Minnesota (1-0) at New Mexico State (0-1)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 7, 8:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Aggie Memorial Stadium (30,343) -- Las Cruces, New
Mexico. Television: None. Home Record: Minnesota 1-0, NMSU 0-0. Away Record:
Minnesota 0-0, NMSU 0-1. Neutral Record: Minnesota 0-0, NMSU 0-0. Conference
Record: Minnesota 0-0, NMSU 0-0. Series Record: New Mexico State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Two teams that had vastly different experiences in their season
openers last week will get together on Saturday, as the New Mexico State
Aggies host the Minnesota Golden Gophers in non-conference action.
New Mexico State, which went from winning its 2012 season opener against
Sacramento State (49-19) to dropping 11 straight decisions to close out last
year, was blown away in the kickoff to 2013 by nationally-ranked Texas in a
lopsided 56-7 final in Austin last Saturday. The slide for the Aggies is
second only to Southern Miss which, in addition to going winless all of last
season (12 games), it also fell to Texas State in this year's opener.
As for the Golden Gophers, they too were involved in a one-sided affair last
Thursday night, but in their case they were the ones getting the upper hand in
a 51-23 decision over UNLV at home. The victory for Minnesota not only snapped
a three-game slide dating back to last season, the scoring burst by the team
was their highest since posting a 63-26 romp over Indiana in November of 2006.
New Mexico State won the only previous meeting between these two programs two
years ago in a 28-21 final in Minneapolis.
Philip Nelson threw for one touchdown and ran for two more as the Golden
Gophers crushed the UNLV Rebels by four touchdowns in non-conference action at
TCF Bank Stadium last week. Nelson converted 10-of-22 passes for 99 yards and
was intercepted once, but also ran for a team-best 83 yards and two scores for
the Gophers as they defeated UNLV for the second time in as many seasons.
The Minnesota defense and special teams also got in on the scoring effort as
Briean Boddy-Calhoun returned an interception 89 yards for a touchdown in the
fourth quarter and Martez Shabazz brought back a blocked field goal 51 yards
for a score a period earlier.
In 2012, the Gophers needed three overtimes in order to take down UNLV by just
a field goal (30-27), but this time around many more pieces fell into place
for head coach Jerry Kill and his crew, even though the Rebels did generate a
healthy 419 yards of total offense.
Nelson is off to a solid start for the Gophers after appearing in the final
seven games of last season, accounting for just over 1,000 yards of total
offense in those outings. Nelson threw a total of five TDs in his first two
appearances against Wisconsin and Purdue, but then had just three more the
rest of the way and finished with just as many interceptions (eight) as aerial
The pass defense for the Gophers was a bit shaken up last week, considering
the team ranked fourth in the Big Ten Conference and 12th in the nation a year
ago with just 186.6 ypg allowed, so expect the team to get back to basics this
Pitted against a Texas squad that has something to prove, the Aggies were
easily dismissed by the Longhorns in the opener, the first game under new head
coach Doug Martin. The coach saw his charges actually take the lead following
a scoreless first quarter, thanks to an 11-yard TD pass from Andrew McDonald
to Joshua Bowen, but that was the extent of the good news for the Aggies in
McDonald finished the meeting 32-of-46 for 242 yards, was picked off once and
suffered a sack. McDonald also fumbled twice as the team found a way to get
blown out even while controlling the action for more than 36 minutes.
Outside of the first quarter, the defense for the Aggies did little to slow
down Texas as the hosts generated a whopping 715 yards of total offense,
averaging 9.9 yards per play during the rout. Last season NMSU gave up 432.2
ypg (88th nationally), which means the unit has a lot of work to do heading
into this weekend.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Aggies were able to record three takeaways in the
battle with Texas (two INTs and one fumble), a positive sign considering the
unit ranked 117th in the country with a turnover margin of minus-1.50 per game
a year ago.
The Gophers probably aren't as dominant a team as they showed against UNLV
last week, but there's a good chance that NMSU could be as bad as it showed
versus Texas, which means this meeting has the potential to be another runaway
event for Minnesota.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Minnesota 35, New Mexico State 20
09/04 10:37:34 ET