Fresno State Vs. New Mexico: Three Keys To A Lobos Win

Fresno State Vs. New Mexico: Three Keys To A Lobos Win

Mountain West Football

Fresno State Vs. New Mexico: Three Keys To A Lobos Win

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Fresno State vs. New Mexico: Three Keys to a Lobos Win


The Lobos head home to face red-hot Fresno State in Mountain West play. Here’s our preview of how UNM can stop the Bulldogs.


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UNM looks to get back in the win column.

WEEK 8: Fresno State Bulldogs (5-1, 2-0 Mountain West) vs. New Mexico Lobos (3-3, 1-1 Mountain West)

WHEN: Saturday, October 20 — 5:30 PM MT/4:30 PM PT

WHERE: Dreamstyle Stadium; Albuquerque, New Mexico (39,224)

TV: ESPNU

STREAM: FuboTV; get a seven-day free trial.

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: Fresno State leads the series 12-4. In the last meeting on October 14, 2017, the Bulldogs defeated New Mexico, 38-0, in Fresno.

WEBSITES: GoLobos.com, the official New Mexico athletics website | GoBulldogs.com, the official Fresno State athletics website

GAME NOTES (PDF): New Mexico | Fresno State

FOOTBALL STUDY HALL STAT PROFILES: link

The New Mexico Lobos followed up a pair of offensive eruptions with a dud against Colorado State last Saturday, missing a huge opportunity to keep pace with Mountain division leader Utah State. It won’t get any easier now with Fresno State coming to the Land of Enchantment.

Jeff Tedford’s Bulldogs have been every bit as dominant as fans expected since their puzzling loss to Minnesota, winning their last four games by an average margin of 33.7 to 11.8. UNM has looked much improved overall on offense, but the Fresno State defense is likely to be the best they face in conference play this year.

Here’s what New Mexico can do to win again against Fresno State.

Three Keys to a New Mexico Win

Rebound on third downs.

Until Saturday’s loss to CSU, New Mexico had converted on at least 40% of their third-down chances in every game. That changed when they finished just 3-of-11 against the Rams, but they’ll need as much recovery as they can get against Fresno State.

The Bulldogs lead the Mountain West by allowing opponents to move the chains just 26.14% of the time, and there are no splits that the Lobos can easily exploit since they’re fifth in the FBS in third-and-short Success Rate (one yard or fewer), 13th against third-and-medium, and 10th against third-and-long (seven yards or more). If Sheriron Jones can improve his performance on Passing Downs — he was 3-of-8 against Colorado State for 33 yards, but he also absorbed two sacks — they’ll have a chance.

Contain the tight ends.

San Jose State’s Josh Oliver might lead Mountain West tight ends in catches and receiving yards, but no tight end unit in the conference has done more work than Fresno State’s. The quartet of Jared Rice, Cam Sutton, Kyle Riddering and David Tangipa has combined for 36 catches, 425 yards and five touchdowns.

It’ll be up to New Mexico’s linebackers, then, to try and keep up with athletes who are just as dangerous running up the seam as they are in goal-to-go situations, and it’ll be interesting to see how much they try to challenge Evahelotu Tohi, who is one of two Lobos with a team-leading two interceptions.

Get enough plays on specials to survive the field position battle.

Fresno State punter Blake Cusick has quietly had himself a very good year, leading the Mountain West in net punting and pinning 17 of his 30 punts inside the 20-yard line. The Bulldogs have shown that they’re comfortable letting their defense win games and they’ve been very successful in that regard, with the second-best opponents’ starting field position (23.8-yard line) in the FBS.

This could make how they treat Marcus Hayes a key turning point, especially if the redshirt freshman can keep up his recent production. He leads the Mountain West with 15.8 yards per punt return and he averaged over 20 yards per return against both New Mexico State and CSU, so if he can continue to help prop up what has been a net positive for the Lobos this season — the offense ranks 14th overall in average starting field position — it’ll do Jones and company a significant favor.

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