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New Mexico vs. Arizona State game preview: Can the Lobos pull off an upset in Tempe?

The Lobos (1-1) will go on the road for the first time this season as they look to bounce back from last week's loss. Do they have a chance this Friday night against an Arizona State team (1-1) that beat them 58-23 last season?

Can Pressley and company run all over the Sun Devils' defense?
Can Pressley and company run all over the Sun Devils' defense?
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The third week of the college football season is underway and with it, the New Mexico Lobos will try to forget their 40-21 loss to the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes. In that game, Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans had a field day against UNM's secondary, throwing for 321 yards and completing 16/30 passes, most of them to Joshua Atkinson (3 catches, 119 yards), Keyarris Garrett (7 catches, 102 yards) and Keevan Lucas (4 receptions, 65 yards).

Tulsa also had two 100-plus yard rushers in Zack Langer and D'Angelo Brewer. In short, Tulsa's offense did what it wanted to do while accumulating 600 yards of total offense. After giving up 74 total yards of offense in the first week to Mississippi Valley State University, the Lobos have their fans asking: Will the real Lobo defense please stand up?

Like the Lobos, Arizona State is 1-1 this season with a Week 1 loss to then No. 17-ranked Texas A&M, 38-17 and a 35-21 win in week two over Cal Poly. They will look to get above .500 for the first time this season.

Sun Devils quarterback Mike Bercovici will test the Lobos defense. In two games this season, he has completed 48 out of 76 passes to the tune of 482 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. He is widely considered one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12 and I expect him to give the Lobos defense trouble. UNM has hope though: Bercovici has already been sacked more times this season (10) than all of last season (9). New Mexico's defensive success will be contingent upon pressuring him, something that they were ineffective at doing last week against Tulsa (Evans was sacked twice). Bercovici has a plethora of offensive threats to get the ball to and head coach Todd Graham has installed a spread offense that executes largely on quick routes.

Of these offensive threats, Lobo fans should keep their eyes on D.J. Foster, a senior wide receiver who already has 12 receptions for 106 yards this season. Moreover, Foster is a double threat having already rushed the ball 15 times for 89 yards.

While Bercovici drives the Sun Devils' offense, Foster has the ability to make a big play nearly every time he touches the ball. Devin Lucien, the recent transfer from UCLA, is another wide receiver who is off to a solid season (9 receptions for 104 yards). ASU will pass, pass, and pass some more and I would be surprised to see the same sort of offensive balance from the Sun Devils that Tulsa accomplished.

On the offensive side, look for coach Bob Davie to continue trying to execute the run, particularly out of the triple option. With Teryion Gipson back in the lineup alongside Jhurrel Pressley and Lamar Jordan, New Mexico's backfield has the opportunity to establish their run game.

However, ASU's defense could prove to be formidable as their entire secondary from last season returns, as well as key contributors such as DL Viliami Latu and LBs Salamo Fiso and Antonio Longino. An up-tempo offense could be key to wearing down the defense and one hopes that wide receiver Dameon Gamblin can build on a great game against Tulsa (8 receptions for 131 yards) this weekend to give New Mexico a shot against ASU.

This game can be viewed on PACN Friday night at 8:00 pm Mountain Time.