Fresno State Bulldogs (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. New Mexico Lobos (1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS)
College Football Week 5
Date and Time: Friday, September 26, 8:00pm EST
Where: University Stadium – Albuquerque, NM
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Fresno St. -5.5/N. Mexico +5.5
Over/Under Total: 71.5
This Friday night, if you are not at a local high school game, tune into ESPN2 to catch a Mountain West Conference showdown when the Fresno State Bulldogs travel to New Mexico to take on the Lobos. Both teams sit with just one win and a loss for either side could send the rest of the season into a tailspin. Fresno State comes in as a road favorite at 5.5 points and the total points are set at a whopping 71.5. This is the first conference contest for both teams and it would be a great start to get out to that 1-0 Mountain West record. Week night games are interesting many times. I cannot tell you how many times in the last few seasons I have seen the home underdog pull of the upset on similar stages. Will it happen again?
In recent history, Fresno State has been the more successful of these two teams. Just last season, the Bulldogs finished with an 11-1 regular season record, only to lose in the Las Vegas Bowl to the USC Trojans. Well, this 2014 campaign kicked off with the same match-up against the Trojans, seeing Fresno lose yet again, but this time by a staggering 52-13 final score. So far, in three of the four games this season, Fresno State have given up over 50 points. The Bulldogs defense ranks 125th in the nation in points allowed and their offense ranks just 80th in points scored. This is not a good combination and if Fresno State plans to compete with ANYONE this season, they must improve at least on one side of the ball. Losing quarterback Derek Carr, who is now a Dallas Cowboy and will be getting his first professional start this week, has not been easy. His replacement, Brian Burrell has not done a terrible job, but is a far cry from what Derek Carr was to the program. So far in 2014, Fresno State ranks 60th in passing yards at close to 250 a game, and they rank 56th in rushing offense. Yardage wise, Fresno is not terrible, they need to score the ball more. The key to this game is very simple, play some defense. If the Bulldogs can come into this game and force some turnovers and make life difficult for the Lobos offense, I do not see any reason why they cannot win this game and win it big. Many people predict a shootout, Fresno State would love nothing more htan to prove that theory wrong.
New Mexico come into this game as a home underdog, but I do not believe they are that bad of a team. The have the 5th best rushing attack in the nation, averaging close to 350 yards a game, but the passing game is polar opposite, ranking just 125th. Much of this can be credited to the style of football New Mexico plays. If a passing game is needed, I have faith that the Lobos have the ability to move the ball through the air as well. New Mexico has been competitive in all three games this season. The final score of the Arizona State game looks like it was a one sided affair, but New Mexico held their own with the 15th ranked team in the nation for most of that game. The main reason that New Mexico is sitting as a 5.5 point home dog is due to recent history against Fresno State. The Bulldogs have not only won the last four games straight up, they have also covered the spread in those contests as well. If you want to go even further back into this series, Fresno State has won 8 of the last 9 meetings straight up, covering the spread in all but two of those games. The key to New Mexico pulling off this upset is to grind this game out. Use that top five running game to milk some clock and keep this game from becoming an aerial shootout. If New Mexico can keep this game in the mid 20s, I think they have a good shot of not just covering, but winning.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: As I pointed out, it appears that Fresno State has not only had the upper hand in this series straight up, but they are covering the spread in this game at staggering rate as well. In the last ten years, it seems that New Mexico just cannot hang with them. Last season, a Derek Carr led Fresno State team won this game 69-28 and it really was not even that close. I have a feeling this season we will not see that kind of a blowout. The spread itself proves that the public thinks this is more of an evenly matched game than a year ago. Although New Mexico has yet to cover a spread this season, I think the time is now. Not only will the Lobos find a way to cover the 5.5, they will win this game. I am calling it now. The Lobos run game, and the Fresno State lack of defense will lead to the home team celebrating a 1-0 conference record once the clock reaches 00:00. PICK NEW MEXICO +5.5 AND UNDER THE POSTED TOTAL OF 71.5!!!!!