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San Diego State Aztecs vs. New Mexico Lobos Prediction and Preview

San Diego State Aztecs vs. New Mexico Lobos Prediction and Preview

San Diego State Aztecs vs. New Mexico Lobos Prediction and Preview

It’s a redemption week for the San Diego State Aztecs (6-2, 3-1) and New Mexico Lobos (3-5, 1-3) as both teams are looking to get back on the winning track on Saturday night in Albuquerque at Dreamstyle Stadium.

San Diego State is coming off a tough 28-24 loss to a surging Nevada team last Saturday night in Reno. The Aztecs started fast as they sprinted out to a 14-0 lead but just couldn’t finish drives in the second half as they were shutout by the Wolfpack. Quarterback Ryan Agnew did a nice job in the passing game as threw for 283 yards and three touchdown passes. Chase Jasmin and Chance Bell combined for 163 yards on 31 carries and one touchdown. Defensively, when you hold a team under 300 yards in the Mountain West you should win nine out of 10 times, but Nevada made the most of its scoring opportunities when it counted.

New Mexico ran into a buzzsaw up in Logan as Utah State dominated the Lobos 61-19 on Saturday afternoon. Jordan Love and the Aggies were just at another level of speed against the Lobos as Utah State scored 52 points in the first half and racked up 704 yards of total offense. Nothing really worked offensively for New Mexico as Sheriron Jones and Colton Gerhart combined to throw four interceptions. Tyrone Owens led the rushing attack with 38 yards on 12 carries. The Lobos have lost their last two conference games by a combined score of 99-26 and road to bowl eligibility is an extremely uphill climb. Also, the lack of competitiveness over the last two weeks must make you wonder if head coach Bob Davie’s seat is getting scalding hot. New Mexico has not been expected to be an elite program in the Mountain West Conference, but it should at least be competitive on an annual basis.

San Diego state leads the all-time series between these clubs 26-15, including a 3-10 win last November in San Diego.

San Diego State at New Mexico

Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 3 at 10:15 p.m. ET

TV: ESPNU

Spread: Aztecs -10.5

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Three Things to Watch

1. San Diego State offense

The Aztecs will need to start fast against the Lobos as one thing that continues to hurt San Diego State is keeping inferior opponents in games. Christian Chapman returns this week and will share time at quarterback with Agnew, and it will be interesting to see how quickly he gets back in rhythm this week. Juwan Washington and Isaac Lessard could potentially return this week. If Washington plays you can expect the Aztecs put the game in the hands of their offensive line to establish the run, which will then set up big plays in the passing game. Fred Trevillion and Kahale Warming should have plenty of opportunities to exploit the New Mexico secondary early and often.

2. Lobos offense vs. San Diego State defense

It’s been a roller coaster ride all year long for the New Mexico offense as they have been good against bad teams but have struggled to move the ball against quality competition. Owens will need to get his touches on the ground early on and even if Owens doesn’t gain a lot of yards they need to keep feeding him the ball. The ability to run the ball and move the chains will keep the Aztecs offense off the field and keep the game from getting out of hand early. Also, ball security is going to be a factor for the Lobos as they can ill afford to turn the ball over early and give the San Diego State offense a short field. On defense, the Aztecs need to get New Mexico off schedule and get them in long yardage passing situations. Linebacker Kyahva Tezino leads the San Diego State defense in tackles, tackles for a loss and sacks. If Tezino can get pressure on Gerhart and get him off his spot throwing the ball, then that will really put the Aztecs in a great position to win going away.

3. Rocky Long vs. Bob Davie

This is a clear advantage for San Diego State as coach Long will have the Aztecs ready to play and not feeling sorry for themselves after losing to Nevada. San Diego State has shown itself to be a team that can finish strong down the stretch. The Aztecs are usually pretty good at covering the spread against less talented teams on the road, and that is why the opening quarter is going to be important on Saturday night. If San Diego State can strike fast and get a couple of early scores it swings the pressure right over to New Mexico and Davie. Bottom line, the Lobos program is in an interesting spot with Davie. There is not a ton of buzz around the program, and there is plenty of pressure on New Mexico to turn its football fortunes around as the athletic department had to cut four sports over the summer due to budget deficit issues. Davie will have a heck of a challenge this week to get his team ready to go and trying to get his guys to compete for 60 minutes. A fast start will be very beneficial for the Lobos even if all they do keep the game tied or within one score it will keep the crowd involved.

Final Analysis

The Aztecs are 18-7-1 against the spread during their last 26 games in the month of November. So, look for San Diego State to put this game away early and methodically wear down New Mexico in the second half with fundamentally sound football in all three phases of the game. For the Lobos, they will get some production from Gerhart at quarterback, but it won’t be enough as the Aztecs defense is going to create that critical game changing turnover early in the second half to put the game away.

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Prediction: San Diego State 34, New Mexico 16

— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ScottWhittum.