New Mexico State-Florida
Start Time: 7:00 P.M. ET, Saturday, Sept. 5
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Florida
TV: SEC Network
Streaming: Watch ESPN
Radio: New Mexico State: Aggie Sports Network Florida: Here.
Records: Florida 1, New Mexico State 0. Last meeting: 70-21 Florida in 1994.
Live Stats: Here.
Betting Line: Florida -37, Over/Under of 57.5
New Mexico State Outlook: It is hard to believe but New Mexico State actually has some quality talented spread throughout the program this fall led by the quarterback/running back duo of Tyler Rogers (268-436/2,779/19TD) and running back Larry Rose III (186/1,102/9TD). Standout wideout Teldrick Morgan (75/903/7TD) and Joshua Bowen (41/336/1TD) should give the Aggies very good targets for Rogers with a combined 116 catches last fall. The Aggies return four linemen that made 9+ starts last fall in Valerian Ume-Ezeoke, Isaiah Folasa-Lutui, Houston Clemente, and Thomas McGwire.
On the other side of the ball, New Mexico State struggled but saw several players made positive strides forward with defensive linemen Kalei Auelau (43 tkl) and Stody Bradley (23 tkl) holding down the line in the trenches. Linebackers Rodney Bulter (119 tkl) and Derek Ibekwe (102 tkl) both broke the 100 tackle mark in 2014 and should be able to supplement a defensive line that will need help versus a tough Florida offensive line. The Aggies return five defensive backs that started last fall as well as Dalton Herrington (85 tkl), a freshman that didn't make a start but is one of the top tacklers returning in 2015. Kawe Johnson (85 tkl) also broke the 80 tackle barrier giving New Mexico State four returning players with 80+ tackles.
Florida Outlook: The Gators were terrible on offense last fall which led to the dismissal of Will Muschamp and the hiring of Jim McElwain from Colorado State. Quarterback Will Grier should be the starter this fall after redshirting last season. Treon Harris is a quality backup that went 4-2 as a starter in 2014. Center Trip Thurman, sophomore left tackle David Sharpe, and top offensive lineman recruit Martez Ivey will be expected to shore up the Gators offensive line. Tailback Kelvin Taylor hopes to break out in his third season, while incoming freshman Jordan Scarlett should make an immediate impact. Only wide receiver Demarcus Robinson and tight end Jake McGee are very experienced from last season although the Gators have several athletes that could be turned into major pass catching options this fall.
Vernon Hargreaves III is the star of a talented Florida secondary and will have to be accounted for on every snap by opposing offenses. The front seven is not as talented as the secondary but have lots of experience including linebackers Antonio Morrison and Jarrad Davis, as well as defensive linemen Jon Bullard and Bryan Cox Jr., son of former NFL linebacker Bryan Cox.
Prediction: The Aggies are in a bit of a hole to start the season facing likely the best defense they will face all season. Florida is a bit of a mess on offense after the Muschamp era but have so many talented players on the defensive side of the ball that it will be very difficult for NMSU to move the ball. This game could be surprisingly close for a quarter before the Gators kick it to a higher gear and boat race the Aggies.