Georgia Southern (3-2) at New Mexico State (2-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 4, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Aggie Memorial Stadium (30,343) -- Las Cruces, New Mexico. Television: AggieVision, ESPN3.com. Home Record: Georgia Southern 2-0, NMSU 1-1. Away Record: Georgia Southern 1-2, NMSU 1-2. Neutral Record: Georgia Southern 0-0, NMSU 0-0. Conference Record: Georgia Southern 2-0, NMSU 1-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Sun Belt Conference newcomers will square off at Aggie Memorial Stadium on Saturday night, as the New Mexico State Aggies play host to the Georgia Southern Eagles.
Georgia Southern has gotten its first season in the Sun Belt off to a great start, opening up 2-0 in the league with a win at South Alabama (28-6) and a triumph versus Appalachian State last Thursday (34-14). The Eagles are now 3-2 overall with their two losses coming in hard-fought road games against strong Atlantic Coast Conference squads NC State (24-23) and Georgia Tech (42-38).
NMSU got off to a quick 2-0 start this season, which included a victory in its only Sun Belt matchup on Sept. 6 at Georgia State, 34-31, but since then it has fallen below .500 with three straight losses. The Aggies had brutal non- conference task last week in traveling to Baton Rouge to play nationally- ranked LSU, losing 63-7.
These newly-formed conference rivals have never before squared off on the football field.
The Eagles' outstanding offense (41.2 ppg) exists thanks mostly to the nation's top rushing attack, which racks up a staggering 367.2 ypg. The unit was in full swing in its most recent game with 408 rushing yards versus Appalachian State.
Quarterback Kevin Ellison operates the triple-option offense and has tallied 478 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, with 151 of those yards coming last week. He's also been solid in limited passing attempts, going 30-of-49 for 573 yards, four touchdowns and two picks.
Matt Breida gets the majority of the tailback work and has made the most of his 62 carries, rushing for 580 yards (9.4 ypc) and eight touchdowns.
Kentrellis Showers (225 yards, three TDs) only has eight receptions but most of those have resulted in huge plays. BJ Johnson (12 receptions, 198 yards, two TDs) and Zach Walker (14 receptions, 193 yards) round out the receiving corps.
The well-rounded Georgia Southern squad also boasts a very good defense, allowing just 19.0 ppg and 384.2 ypg while creating eight takeaways.
Antwione Williams (3.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) and Edwin Jackson (TFL, INT) share the team lead with 31 tackles apiece. Jay Ellison (3.5 TFL, 2.0 sacks), Jonathan Battle (3.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks) and Ryan George (3.5 sacks) anchor a strong pass- rush.
NMSU was stuffed by a stout LSU defense last week, as it put up a mere 274 yards. Despite that poor showing, the offense has been solid this year in putting up 25.6 ppg and 401.8 ypg.
Tyler Rogers has been up-and-down under center. On the positive side of things, he's throwing for nearly 230 yards per game and has accounted for 11 touchdowns, but conversely he's completing just 58.7 percent of his passes and has tossed eight interceptions.
Rogers has built an excellent rapport with Teldrick Morgan, who ranks 10th in the nation in receiving yards (508), tied for seventh in receptions (36) and has scored four touchdowns.
Larry Rose III (269 yards, TD), Brandon Betancourt (201 yards) and Xavier Hall (179 yards, three TDs) share the load in the backfield-by-committee but none average more than 4.8 yards per carry. Rose is listed as questionable with a knee injury.
The Aggies' downfall this season has come due to their poor play on the defensive side of the ball. They allow 36.8 ppg (eighth in the Sun Belt) and 450.6 ypg, although they have forced 12 turnovers in five games.
Derek Ibekwe (52 tackles), Rodney Butler (52 tackles, INT) and Kawe Johnson (51 tackles, INT, three FF) have all racked up the stops for the Aggies.
Although NMSU holds the homefield advantage, it likely won't matter much if its defense can't get off the field, as its porous rushing defense (312.0 ypg) going up against Georgia Southern's elite ground game is a recipe for disaster.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Southern 44, New Mexico State 27
10/01 10:58:57 ET