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Lobo Pack: New Mexico State Game Preview

Rio Grande Rivalry is back

Houston Baptist v New Mexico Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

What:

New Mexico Lobos vs. New Mexico State Aggies

When:

Saturday September 11th, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time

Where:

University Stadium in Albuquerque, NM

Coverage:

The game can be streamed on Stadium via social media outlets. The radio broadcast will be handled by the Lobo Sports Radio Network. The flagship station in Albuquerque is 770 AM/96.3 FM KKOB.

Series:

The Lobos have the edge in the series at 72-33-3. The Lobos have also won the last two meeting between the two, winning last in 2019 by a final of 55-52.

Breakdown:

It is the resumption of the Rio Grande Rivalry on Saturday when New Mexico State pays a visit to Albuquerque. The two schools did not play a season ago thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lobos come into this one after beating Houston Baptist last week to push their record to 1-0 on the season. New Mexico State started off good against San Diego State last week, but then fell by a final of 28-10 to the Aztecs and come into this one at 0-2.

What to expect from State:

Considering that this is the in-state rivalry that defines bragging rights until basketball season rolls around, one can bet on the Aggies throwing everything that they have at New Mexico.

New Mexico State wants to throw the ball, throw it again and then throw it some more. Quarterback Jonah Johnson threw for 326 yards on 34-of-56 passing with one touchdown but three interceptions. He will look for receivers Terrell Warner and Dominic Gicinto the most. Warner hauled in 10 catches for 79 yards against San Diego State last week, while Gicinto had seven catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.

That might bold well for the Lobos, however, as they were able to slow Houston Baptist’s high flying passing attack last week to just 196 yards.

Keys for the Lobos:

Last Friday, following the Lobos win over Houston Baptist, Albuquerque sports radio show host JJ Buck asked a question about the UNM offense, and that was “should the coaches let Terry Wilson cook?” Meaning, call plays that are tailored to Wilson’s skill set. During the first half of the game against Houston Baptist it appeared as though that was the case, as Wilson threw for three touchdowns. In the second half, however, the play calls seemed more conservative and allowed the Huskies to keep the game close. In this game, it will be necessary to “let Wilson cook,” to put the game out of reach early. The more the Aggies stick around, the more chance that they will have to pull an upset.

To help Wilson out the Lobos will need to establish a running game, something they did not do against Houston Baptist. With Bobby Cole going out in the first half with an injury, the Lobos mustered only 129 yards rushing. The Lobos will need to keep the Aggies defense honest in order to help out Wilson.

Coach Gonzales Thoughts:

“There will be emotions this week,” said Gonzales during his weekly Coaches Show. “We have to keep it under control.”

On New Mexico State: “They’re playing with a different roster now than in the spring. They’ve made significant improvement and are better than they were in 2019.”

Prediction:

The Lobos come into this game as big favorites. At the time of this writing, they are 19-point favorites. That is a big number in favor of a team that only won by 10 over an FCS opponent last week, but I think the betting experts are on the right track. I feel as though the offense will run more smoothly with another week of practice, and the coordinators will let Wilson do his thing. I expect the defense to force some more turnovers in this one, and I see the Lobos coming out of game two with a 2-0 record. I got Lobos-41 Aggies-13.