(24) Boise State (2-1) at New Mexico (2-2)|
Saturday, September 29, 6:00 p.m. (et)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: Having already matched their entire win total from the previous
two seasons combined, the New Mexico Lobos shoot for an unprecedented third
victory this weekend when they host the 24th-ranked Boise State Broncos in
Mountain West Conference action in Albuquerque.
Not since 2008 had the Lobos won more than a single game in a season, but the
team managed to change all that last Saturday when it took out in-state rival
New Mexico State in Las Cruces by a score of 27-14. The victory not only gave
UNM a split through the first four games of the season, it also served to snap
the nation's longest road losing streak at 24 games.
In 2009, 2010 and 2011 the Lobos finished a mere 1-11, so already the team has
gotten beyond that single win under the direction of new head coach Bob Davie,
Now the goal is to post back-to-back victories for the first time since the
middle of 2008 when the school posted a 35-24 decision over NMSU in late
September and followed that up with a 24-0 blanking of Wyoming.
As for the Broncos, the winningest team in the FBS since the start of the 2002
campaign with 120 victories, they were in jeopardy of losing for just the
third time at home in the last 59 decisions last week when the BYU Cougars
took Boise State down to the wire during an anemic 7-6 final. The only points
for the Broncos in the decision came on an interception return of 36 yards by
Mike Atkinson, marking the first time that BSU has failed to register an
offensive touchdown at home since joining the ranks of the FBS back in 1996.
"It's the weirdest feeling ever. I'm so ecstatic for that one side, and we
definitely have to go back to the drawing board on the other side," said Boise
State head coach Chris Petersen after his team's enigmatic performance. "But
that's how it goes sometimes - we talk about it all the time. We're a family.
There may be a day where special teams is struggling, and the offense was
tonight. Whatever it is, the other side has got to get it done. And they did
As far as the all-time series is concerned, the Broncos have won all three
previous encounters, including a 45-0 shutout last season.
Boise State's offense showed that the transition from Kellen Moore to someone
else at quarterback was far from an easy one as the Broncos barely slipped by
BYU. Joe Southwick felt the pressure all night long as he completed 15-of-25
passes for just 145 yards, with coach Petersen visibly disgusted with the
signal-caller's game management.
D.J. Harper was able to move the ball for the hosts with his 112 yards on 31
carries, but by no means was it easy at all. In fact, there was one point in
the third quarter when the Broncos recovered a fumble at the one-yard line of
BYU but were stuffed on their four attempts to get into the end zone. Rarely
has BSU been as frustrated on offense as it was versus the Cougars.
Thankfully, the BSU defense made sure to ramp up the intensity for the home
team as they forced turnovers on five straight possessions in order to keep
the Cougars from taking advantage of the ineptitude of the Boise State
"We always talk about getting interceptions - we're going to take it to the
house no matter what," Atkinson set of his game-winning play. "That guy came
up right up beside me and almost got me at the side, but I wasn't going down
Thanks to plays like the one Atkinson made, the Broncos rank second in the
conference and 13th nationally in turnover margin with a plus-1.67 per game,
but at some point the offense is going to have to get into gear. To show just
how different Southwick and this group is from last year's squad, after four
games in 2012 this offense is generating just 355.3 ypg which is 94th in the
country. Last season at this time (three games), the Broncos were 14th in the
nation with 486.0 ypg.
As for the Lobos last weekend, the squad controlled the ball for more than 38
minutes, generating close to 400 yards of offense in order to put themselves
over the top in the annual meeting with New Mexico State. Jhurell Pressley
turned 15 carries into 71 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the visitors,
while Kasey Carrier had his 21 rushing attempts result in a game-high 129
yards and a score as well.
Quarterback B.R. Holbrook converted 11-of-18 passes for just 92 yards, but
more importantly, he didn't make any mistakes throwing the ball that could
have cost his team a victory.
"First and foremost, this is what kind of team we have to be," coach Davie
said of the effort. "There's not a great amount of room for error. This is
what we have to be. We rushed the ball for 300 yards. They rushed the ball for
70 ... Time of possession, whether it's the first half against Texas, whether
it's against Southern or New Mexico State, we have to control time of
Turnovers have certainly been a key factor in the Lobos evening their record
at 2-2, the team placing third in the conference and 24th in the country this
week with a plus-1.0 in turnover margin. However, gaining possession of the
ball has to work hand-in-hand with an offense that is capable of moving it
down the field consistently and the Lobos are still trying to prove that they
have that ability.
Unfortunately, New Mexico ranks last in the FBS in passing efficiency with a
rating of 91.92 and as far as yardage through the air is concerned, the Lobos
are 119th in the country with a mere 60.0 ypg. The rushing offense has much
better numbers on paper, averaging 234.8 ypg to place 21st in the nation, but
don't lose sight of the fact that 649 of their 939 rushing yards have come
against NMSU and Southern, accounting for eight of their nine rushing TDs in
those two outings as well.
Coach Petersen hasn't been named a national coach of the year three times for
nothing. You can be sure he'll have the Broncos back up and running on offense
this weekend, maybe not at top efficiency, but still well enough to score a
significant win over New Mexico on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Boise State 38, New Mexico 10
09/26 10:32:19 ET