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New Mexico State vs. Ragin’ Cajuns Preview

The Aggies and the Ragin’ Cajuns sit at four wins with three remaining games on their respective schedules. This week will be pivotal in potential bowl bids for both teams.

NCAA Football: UL Lafayette at Mississippi Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Start Time: Saturday, November 18 at 3:00 (MT) or 5:00 (ET)

Location: Cajun Field, Lafayette, Louisiana

TV: ESPN3

Radio: 99.5 KXPZ or any of the other Aggie Radio Network Affiliates

Betting Line: New Mexico State is currently a four point favorite.

Series History: New Mexico State leads the series 5-4 and has a two game win streak in the series.


New Mexico State Outlook

After their second and final bye, NMSU looks to come out of the gates with another win against the Cajuns of Lafayette, Louisiana. This game is very important because the Aggies must win two of their last three to become bowl eligible and try to break the nation’s longest bowl drought.

Although getting to six wins doesn’t necessarily guarantee the Aggies a bowl spot (the Sun Belt only has five spots) it does make it very likely they will receive an invitation from a different bowl.

Leading the #journeytosix is QB Tyler Rogers and the entire NMSU receiving corps. Rogers leads the Sun Belt in completions per game (29.1), total offense (356.8), and passing yards (3,190), in addition to leading the team with seven rushing touchdowns.

New Mexico State v Arkansas
Tyler Rogers leads a potent Aggie offense into the swamp. Can he help pick up a fifth NMSU win?
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

It’s no wonder Rogers’ numbers are so impressive due to the amount of weapons at his disposal (he’s connected with eight different receivers for 40+ yard plays). One of those weapons, Jaleel Scott, has really improved this season and is NMSU’s biggest receiving option.

Currently leading the Sun Belt with eight receiving touchdowns and the team with 786 receving yards, Scott’s hard work helped him land an invite to the Senior Bowl in Alabama after the season.

On the other side of the ball, senior linebacker Dalton Herrington leads the defense and has consistently made plays all year. He currently leads the Sun Belt with 10.7 tackles per game and 1.6 tackles for loss per game. Expect to see him a lot on Saturday.

This is a super important game for both teams bowl chances. A win for NMSU would mean the most wins since for the program since 2004 and the most road wins (four) since 1965! LET’S GO AGGIES.

Ragin’ Cajun Outlook

The Ragin’ Cajuns are coming off of a shellacking at the hands of Ole Miss, giving up 50 points for the third time on the season. They have yet to find a consistent rhythm in any phase of the game, but still find themselves in a position to potentially land a bowl game. They sit at 4-5 and have three games remaining on their schedule.

What are the keys to a Cajun victory in this week’s contest against New Mexico State?

  1. Quarterback play: Step right up and get your tickets now, because the quarterback carousel continues to spin in Lafayette! We were lucky enough to see some energy injected into the offense courtesy of freshman Levi Lewis over the past couple of games, but he was yanked for Jordan Davis. There have been four signal-callers on the year thus far: Jordan Davis, Andre Nunez, Levi Lewis, and Dion Ray. If the Cajuns want to beat the Aggies this week, they need one of these players to stay in the game for all four quarters.
  2. Turnovers: This is one of those “of course” types of statistics, as in OF COURSE a team wants to win in the turnover department. What else do the Cajuns need to do, score more points than the Aggies to win? Cutting-edge sports analysis right here, try your best to keep up. But in all honesty, they won’t win without taking the ball away from Tyler Rogers and company a few times.
  3. Running game: New Mexico State is vulnerable on the ground, giving up 181.7 yards per game on the year. The Ragin’ Cajuns are not lacking skill in the ground game, as their running back corps has a couple of players that can run over you or run around you in Trey Ragas and Darius Hoggins. The offense will more likely than not feed off of the momentum of the run game, so if they can get moving early, expect the Cajuns to put up a fight for all four quarters in this one.

There is also a solid chance that weather plays a factor for this game, as it is expected to rain and possibly thunderstorm in Lafayette on Saturday. Weather games in November are always a fun experience, but they can cause problems in game-planning.

What does this mean for the Ragin’ Cajuns? All three of their keys to victory can be positively impacted. First of all, turnovers definitely increase in wet games. Secondly, the running game can be more effective due to a combination of the lack of ability to pass and increased running back elusiveness. If both of these things work in the Cajuns’ favor, the quarterback can simply manage the game and avoid mistakes rather than force plays down the field.

Prediction: Aggies 31, Ragin’ Cajuns 24