New Mexico State-Louisiana
Start Time: 5:00 PM EST, Saturday, November 21
Location: Cajun Field, Lafayette, Louisiana
Records: NMSU: 2-7. Louisiana: 4-5. Louisiana leads the overall series 6-3.
Live Stats: here.
Line: Louisiana -17. Over/Under 64.
New Mexico State Outlook: In surprising fashion, the Aggies head into this game on a two-game winning streak that moved them to 2-7 on the season.
The name of the game on offense for the Aggies is get the ball to Larry Rose III. The Sophomore is destroying school records with 1,290 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns in nine games this season. He is one of the biggest stories of the Sun Belt, dominating play with a 7.5 yards per carry average and two straight 200+ yard games.
Due almost entirely to his excellent play, the Aggies have the #3 ranked rushing IsoPPP, the #12 rushing S&P+, and the #33 success rate in the nation. Overall, Rose is accountable for 74.6% of NMSU's rushing yards on the season.
After a season ending injury to quarterback Tyler Rogers, the Aggies have been forced to go with a combination of Andrew Allen and Nick Jeanty. Jeanty looked very good in a dominant win over Texas State with 297 yards passing and two touchdowns. Expect to see him again versus Louisiana with Allen not expected to play.
Any combination of receivers Jordan Bergstrom, Tyrain Taylor, Teldrick Morgan, and Joshua Bowen could show up for the Aggies in the passing game. Rose is also active in the passing game with 276 yards receiving on 24 catches this fall.
Too bad the Aggies have to play defense as well. NMSU is giving up an astounding 542.7 yards per game of total offense on the season. That breaks down to 268.6 yards on the ground and 274.1 yards per game in the air. Teams can literally pick any way they feel like moving the ball versus the Aggies defense.
Players to watch on the NMSU defense include: Derek Ibekwe, Terrill Hanks, and Jacon Nwangwa.
Louisiana Outlook: Another week and another poor performance leave the Ragin' Cajuns closer and closer to staying home for the holidays.
It has been sad to watch one of the better rushing attacks in the nation slowly fade away. The Cajuns are still #30 nationally in rushing success rate, but have fallen to #93 in IsoPPP and #54 in rushing S&P+. Elijah McGuire has not been himself this season and it has come out this week that he has played through injuries this season. Even so, he is still on pace for a 1,000 yard season and 4.8 yards per carry.
Backing McGuire up is senior Torrey Pierce. The senior has gotten more and more action with the plethora of nagging injuries to McGuire. Quarterback Jalen Nixon is another solid ball carrier, but tends to mess up the offensive flow when inserted mid-drive at quarterback.
Junior quarterback Brooks Haack has been able to make the Cajuns passing game more effective with nearly 1,000 yards passing on the season. He has accomplished that despite seeing limited action earlier in the season with Nixon at quarterback.
Haack has found a connection with senior receiver Jamal Robinson. The 6-4 receiver has 33 a team-leading 558 yards receiving on the season. Al Riles, Gabe Fuselier, and Gary Haynes have been able to give the Cajuns three pass catching options at wide receiver. McGuire has also added 28 catches on the season.
It is hard to believe that the Cajuns were one of the best rush defenses in the nation in 2014. They are terrible this fall with the #103 ranked defensive rushing S&P+. Teams average 4.4 yards per carry and have found the end zone 14 times versus the Cajuns. The pass defense has been effective when successful, but they are terrible when giving up completions. Only five teams have a worse defensive passing IsoPPP than Louisiana.
Players to watch on the Louisiana defense include: Dominique Tovell, Otha Peters, and Savion Brown.
Prediction: Talk about two teams in different directions. The Ragin' Cajuns are at 4-5 on the season an need this win to put them on pace for a bowl berth. New Mexico State has looked very good when giving the ball to Rose and have two straight wins. Even with the much improved play by the Aggies, I have to take the Cajuns. Louisiana 31, NMSU 27.