San Jose State (7-2) at New Mexico State (1-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 10, 3:30 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Aggie Memorial Stadium (30,343) -- Las Cruces, New Mexico. Television: AggieVision. Home Record: SJSU 3-1, NMSU 1-3. Away Record: SJSU 4-2, NMSU 0-5. Neutral Record: SJSU 0-0, NMSU 0-0. Conference Record: SJSU 3-1, NMSU 0-4. Series Record: San Jose State leads, 16-3.
GAME NOTES: Still searching for their first Western Athletic Conference win of the season, the New Mexico State Aggies entertain the San Jose State Spartans in league play this weekend in Las Cruces.
Not only have the Aggies dropped eight straight contests, which means they are tied for the second-longest skid in the nation behind a winless Southern Miss program, but they have not defeated another school from the Football Bowl Subdivision since taking out Fresno State by a scant three points (48-45) back on Nov. 12 of last year.
Last weekend, the team took a break from the WAC grind for a meeting with Auburn, another team that has struggled in a big way this season. But somehow the Tigers managed to dial up the pressure on both sides of the ball as they claimed a 42-7 home win for just their second overall victory of the season.
In the case of the Spartans, since losing to conference-leading Utah State (49-27) last month the team has rattled off three straight wins in order to move not only to 3-1 in conference but also to seven wins overall in order to become bowl eligible. Last Saturday, SJSU blew the doors off an overmatched Idaho squad at the Kibbie Dome, 42-13, for their seventh win in eight tries.
San Jose State has won 16 of the previous 19 matchups between these two squads, including a 34-24 victory at home last season.
Head coach Mike MacIntyre is finally seeing his patience pay off with the Spartans as his team survived just 4-of-13 on third down and came up with a decisive win on the road in conference play against Idaho. David Fales led the attack as he completed 27-of-39 passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns as he was named the WAC Offensive Player of the Week.
Noel Grigsby did his part for SJSU with six catches for 88 yards and two scores, while De'Leon Eskridge tried to provide the squad with some semblance of a rushing attack as he recorded 47 yards and a score on 16 attempts, but still the Spartans finished with only 85 yards on 29 attempts.
Clearly the Spartans are far from a team that relies heavily on running the ball. The team is 111th in the country in that department through 10 weeks of action with only 109.6 ypg over nine outings. Instead, it is Fales who is shouldering most of the load and doing so with relative ease. In fact, Fales is responsible for more than 300 ypg in total offense and has the best completion percentage in the country right now (.727).
Not to be overlooked is a San Jose State defense which is allowing just 21.4 ppg (second in the conference and 29th nationally) while delivering 3.56 sacks per game to rank fourth in the country. Stopping opponents in the backfield is also a top priority for the team as they log 7.3 TFLs per game (15th in the nation).
Those last few numbers for the Spartans could easily be exceeded this weekend given the trouble that the NMSU offensive line has had this season. Through nine games the Aggies have permitted 3.2 sacks per game which is the highest among the WAC teams tracked by the NCAA and 112th in the country overall.
Obviously the Aggies have issues in the trenches which is also why the team has delivered only 94.6 ypg rushing (114th) and less than 19.5 ppg (108th). If the Aggies thought they might be saved by their defense they couldn't be more wrong. The group is allowing foes to generate 208.0 ypg on the ground and another 254.4 ypg through the air which equates to 462.4 ypg overall and ranks the team 105th in the nation.
Against Auburn, a national champion from a few years back that has fallen on hard times, the NMSU defense allowed a pair of runners to gain more than 100 yards and the Tigers as a group to come up with 311 yards and four touchdowns.
Andrew Manley tried to counter for the NMSU offense as he completed 17-of-30 passes for 222 yards, but he was sacked four times and that brought the program's run total down to just 83 yards on 32 attempts. Manley has done what he can with the personnel he's been given, throwing for more than 250 ypg and a total of 14 touchdowns, but he's also been picked off eight times.
Giving Manley his best option down the field is Austin Franklin who is third in the country in receiving yards per game with 124.3 and has ended up in the end zone nine times, but you can be sure the Spartans already have him on their radar as they dial up their defensive schemes.
Right now there are few quarterbacks who are as dialed-in as Fales is with the Spartans and that's bad news for New Mexico State this weekend, even with the Aggies playing at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: San Jose State 38, New Mexico State 14
11/07 10:38:37 ET