San Diego State Aztecs (2-3 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. New Mexico Lobos (2-3 SU, 1-4 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date and Time: Friday, October 10, 2014 at 9:30PM EST
Where: University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
by Scott, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SDSU -6.5/NM +6.5
Over/Under Total: Off
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On Friday, the San Diego Aztecs make the trip to Albuquerque to take on the New Mexico Lobos in a Mountain West Conference battle. The Aztecs came up short on Friday, losing on the road to Fresno State, 24-13 to fall to a disappointing 2-3. New Mexico is also 2-3, but is coming off a 21-9 win at UTSA, where they were 17-point underdogs.
Aztecs senior quarterback Quinn Kaehler is still injured with a shoulder sprain and will miss his second straight game against New Mexico. That means freshman Nick Bawden will make his second start and the first one wasnt ultra-promising. There were some signs that Bawden was warming to the task, but the effort on a whole was mediocre at best. One shouldnt rule out the possibility that he will improve on his 9-for-24 with 2 picks showing on Friday. Two late picks allowed Fresno State to pull away. If he can keep from turning the ball over and the offense can avoid the slew of untimely penalties they suffered on Friday, the Aztecs should be OK in this game.
New Mexico also lost to Fresno State by 11 a few weeks back, before their nifty 21-9 road win over UTSA. As usual, their passing-attack was barely there. It is strangely efficient at times, but their calling card is one of the nations most prolific ground games. On Saturday, both Lamar Jordan and Jhurell Pressley were over 100 yards. Crusoe Gongbay is also a key cog in the Lobos run-game. But you have to give the Aztecs credit. Despite a slow start to the 2014 season, they really havent been allowing big performances to opposing running backs. Theyll need more of that on Friday.
New Mexico allowed only 9 points to UTSA on Saturday, but before that had the NCAAs longest streak in allowing consecutive 30-point games with 11. Theyve been giving up some big performances, including 163 yard to RB Marteze Walker and 318 to QB Brian Burrell when they played Fresno State. Still, this is a program that is in the positive stages of a steady rebuilding process under Bob Davie. To make New Mexico simply a bad team is actually light years from where they were a few years ago when they may have been the most down-and-out program in the nation. Against what may have been a better Aztecs team last season, the Lobos only lost 35-30.
Injuries are hurting the Aztecs, with their senior QB out, forcing them to turn to a freshman. And top WR Ezell Ruffin is still out for a few more games. But they have a nice running back in Donnel Pumphrey, who has 561 yards with 9 touchdowns already. Its just with a freshman quarterback trying to find his bearings, with a ramshackle receiving corps, this offense will struggle. They werent really even thriving when their horses were in there.
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It may be fair to say that New Mexico has more momentum despite both teams standing at 2-3. For the Lobos, the expectations are lower, with San Diego State at the end of a mini-renaissance period for the program. New Mexico is seeing slow progress and is approaching the season in a pressure-free way. San Diego State, however, is trying to avoid a downward spiral after finishing 2013 promisingly by winning 5 of their last 6. In a weird way, New Mexico is just more comfortable in their own skin right now.
New Mexico is averaging over 6 yards per run team-wide. Sure, theyre one-dimensional, but that one dimension is a handful for opposing defenses to withstand. And with a quarterback sometimes appearing he is on ice skates out there, the Aztecs defense may be spending extended periods of time on the field. In a road game, this could lead to late-burnout for San Diego State, a team that doesnt always finish games with a flourish.
The Aztecs defense will be relied upon to do a lot of the heavy lifting in this game. They fared well against Fresno State, allowing just over 300 yards of total offense. And they will be able to key in on the New Mexico run-game, knowing the passing-game is negligible. Meanwhile, New Mexico will have to stop Pumphrey and there havent been any signs this season that they will be able to do that. For however good the Lobos have been at running the ball, theyre maybe even worse at stopping it, giving up an average of 262 yards per game.
Despite not having their QB and their pass-game suffering with the loss of Ruffin, the Aztecs should still be able to get some business done on offense. The young strapping Bawden should be better this week, with some needed game experience last week and now facing a less-than-stellar Lobos D. But even against New Mexico, the Aztecs cant afford these losses in personnel. San Diego State may be a team worth watching if they come out of this period intact, but they appear to be in the throes of at least a mini-funk. Thats not a team you should be rushing to lay 6.5 points on the road–even against the Lobos. I look for New Mexico to hang right in there, with an outside shot at an outright win.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the New Mexico Lobos plus 6.5 points.