New Mexico (3-7) at (15) Fresno State (9-0)|
Saturday, November 23, 4 p.m. (et)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: One of six remaining undefeated teams in the Football Bowl
Subdivision, the 15th-ranked Fresno State Bulldogs try to keep hope alive for
a spot in the BCS as they host the New Mexico Lobos in Mountain West
Conference action this weekend.
The Bulldogs, all alone atop the West Division of the MWC standings with an
unblemished 6-0 mark, are coming off a bye week which followed a 48-10 romp
over Wyoming in Laramie on Nov. 9.
In the all-important BCS rankings, Fresno State settles in at No. 14 this
week, the highest placement of any program outside of the power conferences.
More importantly, the Bulldogs are still ahead of undefeated Northern Illinois
which is the only other squad that can disrupt the BCS.
As for the Lobos, they've been unable to produce a sustained effort from week
to week. Granted, the team has been putting up solid offensive numbers for the
most part, but last week it was crushed by Colorado State in the home finale,
66-42. The defeat was the fourth in the last five games for a Lobos group that
is 1-5 in league play and fifth in the Mountain Division standings.
FSU pounced on the Lobos last season, 49-32, which means the all-time series
now stands at 9-4 in favor of the Bulldogs.
The Lobos were lit up by Colorado State last week, more specifically, running
back Kapri Bibbs who blitzed the UNM defense for a staggering 291 yards and
six touchdowns on the ground. As a group, the Rams delivered 649 yards versus
a battered squad that just could not keep up.
"Defensively, I feel for our guys," said UNM head coach Bob Davie after the
game. "I appreciate the effort on defense. People may certainly have the right
to be cynical when I say that and they certainly can. I understand that, when
you give up 66 points and 600 yards."
The Lobos ran for 278 yards and three touchdowns, added another 249 yards and
two scores through the air and still lost the final home game of the season.
Cole Gautsche and Clayton Mitchem combined to convert 11-of-18 passes, the
former also being intercepted twice, as the Lobos took the loss. Crusoe
Gongbay responded with 12 carries for 98 yards and a score, but he and the
rest of the UNM ball carriers were no match for Bibbs, although UNM's Jacori
Greer wasn't ready to heap praise on the opposing running back.
"He was a strong guy. Good runner and physical. But to be honest it wasn't
him, it was his offensive line."
The problem now for the Lobos is not only to figure out how to bounce back
from such a tough loss, but how to move forward without Gautsche and running
back Kasey Carrier, both of whom are now listed as being out for the remainder
of the season due to concussion symptoms. Carrier was leading the team in
rushing with 1,122 yards and nine touchdowns and Gautsche was right behind him
with 777 yards and eight scores.
Stepping in for Gautsche will be Mitchem who has completed 54.4 percent of his
57 passes for 461 yards and just a single touchdown.
In addition to regrouping on offense, the Lobos also have to put together a
tight game plan to try and slow down Fresno State, which won't be easy
considering UNM is 117th in the nation with 39.9 ppg allowed.
With plenty of time to prepare for the meeting against New Mexico, you can be
sure that FSU quarterback Derek Carr is ready to put up epic stats yet again.
Named one of the five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Carr
currently ranks second nationally in both passing yards per game (380.1) and
touchdowns (32), and he has not thrown an interception in his last 229
Carr, who has thrown at least one TD pass in 29 straight games, the longest
active streak in the nation, will turn to Davante Adams as his preferred
target down the field. Adams leads the unit with 91 catches for 967 yards and
15 touchdowns, but when he's not available it is Josh Harper who fills the
void with 68 grabs for 823 yards and another nine TDs.
Not to be completely overshadowed by Carr, Adams was named one of 10
semifinalists for the 2013 Biletnikoff Award, recognizing the top receiver in
Seeing as how the Lobos are very weak at slowing down the run, this might be a
good time to get Josh Quezada and Marteze Waller into the action even more.
The pair has combined for more than 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Fresno State defense doesn't have any household names necessarily, but you
can count on Ejiro Ederaine having some sort of impact this weekend after
making 13 of his 40 tackles this season behind the line of scrimmage. Derron
Smith is not only third on the team with 50 stops, he is also tops with five
interceptions and tied for the lead with nine passes defended.
Because Carr is driving such a potent offense, it really hasn't hurt the
Bulldogs to be ranked 68th in the country in scoring defense, giving up 26.9
ppg, but that's a number that could improve significantly this weekend with so
many injuries afflicting key members of the UNM offense. Don't be surprised to
see a series of backups in the game for the Bulldogs in the second half once
the outcome has been determined.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fresno State 56, New Mexico 20
11/20 10:40:18 ET