New Mexico State-ULM
Start Time: 3:00 PM EST, Saturday, December 5
Location: Malone Stadium, Monroe, Louisiana
Records: NMSU: 3-8 ULM: 1-11. New Mexico State leads the overall series 3-1.
Live Stats: here.
Line: Even. Over/Under: 59.
New Mexico State:
It took the Aggies a bit longer than expected this season to realize that their best chance at winning is to ride the legs of sophomore running back Larry Rose III. The under-recruited back out of Fairfield, Texas is rewriting all of the record books at NMSU with 1,587 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns this fall.
Rose is on a five game streak of 100+ yard games in which he is averaging 179.2 yards per game. He currently sits at eighth overall in total rushing yards with a higher yards per carry average than everyone ahead of him except Dalvin Cook.
Since the loss of Tyler Rogers earlier in the season, the combination of Andrew Allen and Nick Jeanty has led the way for the Aggies in the passing game. It has not always been the smoothest transition for the duo, but they have been able to threaten defenses with the long ball.
Wide receivers Teldrick Morgan and Tyrain Taylor are the top targets and have been able to play well, but not quite at the level hoped for heading into the season. Jordan Bergstrom and Gregory Hogan give depth to a receiver corps that can only do so much when only 52.1% of all passes on the season are completed.
Take a look at this chart and focus on all of the numbers on the defensive side. They are not good at all.
Teams are rushing for nearly six yards per carry versus the Aggies defense and a ridiculous 258.6 yards per game. Basically, when you face NMSU you become one of the best rushing team in the nation. It will be interesting to see if ULM takes advantage of that opportunity. The Aggies pass defense is not much better in giving up nearly 290 yards per game in the air.
Players to watch on the NMSU defense include: Derek Ibekwe, Terrill Hanks, and Jacob Nwangwa.
The Warhawks have been one of the worst offensive teams in the nation, especially in the run game. How bad you ask? Take a look at this and judge for yourself.
ULM is running the football at a 3.3 yards per carry average for a miniscule 106.2 yards per game. The only patch of brightness in the run game is the play of Ben Luckett. The redshirt freshman has rushed for a team-leading 475 yards on 78 carries for a 6.1 yards per carry average. He has been impressive despite receiving carries quite sporadically throughout the season.
At this rate, the Warhawks are running out of warm bodies at the quarterback position. Garrett Smith and Brayle Brown are out with injuries, leaving the passing game in the care of Earnest Carrington. The senior has done the best he can out there, but there is a reason he didn't see any significant playing time until all other options at quarterback were exhausted.
When passing the ball, Marcus Green and Ajalen Holley are the two best options at wide receiver. The duo has combined for 117 catches and just over 1,300 yards receiving this season. The problem is the fact that Rashon Ceaser is still the team's third leading receiver. He has only played in five of the 12 games this season. The Warhawks desperately need someone to step up as a third receiving option to give Carrington some help.
Teams that face the Warhawks have given up and pretense of being balanced on offense. They just run and run and run some more versus a ULM defense that is giving up 4.5 yards per carry and 217.9 yards per game on the ground. This is just how often teams run the ball versus the ULM defense.
As bad as the rush defense is (#113 nationally), there are three teams in the Sun Belt that are worse. The passing defense is only giving up 207 yards per game, but is only facing 25 pass attempts per game.
Players to watch on the ULM defense include: Hunter Kissinger, Gerrand Johnson, and Michael Johnson.
On paper, it would seem that this is a matchup of two teams heading in the same direction: downward. In reality, the Aggies have two things going for them that ULM does not have... Larry Rose and hope. There is hope that this team is on the rise after starting the season 0-7 and they can end the season with four wins in five games to get to 4-8 on the year. ULM has basically nothing in their favor. NMSU 45, ULM 34.