New Mexico Lobos vs. San Jose State Spartans
Saturday October 14th, 2023, at 4:00 p.m. Mountain Time.
University Stadium in Albuquerque, NM
The game will be streamed online on the Mountain West Network. On the radio waves, the Lobo Sports Radio Network will have the call. The flagship station is 96.3 FM/770 AM KKOB in Albuquerque.
This is the 21st time these two schools will meet on the gridiron. The Spartans own a 14-5-1 edge in the series. The last time these two played, San Jose State won 38-21 back in 2020.
Both New Mexico and San Jose State will be looking to get back into the win column, as they tangle this Saturday evening in Albuquerque in a Mountain West Conference tilt.
The Lobos come into this game off a bye week. Prior to that, they suffered their third loss of the season with a 35-26 defeat at the hands of Wyoming. That has the Lobos sitting at 2-3 on the year and 0-1 in the MWC.
The Spartans are coming off a devastating 35-27 loss to Boise State last Saturday. Devastating from the standpoint that the Spartans raced out to a 27-7 lead over the Broncos before giving up 28 unanswered points in the defeat. That loss drops San Jose State to 1-5 on the season and 0-2 in MWC play.
What to expect from the Spartans:
While the Lobos have relied on a balanced attack this season, the Spartans have leaned to the pass a little more. Averaging 237.8 yards through the air, while going for 130 yards on the ground a game.
Quarterback Chevan Cordeiro will be calling the signals for SJSU. He has thrown six touchdowns to three interceptions this season, but all three interceptions have come in the last three games. He has completed 64% of his passes in conference play, but has no touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Cordeiro will also run the ball. He has 15 carries for 49 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games. In fact, he has had five or more rushes in each game this season. Expect more of the same on Saturday.
Cordeiro will be looking mainly for receiver Nick Nash in this one. Nash has 29 receptions for 333 yards and three touchdowns. He has caught 15 passes for 207 yards in the last three games, including four catches for 99 yards against the Boise State Broncos on Saturday.
Charles Ross will also be a receiver Cordeiro will be looking to. Ross has 11 catches for 111 yards in three road games this season. He had three catches for 28 yards last week.
On the ground, it will be Kairee Robinson leading the way. Robinson has 345 yards on 58 carries with seven touchdowns this season. In two conference games he has 19 carries with 143 yards and three touchdowns. The Lobos will need to key on his big plays out of the backfield.
The Lobos Can Win if:
They can stop the pass and run the ball.
The Lobos give up on average 234 yards through the air. And while they gave up less than that against Wyoming, UNM still gave up a 66-yard touchdown pass. That’s the third time in the last three games that the Lobos have given up a passing touchdown of 65 yards or more. The Lobos cannot give up big plays like that and stay in the game.
On the flip side, the UNM offense should be able to exploit the SJSU run defense. The Spartans allow almost 224 yards rushing per game. Which means Jacory Croskey-Merritt should see a big workload on Saturday. Croskey-Merritt is averaging 6.8 yards per rush this season and will be licking his chops to run on the porous defense of the Spartans.
The Lobos will lose if:
They can stop giving up big plays.
Aside from the big passing plays the Lobos have given up, they have given up big plays on the ground too, but barely any that have gone for scores. Last game out, Wyoming’s running back went for 191 yards on the ground. That kind of productivity kills chances for UNM. It also sets up the passing game, which the Lobos have had a tough time defending this season.
If the Lobos can slow the SJSU running game, and not give up big passing plays, this will fall right into their wheelhouse. If not, then it will be a disappointing night for the cherry and silver faithful.
Final Thoughts and Prediction:
The Lobos have been inconsistent this season, I get that. Which is why I wasn’t surprised when I saw the Spartans favored. What did surprise me was the fact that UNM is an 8-point dog at home to SJSU.
Yes, this is an SJSU team that was up 20 points on Boise State. And some of their defensive numbers are skewed from playing Caleb Williams and USC. However, the Lobos are 2-0 ATS in their last two games and SJSU has given up 21 points or more to each FBS opponent this season. Had this game been SJSU -4, I would’ve said okay. But at -8, and the Lobos offense looking better each week, I’m not only taking the Lobos to cover, but to win outright. Give me Lobos 42-35.