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Game Preview: Idaho Vandals vs. NMSU Aggies

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Can the Vandals get their first win of the season against the Aggies?

Stacy Revere

After winning their first two games of the season (against the mighty Cal-Poly and Fun Belt powerhouse Georgia State), New Mexico State will come into Moscow on Saturday riding a five-game losing streak. Idaho hasn't won a game all year, but they have at least shown some fight - they lost on a last-second touchdown run against ULM and kept it close against Texas State. Neither of these teams are any good, but at least this game will give us some clarity on the bottom of our Sun Belt power rankings.

Where: Moscow, Idaho (Kibbie Dome)

When: Saturday, 5pm ET (4pm CT)

TV: ESPN3

Line: Idaho -4.5 (opened -4), o/u 69

F/+ Rankings: Idaho: 113th, NMSU: 119th

What to watch for:

Both of these defenses are pitiful, so there should be a lot of points! The Aggies present a balanced offensive attack, with four players who average more than five carries a game, and sophomore QB Tyler Rogers leading the passing game. He has shown flashes this year, but tends to make some really poor decisions - the loss to Georgia Southern a few weeks ago highlighted both of those qualities. When Rogers throws, he'll be getting it to sophomore WR Teldrick Morgan. Averaging over 12 yards per catch and five touchdowns on the season, he's probably NMSU's most explosive athlete.

On the other side of the ball, this season has presented some growing pains for Vandals freshman QB Matt Linehan. He's pretty much been asked to shoulder the entire load for the Idaho offense, as the run game is averaging a pitiful 3.9 yards per carry after taking out Linehan's numbers (60 rushes for -103 yards, including sacks).

The Vandals defensive line might be able to disrupt the Aggies' attack. Quinton Bradley and Quayshawne Buckley combine to make a pretty formidable front line that can clog up running lanes (Buckley is over 300 pounds and has 5.5 TFL this season) and get pressure on Rogers (five sacks combined). The NMSU offensive line hasn't exactly dominated, so that matchup could end up being the key to the game.

Prediction:

When looking through the various stats and numbers for each team this week, one in particular stood out. New Mexico State has gotten a touchdown on 17 of their 22 trips into the red zone (77.3%). Idaho only gets to the endzone on 56% of their red zone drives. In what should be a high-scoring game, the ability to finish drives becomes even more important. The Aggies can score in multiple ways while the Vandals are too reliant on a freshman QB, so I'm going to take New Mexico State to win outright, 51-47.