New Mexico vs. Colorado State: Three Keys to a Lobos Win
The Lobos look for their second straight Mountain West road victory against the Rams. Here’s our preview of how they can win.
UNM looks to play tough on the road again.
WEEK 7: New Mexico Lobos (3-2, 1-0 Mountain West) vs. Colorado State Rams (2-4, 1-1 MWC)
WHEN: Saturday, October 13 — 2:00 PM MT/1:00 PM PT
WHERE: Canvas Stadium; Fort Collins, Colorado (41,000)
TV: AT&T SportsNet. Check here for availability in your area.
STREAM: The game will be available on the Mountain West Network outside of the AT&T SportsNet footprint.
RADIO: The New Mexico broadcast can be found in and around Albuquerque on KKOB, 770 AM, and elsewhere throughout the state on the Lobos Radio Network, so check local listings.
SERIES RECORD: Colorado State leads the series 40-25. In the last meeting on October 20, 2017, the Rams defeated New Mexico, 27-24, in Albuquerque.
FOOTBALL STUDY HALL STAT PROFILES: link
Not a lot of people expected the New Mexico Lobos to start 1-0 in conference play, but they have an opportunity to establish themselves as a surprise contender if they can win on the road again, this time at Colorado State.
The Rams played one of the season’s weirdest games in their win against San Jose State last Saturday, dominating in the first half and fourth quarter while looking hopeless in the third quarter. With the Lobos looking more and more like a newly explosive offense, there’s a chance to do something UNM hasn’t done since 2006: Win in Fort Collins.
Here’s what New Mexico can do to win again against Colorado State.
Three Keys to a New Mexico Win
Produce at least an average running game.
The Lobos have managed to put together an offense that looks much difference from the ones in recent memory, even though they aren’t throwing the ball that much more than they did last year (37% against 32% in 2017). They’ve been much more productive through the air, anyway, and UNM’s per carry average has dropped from 5.11 YPC against FBS foes to just 3.9 YPC.
That’s going to make the matchup with Colorado State’s run defense very interesting. Charitably, the Rams have been… not good against enemy ground games, allowing 5.34 YPC (dead last in the Mountain West). They rank 125th in defensive Opportunity Rate and 124th in Stuff Rate, but they also shut down San Jose State last weekend by allowing just 1.61 YPC.
Keep connecting on high-leverage pass plays.
We’ve had about six quarters now where the Lobos have landed haymaker after haymaker with their passing game, and it’s not like they’ve been easy throws, either: Sheriron Jones was 6-of-10 on Passing Downs (2nd-and-8 or more, 3rd-and-5 or more, 4th-and-5 or more) for 62 yards against Liberty, then erupted for 122 yards on 5-of-7 attempts in the same situations against UNLV.
Against a CSU secondary that has been generally lousy against the pass — the Rams rank right around the national average in marginal efficiency on passing downs but 129th in marginal explosiveness — this represents a huge opportunity for UNM to prove the offense can still be dangerous when its back is against the wall.
Contain Izzy Matthews.
Colorado State was able to put together its most complete offensive performance of the year last week, in no small part, because the senior Matthews had his best game of 2018. Even then, though, the Rams have still not had a game that approaches their per carry average from 2017.
Doing what San Jose State could not will be a huge boost for the Lobos, but it could be a challenge. Though New Mexico has allowed a shade over four yards per carry against FBS competition, they rank in the triple digits in both Opportunity Rate (percentage of carries in which the OL “does its job” and produces at least five yards of rushing for the runner), Stuff Rate (percentage of plays stopped at or behind the line of scrimmage) and defensive line Havoc Rate.