It’s here Aggie fans! The NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl is finally near and the streak will officially be broken tomorrow! Before we get into the Q & A, I just wanted to give everyone some information on the game.
Date: Friday, December 29, 2017
Location: Arizona Stadium (A.K.A. Aggie Memorial West), Tucson, Arizona
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. MT
Series Meeting: Utah State holds a 30-7 lead in the series with the last game being a 41-7 win in 2012.
Line: Utah State -4
FOLLOW IT LIVE | If you can't make it to Tucson for the @novaAZBOWL make sure to #FollowItLive as we continue #MakingHistory. #AggieUp pic.twitter.com/Dh1wFEOPk1— NM State Football (@NMStateFootball) December 22, 2017
Now, to get you even more prepared for the game, I sat down with Jeremy Mauss of Mountain West Wire to preview New Mexico State’s opponent, Utah State. Here’s what he had to say:
- In a nutshell, what has the Utah State Aggies season been like?
Jeremy: It has been an up and down season for the Aggies as they played two quarterbacks in Jordan Love and Kent Myers. In the latter third of the season it was Love who was the guy but the results were not all that better. This team has both won and lost games by multiple touchdowns. Their defense is in the same boat as being good and not so good. To be honest I have no clue of what Utah State team will show up.
2. Is the Utah State offense centered more on passing or rushing? Who does the offense revolve around?
Jeremy: They want to be a passing team as they brought in David Yoast to run an Oregon-esque type offense that Chip Kelly used to run with a lot of passing in a wide set, up tempo but also enough running to keep a defense honest. Based on the wide ranging results it has been hit or miss because of the quarterback play. The running game has also been inconsistent with Eltoro Allen and LaJuan Hunt each getting turns as the lead back. Hunt has emerged as the back after midseason with three of his prior five games he has rushed for over 100 yards and has 10 touchdowns. Utah State is best when the running game finds consistency. The four times that Utah State had a leading rusher go for over 100 yards they are undefeated.
3. Who are the biggest playmakers on the defensive side of the ball? What players should the NMSU Aggies watch out for?
Jeremy: It all starts with cornerback Jalen Davis who ended up earning multiple All-American honors and first-team all-Mountain West. This came after not even earning preseason all-Mountain West honors. His big game was against rival BYU where he had three picks and two touchdowns in that game. He had five picks overall, 13 pass break ups and was used in the pass rush with five tackles for loss. The main player in the front seven is junior linebacker Suli Tamaivena who had 109 tackles in his first year of FBS football. However, overall the defense is much like the offense and shows up some games and sometimes it doesn't.
4. What do the Utah State Aggies need to do to win the bowl game?
Jeremy: As mentioned prior they need to run the ball well and ideally they would get 100 yards from LaJuan Hunt as that has been a proven record for wins this year. I think it starts there because that will clearly help the passing game not have to throw over 30 times per game. The defense needs to not get in a big hole as they did a few times this year and the offense has shown just one time this year that they can come from behind a large deficit and win, and that came from the UNLV win where they overcame a 21-point first half deficit to win. It really comes down to the offense making plays because for how good Jalen Davis is on defense odds of him returning an interception again for a score is slim.
5. On a scale of 1-5, how much does this game mean to Utah State’s program moving forward?
Jeremy: I'll go with a strong four. Last year, Matt Wells was on the hot seat for a missing a bowl game and losing multiple one score games. While this year getting back to a bowl game at 6-6 is a step in the right direction, this season has proved to be overly frustrating with the play of this team. No one is sure what team will walk on the field on a given day. I don't think a loss would mean Wells gets a pink slip but I would not be surprised if that were the case.
6. What is your prediction for the game?
Jeremy: I think this will be a back and forth game as these teams seem fairly even and I have a hard time seeing either team blowing out the other based on what the two have done this year. The key difference for Utah State's rushing game and DB Jalen Davis.
Utah State 30, New Mexico State 27
There you have it folks. NMSU’s opponent for tomorrow wrapped up in one nice Q & A! I’d like to thank Jeremy Mauss for putting those answers together for me and for writing another article preview the Red Aggies!
For those of you going to the game, make sure to check out the bowl’s official website for all the activities going on and the stadium guidelines and procedures. We’ll see you there!
P.S. NMSU won all the pre-bowl game competitions yesterday. Not to brag or anything.
That feeling when you & the squad are heading to Tucson for the @novaAZBOWL! #BowlBound #AggieUp #MakingHistory @elev8yourgame pic.twitter.com/SiiKgVOih8— NM State Football (@NMStateFootball) December 26, 2017