New Mexico vs. #21 Boise State: Three Keys To A Broncos Win
Boise State looks to remain perfect in Mountain West play against the Lobos. Here’s how they can tally another win.
How can the Broncos take care of business as expected?
WEEK 12: New Mexico Lobos (2-7, 0-5 Mountain West) vs. #22 Boise State Broncos (8-1, 5-0 MW)
WHEN: Saturday, November 16 — 8:15 PM MT/7:15 PM PT
WHERE: Albertsons Stadium; Boise, Idaho (36,387)
RADIO: The Boise State broadcast can be found on the Bronco Sports Network, including flagships 670 AM (KBOI) and 93.1 FM (KTIK) in Boise, while the New Mexico broadcast can be found on 770 AM (KKOB).
SERIES RECORD: Boise State leads the series 9-1. In the last meeting on November 16, 2018, the Broncos defeated the Lobos, 45-14, in Albuquerque.
LAST WEEK: Boise State needed overtime to beat Wyoming at home, 20-17, while New Mexico was on a bye after losing on the road at Nevada.
ODDS (via OddsShark): Boise State -27.5
SP+ PROJECTION: Boise State by 27.1 (94% win probability)
FEI PROJECTION: Boise State by 34.5
It wasn’t easy for the Boise State Broncos to stay on top in the Mountain division race, but after a hard fought win last Saturday night, they’ll look to run it back and do it again against the New Mexico Lobos.
Bob Davie’s team returns to the field for the first time since Nahje Flowers’s unfortunate passing and, while it hasn’t shown in the win column, have proven to be pesky over the last five or six weeks. Hank Bachmeier’s uncertain health proved to be a factor in Boise State’s escape last week, too, so there’s a chance the Lobos can hang around if the Broncos don’t come out sharp.
Here’s what Boise State can do to score a win over New Mexico.
Three Keys to a Boise State Victory
1. Put the clamps on Ahmari Davis.
Even though Boise State has been stout against the run this fall, there’s a decent chance the Lobos lean early and often since their passing offense is, charitably, pretty erratic. He’s had no more than 16 carries in each of UNM’s last three games, but he has seven runs of 20-plus yards this year (tied for third among Mountain West runners) and is the most significant reason why the Lobos rank in the top 40 by Opportunity Rate (percentage of carries that gain at least four yards).
He’s also been remarkably effective in short-yardage situations, as well, with 12 first downs on 18 third-down carries with three or fewer yards to go, so the Broncos will need to make shutting him down a priority.
2. Put the ball in Chase Cord’s hands early.
This key came up with regards to Hank Bachmeier’s slow starts in last week’s preview, but it might be worth getting aggressive with the pass even if Cord ends up making the start. The Lobos have struggled mightily in defending the pass, allowing Mountain West quarterbacks to complete 64.9% of their passes at 9.2 yards per attempt, and Cord has been remarkably effective early in games.
Small sample caveats apply, but he is 11-of-12 with 124 yards passing in three first quarters. Furthermore, first down has been Cord’s best down because he currently sports a 188.04 passer rating on 37 such attempts. Khalil Shakir and John Hightower look like they could be massive mismatches, so head coach Bryan Harsin might consider letting it fly and seeing what happens.
3. Don’t let the ground game scuffle.
Boise State never really got its running backs going against Wyoming last week and while New Mexico doesn’t have quite that caliber of defense, they’ve been solid in defending the run. The Lobos have allowed 3.9 YPC in conference play and that figure may be inflated by their subpar performance against Hawaii (take it out and that figure drops to 3.1).
It’ll be interesting to see how the Broncos offensive line handles the linebacker trio of Alex Hart, Mo Vainikolo and Jacobi Hearn, who have combined for 27.5 tackles for loss and are the primary reasons UNM rank right around the national average with a 19.1% Stuff Rate and in the top 50 by Power Success Rate (percentage of runs on 3rd or 4th down, two yards or less to go, that achieve a first down or touchdown). If the Lobos keep the Broncos from consistently reaching the second level on the ground, they could hang around a lot longer than you’d expect.
Put simply, no one should expect the Lobos to seriously challenge Boise State, but a slow start from the Broncos could enable New Mexico to keep things close for a little while. In the end, though, the UNM offense is just too erratic to see them doing anything more than hitting on a couple of big plays, without ever closing the distance.
Boise State 35, New Mexico 20