Start Time: 3:00 PM CST
Location: Bobcat Stadium, San Marcos, Texas
TV: Time Warner Cable SportsChannel (Austin-San Antonio corridor)
Streaming: ESPN3, unless, in Time Warner's infinite wisdom, you're in the blackout area that nobody knew about until the South Alabama game kicked off.
Records: TXST 2-5 (1-2), New Mexico State 1-7 (1-3)
Live Stats: Here
Line: TXST -17, O/U 72.
A -17 line for this game, given NMSU's close misses and Texas State's disappointing performances this season? I rarely accuse Vegas of being drunk, but...
Texas State Bobcats outlook:
At this point, Bobcat fans know the makeup of this team. Tyler Jones (64 carries-525 yards-6 rush TD-8.2 YPC) and Robert Lowe (108 carries-629 yards-6 TD-5.8 YPC) scrambling around on reads is the entire offense. The passing game's stuck in neutral as injuries to guard and center have completely thrown Jones out of his rhythm. Nobody at wide receiver fights for a 50/50 ball, they can't adjust to TJ's throws that sail behind them, and they drop passes thrown right to them.
The defense, now led by some nastiness brought to the table by secondary standouts Aaron Shaw and Damani Alexcee, has looked slightly better since John Thompson resigned, but as a unit they're still completely overmatched against most FBS competition.
So let's take a look at some things you might not know about this team, especially if you haven't been paying attention lately.
Punter Lumi Kaba may well be Texas State's MVP this season. He's averaging 43.8 yards per punt, good for 28th in the country. He also downs 1 out of every 4 punts inside the opponent's 20, so he's doing his damndest to keep Texas State afloat in the field position battle.
Your eyes didn't deceive you: Texas State is officially a 2nd quarter team. The offense almost always kicks it into gear after the first 15, and even the defense often stiffens up before halftime.
Unfortunately, those 2nd quarter performances usually come right after a flat start to the 1st quarter. And yep, third quarter performances are still as bad as ever (although you already knew that).
Did you know? New Mexico State and Texas State are 126th and 127th in defensive havoc generated, respectively, which means they're about as passive as a person coasting on Novacane after getting their wisdom teeth out.
The good news for the 'Cats is that NMSU's defense is possibly even worse than Texas State's, so those 2 yard dump-offs on 3rd and 14 might actually work this week.
New Mexico State Aggies outlook:
Larry Rose III (140 carries-1083 yards-10 TD-7.7 YPC) is a delight of a running back to watch, and he's going to want to tear up Texas State for a second straight season after torching the Bobcats for 226 total yards and a touchdown last year in Las Cruces. Oh, and aside from the usual motivation to win a conference game, this matchup is personal for him. Why's that?
Larry Rose III already plays with a chip on his shoulder. He told me Texas State did offer him. As a cornerback— Jason Groves (@JPGroves) November 5, 2015
In Texas State's defense, they looked to be completely loaded at running back already for the 2014 class, but...yikes. That's almost as big of a whiff as Mack Brown thinking RG3 should play defense. Needless to say, Rose is going to want his pound of flesh, and against a pitiful defense now sans NFL players Craig Mager and David Mayo, he's going to get it. He also doesn't turn the ball over, as he's only had one fumble the entire season. Not a good sign for a Bobcat defense whose only real bright spot has been occasionally forcing a timely fumble or two.
The sophomore could easily run for 300 yards alone on Texas State, but what about the rest of the offense?
NMSU once had a powerful passing attack, but then their starting quarterback Tyler Rogers and one of their best receivers in Teldrick Morgan were injured. Then backup Andrew Allen, who helped lead the comeback overtime win over Idaho, also got injured. Third stringer freshman Nick Jeanty is now in charge of the offense, and...well, here's the comparison between him and Rogers.
Not great. NMSU still has an explosive option at receiver in junior Tyrain Taylor and senior Joshua Bowen came out of nowhere to put up a 100+ yard performance on the Vandals, so it's not as if the cupboard is completely bare.
Jeanty having a breakout passing performance certainly isn't out of the question against Texas State's passive defense. Yet his high sack rate suggests that this game may be the best opportunity the Bobcats have had all season to force an errant throw via pressure and pick up their first interception.
As for NMSU's defense, the only thing they do better than Texas State's defense is defending 3rd down plays. Bet your hip replacement on the over.
POINTS. LOTS OF POINTS. Unless it rains hard, in which case, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I still have no idea how to feel about the outcome of this game. Back in August, this seemed like a comfortable 3+ touchdown win for Texas State. Now? I'm combing through advanced stats to try and find whether one team has any sort of definitive advantage over the other team. And in a way, that's as telling of a statement for the Bobcats' 2015 campaign as any.
Since it's a home game, let's say the relatively improved Bobcat defense makes a few stops and forces a fumble or two, and NMSU's defense is too putrid to put Texas State in many 3rd and long situations for Franchione and Schulz to screw up.
Texas State wins, 49-45. And by god, they'd better win, or I'm going to be yelling this at the facade of Bobcat Stadium come around 7 PM central time on Saturday.