When we last touched based with New Mexico State, the Aggies were fresh off of a season-opening win over Sacramento State. Why was that win noteworthy? Looking back, it was only the program’s sixth season-opening victory since 1980: 1981, 1992, 1995, 1999, 2006 and 2007. That win looked even better come Saturday evening, after Sacramento State handed Colorado a 30-28 defeat. So a feel-good win felt even better a week later, even if that feeling was tempered by New Mexico State’s first loss on the year, a 51-24 decision at Ohio.
Let’s catch up with the Aggies. First, the season already in the books:
Aug. 30 Sacramento State (W, 49-19) – 1-0, 0-0
Sept. 8 at Ohio (L, 51-24) – 1-1, 0-0
Against an F.C.S. team, the Aggies’ inability to move the football on the ground isn’t a huge concern. With Andrew Manley under center, slinging to a receiver like Austin Franklin – who’s been terrific thus far – the Aggies will be able to rely solely on the passing game to beat the weaker teams on their schedule.
A more complete effort will be needed against the cream of the crop, as we saw on Saturday. The Bobcats knew that N.M.S.U. has line issues; this allowed Frank Solich and his staff to make a run at Manley, limiting the sophomore to 132 yards on 12 completions. In the opener, Manley connected on 14 of 22 attempts for 367 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Looking ahead, the Aggies’ running game needs to find its legs. Against Sacramento State, N.M.S.U. gained 101 yards on 40 carries, scoring four times; against the Bobcats, N.M.S.U. tumbled even further, gaining 71 yards on 30 carries.
And this doesn’t even touch on the defense, which has been terrible. The Aggies allowed 584 yards of total offense against Ohio, with 293 yards coming on the ground – the Bobcats’ third-highest single-game total since 2007. The Aggies have two sacks through two games, though the front seven has done a nice job overall in getting pressure in the backfield.
Sept. 15 at UTEP
It’s hard to get a read on the Miners. Two weeks ago, UTEP gave Oklahoma a scare in a 24-7 loss. Last Saturday, UTEP looked inept against Mississippi, which wasn’t a good sign. For N.M.S.U., this is the first of four must-have games heading into the second half, when the schedule takes a turn for the worse.
Sept. 22 New Mexico
Sept. 29 Texas-San Antonio
Oct. 6 at Idaho
Oct. 20 at Utah State
Oct. 27 Louisiana Tech
Nov. 3 at Auburn
Nov. 10 San Jose State
Nov. 24 B.Y.U.
Dec. 1 at Texas State