It may not be a close game but that doesn't mean it can't be an exciting one. Georgia Southern is hoping to set a new home attendance record on homecoming weekend against the Aggies of New Mexico State.
Start Time: 6 p.m. EST, Saturday, Oct. 17
Location: Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, Georgia
Records: Georgia Southern (4-1, 2-0 Sun Belt), NMSU (0-5, 0-1)
Betting Line: GSU -29, Over/Under of 64.5
NMSU Outlook: When ESPN writes an uber-long feature questioning why your program even exists, you know it's been a rough year. Make that a rough 50 years:
Not to be outdone, the Macon Telegraph has also written about New Mexico State's struggles. From them:
STATESBORO -- How bad is it going for the New Mexico State football team? Pretty bad.
The Aggies will be offered up as a sacrificial lamb for Georgia Southern's homecoming game on Saturday at Paulson Stadium. The Eagles are a 30-point favorite as they go for their 11th straight win in Sun Belt Conference play.
If you still aren't convinced, let's put it this way: They lost to Georgia State.
In all seriousness, there are some strong points to this year's New Mexico State team. The offense is averaging a respectable 24.8 points per game. Remove payday games against Ole Miss and Florida and that number jumps to 36 points per game.
Starting quarterback Tyler Rogers boasts seven touchdown passes against three interceptions with a 53 percent completion percentage. However, he is out of the game with a broken thumb.
There's a small sample size for his backups. Andrew Allen has completed 10 of 14 attempts, good for 71.4 percent, but with two interceptions against zero touchdowns. Nick Jeanty is 12 for 27 with 86 yards, one INT and no scores. Teldrick Morgan and Tyrain Taylor lead the receiving corps with five touchdowns and 605 yards combined.
The Aggies do sport a pretty hot running back. Larry Rose III is averaging 7.7 yards per carry with six touchdowns on 80 attempts and is second in the Sun Belt with 121 rushing yards per game. He's also caught 10 passes for 82 yards. With Rogers out, look for Rose to ramble even more than usual.
Defense is the real struggle for NMSU. The team is allowing 568.2 yards per game, with 273.8 coming on the ground. Defensive back Jaden Wright and linebacker Derek Ibekwe lead the way on that side of the ball with 42 tackles each.
Remember, NMSU led Georgia Southern 14-0 at one point last year and only lost 36-28. This year they fell to Georgia State by just two points, took UTEP to overtime and held a lead on New Mexico. It could be close... for a while.
Georgia Southern Outlook: Brighter than the new LED ribbon at Paulson.
Matt Breida leads the nation in yards per rush in spite of what a certain four-letter network wants you to believe. He's also tops in the Sun Belt with 147.6 yards per contest. Breida is ninth in the nation overall with 738 yards despite sharing the ball with LA Ramsby and Wesley Fields.
Forget all that though.No stat does justice to the sweet joy of watching Breida on the field.
Overall Georgia Southern leads the nation in rushing, just like last year, at 377.4 yards per contest. The passing game has been another story with Georgia Southern still lacking a touchdown through the air. It won't be needed for the homecoming game this weekend, but Willie Fritz continues mixing it in to try and diversify the offense and that should happen again Saturday.
The defense will likely give up a decent number of yards but don't be surprised to see at least two interceptions with the usual suspects of Matt Dobson, Ironhead Gallon and Antwione Williams most likely to pick off the pigskin.
Prediction: The Aggies hold the nation's longest losing streak at 15 straight games. It will become 16 on Saturday night.
The line should be interesting because Las Vegas is finally catching on. I wrote before the last two games that the spread was much too low and, sure enough, the Eagles easily covered (in fact, I had the over/under correct both times as well. Don't ever say I never did anything for you).
This go around the line opened at 26 and has only grown, reaching an absurd 29 points. That's not an easy call, mainly because no matter how lopsided the game is NMSU could creep back inside the number if Southern clears the bench. Stick with Southern but be cautious.
The over/under has fallen from 68 to 64.5 for some reason and is your best bet this week. These teams know how to score points and the Eagles could cover that by themselves if things get rolling right. See you at Paulson.