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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 6, 5:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Kibbie Dome (16,000) -- Moscow, Idaho. Television: KTRV, Altitude. Home Record: NMSU 1-2, Idaho 0-2. Away Record: NMSU 0-2, Idaho 0-3. Neutral Record: NMSU 0-0, Idaho 0-0. Conference Record: NMSU 0-1, Idaho 0-1. Series Record: Idaho leads, 13-5.
GAME NOTES: A pair of Western Athletic Conference cellar-dwellars square off at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow on Saturday, as the Idaho Vandals play host to the New Mexico State Aggies.
Since winning its opener against Sacramento State (49-19), NMSU has dropped four games in a row, including last week in its WAC opener at home against FBS newcomer Texas-San Antonio, 35-14. The Aggies are now losers of 10 of their last 12 games dating back to the 2011 campaign.
Idaho is the lone team in the WAC that sits behind NMSU in the standings as it remains winless in five tries. The Vandals' low point came last Saturday when they were shut out by North Carolina, 66-0. They will try for their first win since defeating San Jose State on Nov. 5, 2011.
In the all-time series between these two teams, Idaho has a 13-5 advantage, although NMSU won last year's matchup at home. 31-24. Ten of the 18 games have been decided by a touchdown or less.
The NMSU offense (25.8 ppg) has been below average on the season, especially on the ground (87.2 ypg).
Germi Morrison leads a lackluster rushing attack with 197 yards on 40 carries, while Tiger Powell (46 carries, 129 yards) gets most of the work around the goal line, punching in four touchdowns.
Quarterback Andrew Manley has piled up plenty of yardage, (1,321 yards, 10 TDs), but he hasn't been very efficient with his work, completing fewer than 54 percent of his passes while tossing four interceptions. He has also been sacked 19 times for a combined loss of 83 yards.
Austin Franklin is the best playmaker on offense, as he has already racked up 627 receiving yards -- third most in the country. He also leads the team with 33 catches and seven touchdowns. Kemonte' Bateman benefits from opposing defenses keying on Franklin, piling up 329 yards on 25 catches himself.
While the offense has been disappointing, the Aggies' defense has been downright terrible, surrendering nearly 35 ppg and more than 450 ypg. The unit has registered just five sacks and five takeaways in five games.
Davis Cazares (48 tackles) and Trashaun Nixon (43 tackles, four TFL) are among the WAC leaders in total stops.
While NMSU has had its share of struggles, very few offenses have been worse than Idaho's this season (13.4 ppg, 312.2 ypg), and the team is coming off its worst performance of the year in a 189-yard, zero-point effort against UNC.
Dominique Blackman has looked impressive at times under center, completing nearly 69 percent of his passes for 961 yards and six touchdowns, but his Achilles' heel has been turnovers as he has already thrown nine interceptions.
Najee Lovett, Jahrie Level and Mike Scott have been an effective trio of receivers, with each hauling in at least 21 balls and at least 222 yards, although Lovett is the only player with a pair of touchdown catches.
The Vandals are also underwhelming in the running game, averaging just 3.1 yards per carry as a team. Ryan Bass (230 yards) and James Baker (158 yards) garner the most work, but neither has scored a touchdown to this point.
Idaho's defense has not been able to stop anyone, giving up 42 ppg while allowing its opponents 29 trips to the red zone.
Gary Walker has a team-leading 38 tackles and returned an interception 94 yards for a touchdown earlier this season. Solomon Dixon has a pair of picks, and Benson Mayowa and Quayshawne Buckley have recorded three sacks apiece.
In a battle between two under-performing teams, this matchup is sure to be ugly with a lot of mistakes dictating the pace of the game. On paper, NMSU appears to have stronger playmakers, but with only three home games remaining on their schedule, the Vandals are desperate for a win. If Idaho doesn't win this one, they could be shut out the rest of the way.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Idaho 20, New Mexico State 19
10/03 10:37:18 ET
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