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Arkansas State Red Wolves vs. New Mexico State Aggies: Preview, Viewing, Betting, and Respect

The Aggies enter Saturday's contest with the Red Wolves winners of three straight. But Arkansas State has won 6 straight and is hungry for its 4th Sun Belt title in five years.

Larry Rose III is the nation's 5th leading rusher.
Larry Rose III is the nation's 5th leading rusher.
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

There are two ways to look at the New Mexico State Aggies: 1) They are a 3-7 bottom feeder  of FBS football struggling through yet another losing season, or 2) They are winners of 3 straight behind some scary-good offensive performances.

If you choose the first narrative, you're supported by the Aggies conference-worst defense and bottom-ten ESPN FPI ranking. Located beyond even the outer rim of the Sun Belt, the Aggies couldn't even pay the conference for full membership. The program was recently the subject of an ESPN article titled "Why Is New Mexico State Playing Ole Miss – Or Anybody?" If you read the article, you're granted this grim snapshot:

Few teams in the history of sports have lost more, for longer, than New Mexico State football. The rest of this paragraph is rated PG-13 for disturbing images. The Aggies haven't been to a bowl game since 1960. They haven't won eight games in a season since 1965. Over the past 40 years, they have four winning seasons; in that same span, they have 16 seasons in which they won two or fewer games. They have arrived in Gainesville on a 10-game losing streak. Which is not as bad as their 18-game losing streak in 2012 and 2013. Which was not as bad as their 27-game losing streak from 1988 to 1990. They are currently in the Sun Belt and have changed conferences three times since 2000, with one year as an independent.

Fair enough. But consider peering at the Aggies through a Larry Rose-colored lens. New Mexico State is in the midst of a solid three-game win streak. The Aggies rank fourth in the conference in team rushing. Larry Rose the Third, who ranks fifth in the nation for rushing (1,481 yds, 12 TDs), isn't New Mexico State's only weapon. Andrew Allen (and backup Nick Jeanty) have also been phenomenal during the win streak. Combined, the two QBs have tossed 9 TDs in that span for 840 yards. The Vandals, Bobcats and Cajuns may not be the Sun Belt's elite this year, but 3-wins is pretty damn impressive nonetheless.

Meanwhile, the Red Wolves are on their own impressive win streak: 6 straight wins and undefeated in conference play. The defense leads the nation in INTs and is tied with Alabama for second with 4 Pick Sixes. Best of all, after half a season of battling rust and injuries, QB Fredi Knighten has returned to his All-SBC form. The Aggies (and the Texas State Bobcats) stand in the way of a perfect conference season, and Arkansas State must travel 1,126 miles to meet a New Mexico State team who has finally found its stride.

Start Time: 3 P.M CST

Broadcast: ESPN3, The Official Channel of the Sun Belt.

Weather Forecast: 60º, but a dry 60º

LocationAggie Memorial Stadium, Los Cruces, NM (capacity: 30,343)

Radio: 107.9 KFIN  (A-State), 101.7 FM The TEAM (Aggies)

Series Record: New Mexico State leads the overall series 6-3, though A-State has won the last two meetings.

Betting Line: A-State is a -18  favorite over NMS.

A-State's ESPN FPI Chances: 88%

When Last These Titans Met: The Red Wolves hosted the Aggies in Jonesboro and inhospitably treated them to a 68-35 drumming. Fredi Knighten passed for 296 yards, rushed for 153 yards, and tallied 4 touchdowns. On the other end, Larry Rose III dashed for 137 yards and a score, but it wasn't enough to prevent A-State from collecting its final win of 2014.

The Ballad of Larry Rose (the Third): During the last three games, Rose has averaged 203 yards and has scored half of his 12 rushing TDs. The scary part about Rose isn't that he's fifth in the nation for rushing; it's that he's just a Sophomore. The Sun Belt can expect to see at least one more year of this terror!

Red Wolves Down: The Red Wolves Monster D has been stellar this year, but the squad has taken its hits.

Girley is still "day-to-day", but Clifton, a freshman DB who made his first start of the season against ULM, had surgery on his pectoral and is expected to be out for the rest of the season. Look for Khari Lane to step up.

Allen Persevering: New Mexico State's Andrew Allen (QB) has played through adversity during the three-game win streak. He was injured during the victory against the Vandals and missed all action versus Texas State. Then Allen's father passed away, and he managed to arrive from the memorial service just in time to help beat Louisiana. Credit the sophomore signal caller (who's listed as a wide receiver on for his toughness and courage.

Flash Drive: A-State's Michael Gordon is just 168 yards from collecting a 1,000 yard season. Part of a four-headed ground attack that ranks third in the Sun Belt, "Flash" has been a work horse for the Red Wolves averaging more than six yards per carry. New Mexico's rush defense ranks 120th in the nation and surrenders 260.7 YPG. Look for Gordon to reach the 1,000 yard milestone on Saturday.

Aggies Can't Be Taken Lightly: Despite the Aggies' 3-7 record, Coach Blake Anderson isn't looking past New Mexico State.

A hot team is a dangerous team, no matter what the record. Arkansas State is playing for a conference championship and a cherry bowl selection. New Mexico State is playing for something just as important: self respect.

Red Wolves Have Already Won: Once a week, the sports editor of the Arkansas' only statewide paper, The Arkansas Democrat Gazette, posts his predictions for college football games. Wally Hall was nice enough to predict victory for the Red Wolves.

One problem, though. He made the prediction last week, during A-State's bye. We're assuming Wally is sticking with this forecast, though.

Official Prediction, Yo!

NM State

UT-Arlington hoops defeated Ohio St. and Memphis this year. What?