDs, 10 INTs, and a 2012 passer rating of 121.5. He's basically as good a passer as Riley Nelson. Manley's biggest receiving targets are Austin Franklin and Kemonte Bateman. Franklin has 1135 receiving yards this season, averaging a whopping 17 yards per catch as well as 9 touchdowns. Bateman has 529 receiving yards and 3 TDs. Their top rusher is Germi Morrison. Germi has rushed for 580 yards, averaging under 5 yards per rush, and only has one TD.
The last time New Mexico State had a winning season was 2002, when they went 7-5.
What we know about BYU (6-5)
This is the *best* 6-5 team in the nation. Right? Just a handful of plays go differently, and the Cougars could have had an enviable 10-1 record. The problem? If the team was really as good as that, the games wouldn't have been close to begin with. Cougar fans are used to success, and they expect it.
The Cougars have more than enough power to outmatch New Mexico State. They've shown all season long that they can beat up on weaker competition (see WSUx2, Hawaii, Idaho) and struggle against good competition (see Utah, Boise, Utah State, OSU, Notre Dame, SJSU). As near as I can tell, the only truly brilliant game played by the Cougars was against Georgia Tech, which the Cougars dominated handily, 41-17. That game showed that they can play and dominate a good team, but they've only shown that level of play once this season.
Keys to the game
As with the Idaho game, I'm replacing my typical "keys to the game" with "things I'd like to see." I just don't see anything her but a Cougar victory, so the "key" is to show up. Beyond that, here is what I'd like to see from the Cougars.
So many of the better teams BYU played this season were able to keep BYU's DL and LBs at bay. NMSU should give us a great opportunity to see some highlights from Ezekiel Ansah (Ziggy) and Kyle Van Noy, among others.
200 Rushing Yards
Jamaal Williams would obviously pick up most of these, but I'd also like to see a breakout game from Paul Lasike. If Riley starts, he should be able to pick up a good chunk of these as well.
0 Turnovers given up
If Riley plays, I think a more reasonable goal might be 2. Seriously though, we need to be better at protecting the ball, and that starts with the QB.
Last year BYU beat New Mexico State 42-7, an exact replica of their score against Idaho that year. I see no reason why the Cougars shouldn't duplicate the feat this year, so I'm calling a win for BYU with the same score from their Idaho game this season: 52-13.