Houston Baptist vs. New Mexico: Game Preview, How to Watch, Prediction
The Lobos open the season at home against FCS Houston Baptist. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for against the Huskies.
A unique opponent.
WEEK 1: Houston Baptist Huskies vs. New Mexico Lobos
WHEN: Thursday, September 2 — 6:00 PM MT/5:00 PM PT
WHERE: University Stadium; Albuquerque, NM
TV: The game will be broadcast locally on My50.
STREAMING: Mountain West Network
RADIO: The New Mexico broadcast can be found in and around Albuquerque on 770 AM (KKOB). The Houston Baptist broadcast can be found online via the Husky Sports Network.
SERIES RECORD: This is the first meeting between Houston Baptist and New Mexico.
SP+ PROJECTION: New Mexico by 22.9
The New Mexico Lobos kick off the 2021 season with a home date against the Houston Baptist Huskies.
Unlike most of the rest of the FCS, Houston Baptist actually played a handful of games last fall. With a breakneck offense at their disposal, they threw some scares into a handful of FBS opponents with an ability to light up the scoreboard.
That, in itself, is reason enough for Danny Gonzales’s men not to take the Huskies lightly, so here’s how the Lobos can start the season with a win against the visitors.
Three Keys to a New Mexico Victory
1. Contain the Huskies passing game (at least a little bit).
Man, the Huskies love to throw the football. HBU elected to play a handful of games last fall, against three FBS opponents and Eastern Kentucky, and did just that to an extreme, passing twice for every rushing attempt. In all, HBU averaged 8.47 yards per throw and racked up 15 touchdowns against two interceptions.
Given New Mexico’s struggles defending the pass in 2020 (65.% completion rate and 9.0 YPA allowed), this will be a good litmus test for a secondary bringing every major contributor back. The good news is that record-breaking Huskies quarterback Bailey Zappe is now at Western Kentucky, so while new starter Blaise Bentsen will do exactly what his predecessor did, UNM has a chance to prove they can get hands on the ball and play with tighter coverage more consistently.
2. Find ways for young offensive talents to contribute.
New Mexico’s depth chart is interesting in that it provides a peek at how the future might be starting right now on offense. Freshman wide receiver Keyonta Lanier, for instance, won a starting job while Luke Wysong figures to see plenty of reps as a backup to Mannie Logan-Greene and top 2021 recruit Aaron Dumas is listed as Bobby Cole’s primarh backup at running back.
The Huskies defense should make for an excellent proving ground because, despite some individual talents like safety Patrick Wolfe and linebacker Brennan Young, they gave up nearly 600 yards per game and 7.22 yards per play in 2020. If the new arrivals can get involved early, it could pay dividends later on.
3. Get Terry Wilson some easy throws against a suspect defense.
This is largely related to the second key in that HBU gave up 8.82 yards per attempt in their brief fall campaign, a good omen for a Lobos attack looking to stay healthier and improve as a result of continuity.
Much of that will come down to how well Wilson meets the high expectations, but he, Cole, and sophomore wide receiver Andrew Erickson provide a solid core that he should have every opportunity to get familiar with. If he can move the ball early and often here, fans can feel a lot better about the season’s potential.
The Lobos may still be a work in progress overall, but with more talent on board everywhere, they should be in a position to learn a thing or two about their progress while also taking care of business against an interesting and flawed opponent. Expect a lot of points, a potential good sign of what’s to come for the cherry and silver.
New Mexico 45, Houston Baptist 30