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Lobo Pack: Fresno State Preview

The end to 2020

NCAA Football: New Mexico at San Jose State Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

What:

New Mexico Lobos vs. Fresno State Bulldogs

When:

Saturday December 12th, 2020 at 8:30 p.m. MT

Where:

Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, NV (Lobos home game)

Coverage:

Game will be televised on Fox Sports 1. On the radio side, the game will be on the Lobo Sports Radio Network, Lobo Sports App, 96.3 FM/770 AM KKOB in Albuquerque.

Series:

Fresno State leads the series 13-4. The Bulldogs have won the last seven games between the two schools.

Breakdown:

The New Mexico Lobos will finish up their 2020 season on Saturday when they take on the Fresno State Bulldogs in a contest that can be seen on Fox Sports 1.

Last week, New Mexico notched its first win of the season, and broke a 14-game losing streak in the process, with a 17-16 win over Wyoming.

Fresno State had their three-game winning streak snapped last week, losing to Nevada, 37-26. The Bulldogs enter the game at 3-2 on the season.

It was 1994 the last time the New Mexico Lobos beat Fresno State on the football field. None of the current Lobo players were born yet, and Dennis Franchione was roaming the sidelines for UNM.

What to expect from Fresno State:

The Bulldogs love to sling it around the field. They are fifth in the country, averaging 357.6 yards per game through the air. Given the fact that the Lobos give up a ton of yards through the air a game, it could be a huge night again for FSU.

Quarterback Jake Haener has been on fire the last two games. He threw for 422 yards against Utah State on November 14th. Against Nevada last week, Haener tossed the ball for 485 yards.

Haener has a ton of targets that he likes to get the ball to. Leading the way is Jalen Cropper, who has 25 catches on the season for 386 yards and four touchdowns. Cropper had seven catches for 107 yards against Nevada but had 10 catches for 202 yards and three touchdowns against Utah State.

Receiver Keric Wheatfall is also a threat. He has 23 catches on the season with 363 yards and one touchdown. He was tough to handle for Nevada, as he went for six catches for 113 yards and a touchdown.

And we would be remised if we didn’t mention running back Ronnie Rivers, who is a threat running and catching. He leads the team in receptions with 27 and has 508 yards rushing with seven touchdowns on the season. Rivers will be the centerpiece of the offense for the Bulldogs.

X-Factor for the Lobos:

This will sound like a broken record, but the x-factor for the Lobos today will be the secondary.

Given how many yards that the Lobos give up passing on the season, and Fresno State’s ability to pass, it will be critical for UNM to slow down the passing attack in order to stay in this game.

Quarterbacking situation:

The Lobos are down to their fifth quarterback for tonight’s game in Isaiah Chavez.

Chavez replaced Connor Genal last week against Wyoming, after the latter left with a broken wrist. Genal had replaced Trae Hall who was injured against Utah State, who replaced Tevaka Tuioti who was injured against Hawai’i. Brandt Hughes was injured during practice prior to the season.

Chavez was 5-for-10 for 55 yards and a touchdown against Wyoming last week. Running back Bryson Carroll will serve as the backup to Chavez. Carroll was a quarterback in high school.

Prediction:

It was good to see that my reverse psychology worked for the Lobos last week. This week will be about 100 times tougher. Wyoming was missing both its starting quarterback and running back last week. No such luck this week for UNM.

With the Bulldogs ability to toss it around, I expect it will be a long night to end the 2020 season for New Mexico. I got Fresno State-45 Lobos-21.