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Louisiana at New Mexico State: Previewing the Cajuns and Aggies

Can the Cajuns keep pace in the Sun Belt race?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

WHO: Louisiana (5-3) at New Mexico State (2-7)

WHEN: Saturday, November 8, 7pm

WHERE: Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, NM

WEATHER: 66°/41° 0% rain

LINE: -16 UL (opened -14.5)

Louisiana will put its four game winning streak, on the line, Saturday when the Cajuns face the Aggies of New Mexico State. The Aggies will welcome the Cajuns to Las Cruces as they celebrate Homecoming, it will be Louisiana's first visit to Aggie Memorial Stadium since 2004. Louisiana leads the all-time series 5-3, but the Cajuns are winless (0-2) when playing in Las Cruces. Last week Louisiana defeated South Alabama 19-9 while New Mexico State fell to Texas State 37-29. Now let's take a look at what to expect once the Cajuns and Aggies kickoff Saturday.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

NEW MEXICO STATE:

  • Tyler Rogers, SO QB: The first year starter has had an up and down season for the Aggies. Rogers has completed 63% of his passes, averages 239.3 yards per game passing, and has tossed 14 touchdowns. The transfer from Western Arizona has also thrown a league high, 17 interceptions, and was benched in favor of freshman Andrew Allen, for the Idaho game. Rogers has since been renamed the Aggie starter.
  • Teldrick Morgan, SO WR: The explosive playmaker is the Aggies main target in the passing game. Morgan has 63 catches, more than double the receptions than of any other Aggie. He has scored six times and has amassed 1122 all-purpose yards.
  • Aggie Offensive Line: Led by center Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, the unit has only given up 4 sacks all season. The group has also tallied over 80 knockdowns in 9 games.
  • Kalei Auelua, SO DT: The Hawaii native will be a focal point, of the Aggie plan to stop the Cajun rushing attack. The sophomore has 31 stops on the year, 1.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble.
  • Rodney Butler, SO LB and Derek Ibekwe, FR LB: Butler and Ibekwe have been animals in the middle for New Mexico State this season. Rodney Bulter has recorded 103 tackles to go along with Derek Ibekwe's 83 stops. They rank second and fifth in the Sun Belt Conference. Butler also has one interception on the season, a 40 yard pick six against Georgia State.
  • Winston Rose, SR DB: The senior from Inglewood, CA leads the Aggies with four interceptions and has recorded 29 tackles.

LOUISIANA:

  • Devin Scott, SO WR: The sophomore from Harvey, LA has started to emerge as the Cajuns deep threat. While only having four receptions on the season, Scott has been targeted more and more by Terrance Broadway. Last week Scott hauled in a 45 yard reception that set up a Cajun score. Louisiana is still looking for a receiver to step up and fill in for the injured Jamal Robinson, and Scott appears to be the leading candidate.
  • Elijah McGuire, SO RB: Pick your poison, how would you like Elijah to beat you...like this or like that?
  • Chirstian Ringo, SR DL: Entering the season we expect the defensive line to be the strongest part of the Cajun defense. Ringo has not disappointed. The Jackson, MS native leads the team with 8 sacks, he has also added 28 tackles, 14 TFL and two fumble recoveries.
  • Louisiana Secondary: The Cajun secondary will be tested again this week as New Mexico State does most of its damage through the air. Louisiana has taken somewhat of a revolving door approach to the defensive backfield this season and the Cajuns are still searching for the right combination. Corey Trim, Sean Thomas, Trevence Patt, Travis Crawford and Tracy Walker will need to figure out some way to limit the Aggie passing attack.

NEW MEXICO STATE MUST:

If the Aggies want to pull off the upset Saturday first and foremost they must protect the football. The Cajuns are -7 on the year but have not had the same volume of turnovers that the Aggies have had. New Mexico State currently sits at -9 in turnover margin with QB Tyler Rogers having thrown 17 interceptions alone. Last year the Aggies built a 28-7 lead over the Cajuns but ultimately Louisiana was able to score 35 straight points and cruise to 49-35 win. New Mexico State was able to jump on Louisiana using big pass plays down the field, if New Mexico State is able to do the same thing the Aggies will be able to keep the homecoming crowd in the game and possibly pull off the upset.

On defense it is simple, find a way to stop the run. The Aggie defense must slow down the potent Cajun rushing attack. New Mexico State enters the game allowing an eye gouging 326.2 rushing yards per contest, for the Aggies to win they must slow down Elijah McGuire and company.

LOUISIANA MUST:

The most important thing the Cajuns must do is RESPECT their opponent. While the Aggies are only 2-7, they've played much better at home. Last season the Aggies were up big on the Cajuns and the Cajuns need to remember that if you let any team hang around long enough, especially at home, anything can happen. On offense Louisiana must run the ball, run the ball and run the ball some more.  The Aggie defense has struggled all season stopping the run and Saturday should be no different. It would also be nice to see some receivers step up and make a play or two, with NMSU focused on slowing down the run there will be chances to make big plays in the passing game.

Defensively Louisiana will need to pressure the quarterback. The Aggie offensive line has only allowed four sacks all season but pressure could force turnover happy Tyler Rogers to throw a few passes to the Cajuns rather than his teammates.  The Cajun secondary will be tested, as it has been all season. Louisiana must keep everything in front of them and force the Aggies to drive the field in order to score.

PREDICTION:

The Cajuns have never beaten New Mexico State away from Cajun Field but that will change Saturday. Louisiana is simply the better team but the Aggies will make them prove it, even at 2-7 New Mexico State will not roll over and play dead. I believe New Mexico State will be able to keep it close for the first half, but ultimately Louisiana will wear down the Aggies and take home a 38-17 victory.