Fresno State (5-3) at New Mexico (4-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 27, 3:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: University Stadium (39,224) -- Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Television: CSN-CA. Home Record: FSU 4-0, UNM 2-1. Away Record: FSU 1-3, UNM
2-3. Neutral Record: FSU 0-0, UNM 0-0. Conference Record: FSU 3-1, UNM 1-2.
Series Record: Fresno State leads, 8-4.
GAME NOTES: Having already surpassed their entire win total from last season,
the Fresno State Bulldogs now set their sights on earning the requisite number
of victories in order to become bowl eligible as they take on the New Mexico
Lobos in Mountain West Conference action this weekend.
In 2011, the Bulldogs won a total of just four games in the final season under
head coach Pat Hill. A change at the top of the coaching staff brought in Tim
DeRuyter and he's managed to guide this group to five wins in eight tries, not
to mention a 3-1 mark in the MWC. Last weekend, the Bulldogs throttled the
Wyoming Cowboys at home, 42-14, the team's third win in the last four outings.
Meanwhile, the Lobos have also taken some huge steps in the right direction
with their new head coach, Bob Davie. In each of the three previous seasons,
New Mexico had won a grand total of just one game and already the 2012 version
has four victories in eight opportunities so the change in coaching has paid
huge dividends in Albuquerque.
New Mexico was gunning for a rare three-game win streak last week when it
clashed with Air Force, but it simply wasn't meant to be as the Falcons took
down the Lobos in a 28-23 final which means UNM is now 1-2 in conference play
Fresno State owns an 8-4 edge in the all-time series, but the teams have not
met since 1998 when the Bulldogs put up a 28-20 win over UNM.
The Bulldogs put all the pieces together last week as they crushed Wyoming at
home, with quarterback Derek Carr converting 32-of-48 passes for 268 yards and
three touchdowns. Davante Adams recorded a game-high 11 receptions for 86
yards and one score which helped to overcome the fact that running back Robbie
Rouse was limited to just 91 yards on 20 attempts. For anyone else that might
sound like a fulfilling night, but four FSU's all-time leading rusher it was
one of his weakest efforts of the campaign.
Rouse, who started 2012 with four straight 100-yard efforts, has now failed to
reach that mark in three of the last four games and he has been held out of
the end zone in each of the last three contests which is rather unusual given
that he has eight TDs in the first five games of the season.
Carr, who will always be playing in the shadow of older brother David, now has
22 passing touchdowns on the season and just four interceptions. The
gunslinger has certainly shown more poise in the pocket this year and needs
just four more TDs to match his career high which he set in 2011.
Defensively, there are few teams in the country that can match what the
Bulldogs have accomplished thus far, setting a new MWC season mark with five
interception returns for touchdowns. Fresno State ranks second in the country
with 15 interceptions and much of the credit goes to Phillip Thomas who not
only leads the nation with seven picks, he has also returned three of those
for scores, one of them coming last week against the Cowboys.
Unfortunately for Thomas and the rest of his defensive teammates, trying to
come up with an interception this week will be extremely difficult given how
little the Lobos pass the ball. B.R. Holbrook and the rest of the Lobos have
attempted a total of just 95 passes over eight games and their average of 55.9
ypg through the air is by far the fewest in college football.
Instead of putting the ball in the air, the Lobos have redirected their
energies towards pounding away, time after time, in the trenches and hoping
someone can break through for big gains, which is exactly what happened last
week for Kasey Carrier even though the team still lost to Air Force.
Carrier was handed the ball 39 times and he responded by setting a school and
Mountain West record with a staggering 338 yards, leading to three touchdowns
which also tied him for the league high for the week. Now second in the league
and second in the nation in rushing, Carrier is averaging 138.3 ypg as the
Lobos place fifth in the country with 296.9 ypg on the ground.
However, the problem with running the ball so much is that the passing attack
has become no threat whatsoever and a good defense will make the Lobos pay for
such a deficiency.
The other knock on the Lobos right now is that they have trouble defending the
pass, to the point where they are 106th in the country with a pass efficiency
defense ranking of 147.22. As soon as Carr gets a look at that he and the
Bulldogs will be well on their way to planning another dominant performance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fresno State 41, New Mexico 24
10/24 10:43:08 ET
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