New Mexico State (1-7) at Auburn (1-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 3, 12:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451) -- Auburn, Alabama. Television: CSS. Home Record: NMSU 1-3, Auburn 1-3. Away Record: NMSU 0-4, Auburn 0-3. Neutral Record: NMSU 0-0, Auburn 0-1. Conference Record: NMSU 0-4, Auburn 0-6. Series Record: Auburn leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: Two of the worst teams in the FBS will step out of conference play on Saturday afternoon, as the Auburn Tigers play host to the New Mexico State Aggies.
NMSU kicked off its season with a 49-19 win over FCS foe Sacramento State, but since then it has lost seven in a row, with all but one coming by double digits. The Aggies hung tough with nationally-ranked Louisiana Tech at home before losing last week, 28-14. They've now lost six consecutive games against Western Athletic Conference foes dating back to last season.
At 1-7 overall, Auburn is off to its worst start since 1952. The Tigers' nightmare season hit a new low in last week's blowout loss to Texas A&M, 63-21. They are now 0-6 in the SEC, and they haven't won a conference game in more than a calendar year, the last coming against Ole Miss on Oct. 29, 2011.
The Tigers and Aggies have faced each other just twice before, with Auburn winning both times.
The NMSU offense (21.0 ppg, 361.6 ypg) has failed to score more than 18 points in its last five games.
The team constantly plays from behind and needs to throw the ball to catch up, meaning Andrew Manley has put together a solid season, throwing for more than 260 yards per game with 14 touchdown passes. However, with the increased work load has come some efficiency problems, as he has completed fewer than 55 percent of his passes and has thrown eight interceptions.
In the receiving game, Austin Franklin has shined in his sophomore season. The 6-2 wideout has caught 57 balls for 965 yards, which ranks behind only Marqise Lee of USC and Terrance Williams of Baylor nationally. He's also tied for seventh in the country with nine touchdown receptions. After gaining 139 yards against Louisiana Tech last week, he now has at least 72 yards in every game this season and 100-plus in six contents.
The rushing attack, on the other hand, has not been as effective as the team averages less than 100 yards per game on the ground. Germi Morrison (91 carries, 451 yards, TD) has been the Aggies' most effective runner.
The defense (33.5 ppg, 460.9 ypg) has been porous, but it is coming off a very impressive performance against Louisiana Tech. Although the numbers may not suggest dominance (28 points, 530 yards), considering the Bulldogs are second in the nation is scoring offense (52.6 ppg), it was a job well done.
Davis Cazares is among the WAC's leaders in tackles with 83, and Trashaun Nixon has made plays all over the field with 66 stops, eight tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. The team only has eight sacks in eight games, with three being credited to Donte Savage.
Horrendous play from the quarterback position has caused Auburn's offense to rank last in the SEC in both scoring (16.4 ppg) and yardage (284 ypg), but it was granted a glimmer of hope late in the recent loss to Texas A&M.
Freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace played much of the second half last week, and even though the game was well out of reach, he performed well by completing 6-of-9 passes for 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Head coach Gene Chizik has yet to decide who will start against NMSU, but considering the play of Kiehl Frazier (.544 completion percentage, 125.5 ypg, two TDs, eight INTs) and Clint Moseley (.633, 93.2 ypg, one TD, three INTs), the Tigers would appear to have nothing to lose by going with the youngster.
Emory Blake has been the only consistent force in the receiving game, leading the team in catches (35), yards (531) and touchdowns (three). He has seven career 100-yard games and is fifth in school history with 16 TD receptions.
The running back duo of Tre Mason (105 carries, 554 yards, five TDs) and Onterio McCalebb (66 carries, 340 yards, two TDs) has been effective, but much like NMSU, Auburn is unable to establish the run as much when it is losing early in games.
The defense (29.9 ppg, 444.1 ypg) has also been terrible, especially by lofty SEC standards, and the 63 points allowed to Texas A&M last week was the most in program history.
Daren Bates (80 tackles, 5.5 TFL, two sacks, INT, FR) is putting together an All-SEC type of year. While Corey Lemonier is on pace to fall short of last season's career-high 9.5 sacks, he has still been a solid pass-rusher with five sacks and eight QB hurries.
While Auburn never appeared to be a team likely to vie for the SEC title, few anticipated that it would have just one win this far into the season. There are plenty of issues the Tigers need to address on both sides of the ball, but it still has much more talent than does NMSU, and after getting embarrassed at home last week, expect AU to redeem itself in front of the home crowd.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Auburn 28, New Mexico State 20
10/31 10:42:40 ET