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Lobo Pack: Fresno State Preview

A trip to Cali

UNLV v New Mexico Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

What:

New Mexico Lobos vs. Fresno State Bulldogs

Where:

Bulldog Stadium in Fresno, CA

When:

Saturday November 13th, 2021, at 5:00 pm Mountain Time

Coverage:

The game will be streamed on Stadium and on the radio side it will be the Lobo Sports Radio Network. If you are in Albuquerque, the Lobo Sports Radio Network can be found at 770 AM/96.3 FM KKOB.

Series:

Fresno State leads the series with a 13-5 record. Last season the Lobos pulled off a 49-39 upset during the final week of the season.

Breakdown:

The New Mexico Lobos will look to keep their slim postseason hopes alive when they pay a visit to the Fresno State Bulldogs on Saturday night.

The Lobos come into the contest with a record of 3-6, 1-4 in the Mountain West Conference, needing to win each of their final three contests in order to become bowl eligible.

Last week UNM fell at home to the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels by a final of 31-17. In that game quarterback Isaiah Chavez left with an ankle injury. The Lobos also committed three turnovers in the loss.

Fresno State, meantime, is in the thick of the MWC Championship hunt. The Bulldogs enter this contest with a record of 7-3 and 4-2 in the MWC. Fresno State is just a ½ game behind Nevada and San Diego State in the West Division of the MWC.

Last week Fresno State was dominated by Boise State on the Bulldogs’ home field, losing by a final of 40-14.

Fresno State has just two games remaining. If they win out, they will also need just one loss by San Diego State and Nevada to make the MWC Championship Game as they have the tiebreaker over both.

Who will be the QB for UNM:

With Chavez being injured last week, there is some questions once again about who the starter will be this weekend for UNM.

The answer to that question appears to be Chavez himself.

Former starter Terry Wilson appears to be done for the season after suffering a dislocated elbow against San Diego State earlier in the season.

With Chavez’s ankle injury keeping him out of much of the UNLV tilt, it appeared as though maybe the Lobos would have to turn to CJ Montes to be the starter. Head Coach Danny Gonzales put that to rest this week during his weekly media availability.

“He will be fine for Saturday,” Gonzales said of Chavez. “He was able to move around. We limited his reps, so the swelling won’t continue.”

What the Lobos do on offense:

With Chavez being somewhat banged up, the Lobos could rely more on the running backs and short passing game a little more this week to keep Chavez from having to take so many hits.

Fresno State allows 130 rushing yards per game on the season. Over the last two games, the Bulldogs have allowed an average of 176 yards on the ground.

That bodes well for a Lobo team that will look to run the football a lot more this weekend.

What will Fresno State do:

This seems as though it is setting up as a perfect storm that the Lobos are walking into.

For starters, Fresno State will no doubt be looking to right the ship after last week’s dismal performance against Boise State. On top of that, it is senior night for Fresno State, so their will be a lot of emotion in the building as this class tries to go out as winners and avenge last season’s loss to UNM. Oh, and we haven’t even gotten to how the Bulldogs’ offense is one of the best in the MWC.

Fresno State will throw the ball a ton in this game. The Bulldogs are averaging 331 passing yards per game this season. There have been just four games where FSU hasn’t passed for more than 300 yards, and just one game where they haven’t thrown for at least 250 yards. Pass defense will be key for UNM to stay in this one.

Quarterback Jake Haener will lead the way in the passing attack. Haener was 22-of-38 for 279 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions in the loss last week to Boise State. So, he will be looking to do better in this one.

Haener will have many reliable receivers in this one. Jalen Cropper leads the way for the Bulldogs in receiving. Cropper has 710 yards on 64 catches with 10 touchdowns. His yardage is good enough for fifth in the MWC.

Josh Kelly is the second leading receiver for Fresno State, he has 10 combined catches in the past two weeks, going for 283 yards with those catches. And Lobo fans might also hear the name Keric Wheatfall, who has five or more catches in each of the last three games.

In the running game, Fresno State will lean on Ronnie Rivers. Rivers has only gone for over 100 yards once this season but is also an effective pass catcher out of the backfield. The Lobos will need to keep an eye on number 20 in red in this one.

Final Thoughts and Prediction:

As said earlier, the Lobos are walking into a perfect storm in this one. Fresno State wants to keep their MWC Championship Game hopes alive, it is senior night, and they are looking to get back at the Lobos for last season’s defeat.

This one could get ugly early. The key for UNM in this one will be to remain healthy. New Mexico has a ton of youth playing right now and Coach Gonzales is looking to get them experience running their game plan.

The thing Lobo fans should look for in this game will be growth over the final score. The more growth that we see, the better the future will be in Albuquerque with UNM football.

That being said, I like Fresno State in this one. I got Bulldogs-42 Lobos-17.