Fresno State vs. NMSU: Game Preview, Kick Time, Livestream, Odds, Prediction
The Bulldogs close out non-conference play against the New Mexico State Aggies. Here’s how to watch the game and what to watch for.
Can the ‘Dogs make it 3-for-3 against NMSU for the Mountain West?
WEEK 5: Fresno State Bulldogs (1-2) vs. New Mexico State Aggies (0-4)
WHEN: Saturday, September 28 — 5:00 PM PT/6:00 PM MT
WHERE: Aggie Memorial Stadium; Las Cruces, New Mexico (30,343)
RADIO: The Fresno State broadcast can be found around the Central Valley on ESPN 940 AM, while the New Mexico State broadcast can be found in and around Las Cruces on 99.5 FM (KFPX).
SERIES RECORD: Fresno State leads the overall series 17-1. In the last meeting on November 12, 2011, however, New Mexico State defeated the Bulldogs, 48-45, in Las Cruces.
LAST WEEK: Fresno State earned its first win of the season with a 34-20 victory against Sacramento State. New Mexico State lost a wild 55-52 shootout in the annual Rio Grande Rivalry against New Mexico.
ODDS (via OddsShark): Fresno State -17.5
SP+ PROJECTION: Fresno State by 21.1 (89% win probability)
FEI PROJECTION: Fresno State by 19.7
The Fresno State Bulldogs wrap up a wild September to remember with a road date against the New Mexico State Aggies. The old WAC foes haven’t squared off since the Aggies finally drew their first blood in the overall series, but things haven’t changed much since then for Doug Martin’s squad.
To date, New Mexico State has paid a heavy toll for a very demanding September slate: After four games, the Aggies rank 109th among FBS teams in yards per play on offense, 115th in scoring offense, 128th in yards per play allowed on defense, and 129th in scoring defense.
Here’s how the Bulldogs can close out non-conference play with a win over the Aggies.
Three Keys to a Fresno State Victory
1. Take better care of the football.
Last week’s victory over Sacramento State saw improvements in a lot of crucial areas, but three turnovers caused a lot of unnecessary aggravation. In 2018, the Bulldogs had 14 giveaways in 14 games; in three games so far this season, they’ve given it away seven times.
Jorge Reyna took a step in the right direction with his first interception-free game, so now everyone else will need to do their part for the ‘Dogs to get back to the careful efficiency to which fans became accustomed. Thankfully, that hasn’t exactly been NMSU’s strong suit, as the Aggies have just two interceptions on 136 opponent pass attempts (a 1.4% rate) and, perhaps more surprisingly, have yet to force even one fumble.
2. Make life hard on Josh Adkins.
NMSU’s sophomore quarterback has had a lot of responsibility thrust upon him in the face of some brutal opposition and he’s been about as up and down as he was in 2018. He’s completed 64.4% of his passes, but he’s averaging just 5.6 yards per attempt and owns an interception rate of 3.8%.
The pass-heavy offense has also helped opponents rack up 14 sacks so far, meaning that a Bulldogs front that’s seen its per-game sack numbers improve upon the previous two years might be primed for a breakout. Forcing Adkins into mistakes early and often will make life significantly easier.
3. Don’t be afraid to air it out.
With a healthy Keric Wheatfall back in the fold and some promising early returns from the complement of young Bulldogs receivers, there really isn’t any reason why Ryan Grubb and the offense shouldn’t try to go for the early kill.
To wit, NMSU is tied for 123rd nationally in 20-plus yard pass plays allowed and tied for last with seven pass plays of 40-plus yards allowed. Whether it’s breaking out plays to get receivers in space or taking shots down the middle of the field, don’t be shocked if Reyna makes good on David Carr’s recent optimism and improves on last week’s performance (28-41-326-2-0)
We’ll keep this one simple: If anything, some intrepid bettors may end up sweating the substantial spread that Vegas has laid out, but even that doesn’t seem likely. A mistake-free performance should enable the ‘Dogs win this one going away and get a boost of confidence heading into Mountain West play.
Fresno State 42, New Mexico State 17