New Mexico State vs. San Jose State: Game Preview, How to Watch, Livestream, Odds, Prediction
San Jose State will look to rebound at home against New Mexico State. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for against the Aggies.
Can the defending champs rally?
WEEK 5: New Mexico State Aggies (1-4) vs. San Jose State Spartans (2-2, 1-0 Mountain West)
WHEN: Saturday, October 2 — 7:30 PM PT/8:30 PM MT
WHERE: CEFCU Stadium; San Jose, CA
TV: NBC Sports California
STREAMING: Mountain West Network
RADIO: The San Jose State broadcast can be found in San Jose on 90.5 FM (KSJS), around San Francisco on 860 AM (KTRB), and on satellite radio at Sirius XM channel 382. The New Mexico State broadcast can be found in Las Cruces on 99.5 FM (KXPZ) and elsewhere throughout the state on the affiliates of the NM State Sports Network.
SERIES RECORD: San Jose State leads the all-time series, 17-3. In the last meeting on November 10, 2012, the Spartans defeated the Aggies, 47-7, in Las Cruces.
LAST WEEK: San Jose State lost to Western Michigan on the road, 23-3, while New Mexico State lost to Hawaii at home, 41-21.
GAME NOTES (PDF): New Mexico State | San Jose State
ODDS (as of 9/29, via Vegas Insider): San Jose State -27.5
SP+ PROJECTION: San Jose State by 27.5
FEI PROJECTION: San Jose State by 15.2
The San Jose State Spartans had a hard time getting things going last Saturday against Western Michigan, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll be able to do so against the New Mexico State Aggies at home this weekend.
NMSU has had a rough go of it themselves in 2021 so far, but Doug Martin’s Aggies have shown enough flashes that they might be able to steal a win from the Spartans if the home team isn’t prepared. Here’s how SJSU can keep that from happening and claim their third win of the fall.
Three Keys to a San Jose State Victory
1. Put the squeeze on an error-prone offense.
Given SJSU’s current offensive woes, it may fall to the defense to create opportunities or, even better, points to keep the Aggies down. After last week’s game against Western Michigan, they’re actually outpacing last year’s Spartan defense by points per drive allowed (1.58 PPD in 2020, 1.51 this year) and have already defended more passes than in all of the previous season… but they still have zero interceptions and have only forced four fumbles.
However, New Mexico State is just 117th in offensive points per drive and has coughed up the ball nine times in five games, so they represent San Jose State’s best opportunity yet to reverse current fortunes.
2. Find answers, any answers, in the passing game.
Nick Starkel hadn’t looked like himself all season long before getting hurt last week, so even though his status for Saturday is yet to be determined, it’s no guarantee that he or anyone will be in a position to bully the Aggies secondary.
That would’ve sounded ludicrous a month ago, but Starkel has only completed 50.4% of his passes to date, he’s thrown at least one interception in every game this year, primary backup Nick Nash has seen more time at wide receiver than at quarterback in recent weeks, and the two players who replaced him against Western Michigan, Walker Eget and Natano Woods, combined to go 3-of-12 for four yards. It’s an ugly situation.
NMSU hasn’t been great at defending the pass, either, because they’ve given up 9.6 yards per attempt in four games against FBS competition this year, but the Aggies also have 14 passes defended, including four interceptions. It’s an unexpected weakness-on-weakness kind of matchup, then, and whichever team can claim the upper hand could find itself in the driver’s seat pretty easily.
3. Protect whoever ends up under center.
Starkel isn’t the only person to blame for San Jose State’s offensive struggles, though. The offensive line didn’t hold up its end of the bargain last week against Western Michigan, either, coughing up as many sacks to the Broncos (eight) as they allowed in all of 2020.
The Aggies don’t create havoc left and right, but they have managed at least two sacks in their last four games and have at least one established playmaker in linebacker Chris Ojoh, who leads the defense with four sacks. Getting the quick-strike passing game back on track should allow SJSU to keep the visitors at arm’s length but, again, this is hardly a given after their recent performances.
The defending champions are on the ropes, that much is clear, meaning that NMSU represents their last best chance to solve what’s ailed them to this point in the season. The Aggies still aren’t good, but the gap looks a lot closer than the spread would suggest. In all, though, the Spartans defense will be the best overall unit on the field Saturday, so as long as the offense can avoid backbreaking mistakes, they should have enough in the tank to carry the team to an unglamorous win.
San Jose State 20, New Mexico State 14