New Mexico State is coming off a surprising victory over its arch rival, the New Mexico Lobos. NMSU is 1-1 on the season and will travel to Lexington with a renewed sense of confidence after its most recent victory and Kentucky’s two-game losing skid. The Wildcats will be in for the fight of their lives in game that nobody predicted to be competitive. Kentucky is favored by 19.
NMSU head coach Doug Martin played quarterback and was a graduate assistant coach under Jerry Claiborne at the University of Kentucky. He’s in his fourth season at New Mexico State. His Aggies were 3-9 a year ago, but beat Idaho, Texas State, and Louisiana to win three consecutive conference games for the first time since 2004. NMSU lost to UTEP 38-22 in the season opener. Below is a statistical analysis of both team’s conference and national rankings.
Ranking New Mexico State in the Sun Belt Conference (11 teams)
Scoring: 6th, 34 points per game (ppg)
Rushing: 7th, 255 yards per game. (ypg)
Passing: 3rd, 172 ypg
Total: 6th, 427 ypg
Scoring: 5th, 27 ppg
Rushing: 7th, 120 ypg
Passing 5th, 205 ypg
Total 9th, 326 ypg
3 BEST PLAYERS
— LB Rodney Butler averages a mind-blowing 19.5 tackles per game. He’s also registered 3.5 tackles for loss.
— LB Terrill Hanks is also highly productive by averaging 13 tackles per game. Hanks leads the team with 4.5 tackles for loss.
— QB Tyler Rogers has rushed for 84 yards. Passing numbers are: 38-76, 411 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs.
Ranking Kentucky in the SEC (14 teams) and nation (128 teams)
Scoring: 14th, 44.5 ppg, national rank-125th
Rushing: 14th, 253 ypg, national-118th
Passing: 12th, 289 ypg, national-106th
Total: 14th, 542 ypg, national-123rd
Scoring Offense: 13th, 21 ppg, national-106th
Rushing: 13th, 95 ypg, national-117th
Passing: 10th, 184 ypg, national-96th
Total: 13th, 279 ypg, national-121st
New Mexico State is a different team with and without RB Larry Rose. Rose rushed for over 1,600 yards a year ago, but missed the Aggies’ first two games. His return would have a significant impact on Saturday’s game as UK has yet to slow-stop-interfere in its first two opponents’ rushing attack.
A month ago, the majority of media and fans considered this matchup as a certain win and a gap-game sandwiched in-between Florida and South Carolina. Starting in the third quarter against Southern Miss and running through sixty minutes of tomfoolery in the Swamp, this game has changed its course in terms of predictability. 19 point spread or not, from what I’ve seen so far in 2016, the Cats will have their hands full with Doug Martin’s Aggies.