New Mexico vs. Boise State: Keys to a Lobos Win, How to Watch, Odds, Prediction
The Lobos look to spoil Senior Day on the blue against Boise State. Here’s how to watch and what to watch for against the Broncos.
The Lobos have faced long odds before.
WEEK 12: New Mexico Lobos (3-7, 1-5 Mountain West) vs. Boise State Broncos (6-4, 4-2 Mountain West)
WHEN: Saturday, November 20 — 7:00 PM MT/6:00 PM PT
WHERE: Albertsons Stadium; Boise, ID
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes FS1, by following this link.
WEATHER: Kickoff temperature of 42 degrees, 37 degrees with wind chill
RADIO: The New Mexico broadcast can be found on the Lobo Radio Network, including flagship 770 AM (KKOB) in Albuquerque. The Boise State broadcast can be found throughout Idaho on the affiliates of the Bronco Radio Network, including flagship 670 AM (KBOI) in Boise.
SERIES RECORD: Boise State leads the all-time series, 10-1. In the last meeting on November 16, 2019, the Broncos defeated the Lobos, 42-9, in Boise.
LAST WEEK: New Mexico lost on the road to Fresno State, 34-7, while Boise State defeated Wyoming at home, 23-13.
ODDS (as of 11/18, via Vegas Insider): Boise State -27.5
SP+ PROJECTION: Boise State by 26.4
FEI PROJECTION: Boise State by 28.4
PARKER FLEMING PROJECTION: Boise State 98.06% win probability
The New Mexico Lobos (3-7,0-0) will go on the road to face Boise State on the blue turf this Saturday, on the Broncos’ senior night. In the next couple of weeks, the Broncos have a lot to play for, including a huge Friday night matchup against San Diego State on November 26 in an early morning game at 10:00 AM. The Lobos, meanwhile, are playing purely for pride and building for the future with a very young team under second-year head coach Danny Gonzales.
When he took over the program, Gonzales said that this would be a marathon and not a sprint, which has proven to be very accurate. His Lobos have had a rough year in the Mountain West, dealing with everything from injured quarterbacks (both Terry Wilson and Isaiah Chavez) to playing 18 redshirt freshmen in last week’s contest against the Fresno State Bulldogs.
Anyone who knows college football’s speed knows how hard it is for younger players straight out of high school to adjust in order to be competitive. One could look at Lobo running back Aaron Dumas, who started slow but is now putting up big numbers rushing as he has adjusted to the speed of the game. This is great for the future as far as playing time for future players and getting them to feel the college game’s pace, but not so much as far as winning many ball games.
Three Keys to a New Mexico Victory
1. The offense must stay on the field and score points as well.
The Football Bowl Subdivision has 130 schools, and the Lobos are dead last in scoring offense at 14 points per game. They also happen to rank 129th in averaging only 253.1 yards per game. In their six conference games, the Lobos have scored multiple touchdowns in a single game twice and have averaged 11.5 points per game.
Losing starting quarterback Terry Wilson on October 9, against San Diego State, has affected this Lobo offense as he could both throw and run the ball and his replacements have struggled to provide both elements of the game as effectively. Last week, the Lobos struggled against Fresno State as starting quarterback Isaiah Chavez completed just two passes for 34 yards; ouch!
Offensive coordinator Derek Warehime has implemented a version of the triple option in the last couple of games and it has helped in the rushing game, with big plays out of Bobby Cole and freshman Aaron Dumas. That rushing attack has helped carry this offense, and Dumas led all running backs in last week’s game with 143 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries, becoming the Mountain West’s freshman of the week for his excellent performance against Fresno State.
The Lobos ground game has been at its best in the last three games, so the proof is in the numbers; this triple-option attack is working to take advantage of its talented running backs, both Cole and Dumas. As good as the attack has been recently, as well as improved offensive line play, they are one-dimensional and teams load the box to stop the run knowing this. At some point, New Mexico has to rediscover its passing game.
This Saturday, the Lobos offense will have to hit on all eight cylinders as it goes against the one of the country’s top defenses on their home blue turf; what makes the Broncos very good at keeping the opponents out of the end zone. Boise State’s defense ranks 22nd in the country, allowing opponents an average of 20.1 points per game, 70th in total defense, averaging 386.3 yards gained by the opposing offense per game.
Through their three-game winning streak, however, the Broncos defense has allowed an average of just 15.3 points per game.
2. The defense must play lights out and get turnovers.
Defensively, the Lobos struggled against Fresno State by allowing 397 total yards, 300 of which came through the air. On the other side of the ball, Boise State’s scoring offense ranks 58th in the FBS, with an average of 29.7 points scored per game.
The Broncos’ coaching staff is not looking past New Mexico as they have one of the best defensive coordinators in college football, Rocky Long. Long installed his infamous 3-3-5 defensive scheme both at San Diego State and New Mexico, and it’s very effective when not giving up big plays. Despite the offense’s struggles, New Mexico’s scoring defense is tied for 72nd, with an average of 26.9 points allowed per game.
The defensive scheme uses quicker, smaller edge rushers and multiple looks, motions, blitzes from every angle and formations to confuse the offensive line and the quarterback. Broncos offensive coordinator Tim Plough is very familiar with Coach Long and has coached against him in the past, noting on Monday that he has prepared for the 3-3-5 defensive when Long was still at San Diego State and he was coaching at Northern Arizona in 2014 and again at UC Davis back in 2017.
Plough said he thinks Long is one of history’s greatest college football coaching minds, adding that “The structure of [the 3-3-5] doesn’t make sense logically sometimes to the quarterback or to the offensive line, because there’s so much movement going on that it’s not the normal targeting or the normal coverages that you’re gonna see… So what he’s done is created a defense that, for them, is very simple, but for the offense is very chaotic.”
3. Big plays out of special teams with skill guys.
There is no question in college football how much big plays out of special teams or just solid play can help a team compete and win. The Lobos must play smart football and execute their schemes on both sides of the ball to compete against a Broncos team playing outstanding football.
What should help the Lobos is that Boise State teams of the past were more explosive than this year’s iteration. They’ve improved of late when running the ball thanks to George Holani’s return, but overall they’ve been average.
Combined with a Rocky Long defense, the Lobos should compete for a few quarters; the question will be scoring after any stops the Lobos can make. New Mexico is dead last in scoring and have to dramatically change this number to have hopes of pulling the upset of the Broncos on senior night.
For the Lobos to pull an upset like they did in 2015 under Bob Davie, they will need turnovers, control time of possession on offense, and get scoring out of its talented running backs. Like the old adage says, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog”
These young Lobos will have to have a massive fight in them to pull this upset, and must play well in all facets of the game on offense, defense and special teams.
Boise State 34, New Mexico 21