News surrounding BYU this week focused on their possible attempt to rejoin the Mountain West Conference. In the meantime, though, the Cougars have to face New Mexico State this Saturday.
It's a game that won't exactly appeal to the casual college football fan. Neither the Aggies (1-9, 0-5 WAC) nor the Cougars (6-5) have much to play for. However, games can often be the most fun when nothing's on the line.
And don't be fooled by BYU's record, though. The Cougars are a very good football team. Three of their losses came against ranked teams. They're heavy favorites for this one, and considering their loss last week to San Jose State, they'll be very motivated to win their last regular season game.
Here's a preview of this Saturday's matchup.
Where: Aggie Memorial Stadium, Las Cruces, N.M.
When: Saturday, Nov. 24, 3:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Betting Line: BYU -29 (via ScoresandOdds.com)
What's at Stake?
There's almost nothing but pride on the line for the Aggies. They've lost their last nine games after winning the season opener against Sacramento State. If anything, they'll be looking to get out of ESPN's Bottom 10 rankings.
On the other side, win or lose, BYU's bowl future as already been decided, with the Cougars accepting a bid to the Poinsettia Bowl. With the win, BYU will finish the season with a winning record no matter the result of the bowl game. That's something Bronco Mendenhall will be getting across to his players.
OL Brock Stringham - Illness - Questionable
DB Mike Hague - Calf - Out
DB Skye PoVey - Foot - Out
DL Eathyn Manumaleuna - Knee - Out
TE Marcus Mathews - Nose - Out
RB Michael Alisa - Forearm - Out
DL Ian Dulan - Back - Out
New Mexico State
WR Kevan Walker - Knee - Questionable
BYU Player to Watch: Jamaal Williams, RB
Jamaal Williams has steadily improved over the course of the year.
He hasn't put up gaudy numbers, but his numbers are more impressive when you consider how little he featured in the offense at the start of the season. The freshman has eclipsed the 100-yard mark three times in 2012.
New Mexico State is coming in with the 103rd-worst rushing defense in the nation, according to the NCAA, giving up a little over 207 yards a game. Williams could get 150-plus yards on the ground for the second time this year.
New Mexico State Players to Watch: Travaughn Colwell and Andrew Manley, QB
Andrew Manley and Travaughn Colwell shared snaps in the Aggies' loss to San Jose State a few weeks ago. The same may be the case this weekend. Colwell performed better, but Manley has been the starter the entire season.
The Cougars have the fourth-best rushing defense in the nation, according the NCAA, so it's unlikely New Mexico State will get anything going on the ground.
Key Matchup: New Mexico State passing offense vs. BYU passing defense
As state above, the Cougars are great against the run, so it's a lost cause for the Aggies to try and run the ball. The only chance they have is if either Colwell or Manley, or a combination of the two can have a steady game without any mistakes.
Two of the keys to upsets is avoiding turnovers and countering better teams with big plays. Sophomore Austin Franklin has the ability to change the game for the Aggies, averaging 17 yards a catch. But he won't be effective if he can't get the ball.
Prediction: BYU 45, New Mexico State 7
There's almost no chance that the Aggies can win this one. They're looking at the horrible matchup of a below-average offense going against a great defense.
BYU doesn't score a ton of points, so it's unlikely they'll put up a basketball score in this one. Still, New Mexico State is giving up a little over 35 points a game, so the Cougars will score.
It will be a colossal upset if the Aggies pull out the victory.