Louisiana-Lafayette at New Mexico State prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins the game between the Ragin’ Cajuns and Aggies.
Louisiana-Lafayette vs. New Mexico State Game Preview
When: Saturday, October 1 – 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, NM
After a rare wobble in Lafayette a year ago, sixth-year Ragin’ Cajun head coach Mark Hudspeth wants to bounce back in 2016. His team split the first four games, capped by a crushing four-overtime loss to Tulane Saturday, so this trip to La Cruces is a critical one for the team’s direction. New Mexico State, meanwhile, is trying to prevent another season from slowly circling the drain. After defeating rival New Mexico in Week 2 and battling Kentucky for a half, the Aggies have been outscored 79-13 over the last six quarters. If they can’t stop the slide here, reaching that elusive first bowl game since 1960 becomes increasingly unlikely.
What To Know About Louisiana-Lafayette
The Cajuns are an experienced team, with a backfield boasting as much potential as any in the Sun Belt Conference. Running back Elijah McGuire is the frontman in Lafayette, rushing for 497 yards and three scores through four games. He’s joined by LSU transfer quarterback Anthony Jennings, who’s making the most of his second chance by accounting for nine touchdowns so far. The defense, spearheaded by linebackers Otha Peters and Tre’maine Lightfoot, like to press the tempo and currently lead the Sun Belt with 34 stops for loss and 11 sacks.
What To Know About New Mexico State
Larry Rose III made his 2016 debut on Saturday. And while he only rushed for 56 yards on a dozen carries, the healthy return of a back who rushed for 1,651 yards in 2015 is cause for optimism in Las Cruces. Fingers are crossed that Rose in the backfield will help with the development and consistency of quarterback Tyler Rogers who’s thrown seven picks the last two games. The offense will have to click for New Mexico State to survive, because the defense is among the most generous in the FBS, giving up nearly 46 points per game.
Offense: Louisiana-Lafayette. Rose’s return certainly helps, but the Cajuns have a tougher O-line and more potential behind center.
Defense: Louisiana-Lafayette. The ability to attack the pocket is this unit’s calling card.
Special Teams: Louisiana-Lafayette. It’s close, though the edge goes to Cajun punter Steven Coutts and placekicker Stevie Artigue, who’s been more accurate in his second year.
Coaching: Louisiana-Lafayette. While there have been some ups-and-downs, Hudspeth is still one of the Sun Belt’s top coaches.
Intangibles: New Mexico State. The Aggies are back home after two long and difficult road trips, and Rose will be itching to shake off more rust.
Matchup To Watch
The Louisiana-Lafayette front seven vs. the New Mexico State O-line
The Cajuns lead the Sun Belt in sacks, led by rookie linebackers Trev Miller and Joe Dillon. The Aggies are shaky and heavy-legged in the trenches. If Louisiana-Lafayette succeeds in getting in Rogers’ face, he’s going to force throws that a ball-hawking can turn into picks.
Louisiana-Lafayette at New Mexico State Betting Odds
Spread: Louisiana-Lafayette -6.5
Louisiana-Lafayette vs. New Mexico State Prediction
McGuire and Rose on the same field makes for an interesting matchup of elite Group of Five backs. Both will flourish, but the Cajuns will enjoy a distinct advantage at quarterback with Jennings and on the defensive side of the ledger. Jennings will outplay Rogers, whose propensity for making mistakes will be exacerbated by a defense that likes to pin its ears back and collapse the pocket. Both teams are capable of piling up gaudy offensive numbers Saturday in Las Cruces.
Louisiana-Lafayette vs. New Mexico State Score Prediction: Louisiana-Lafayette 42, New Mexico State 34