A couple of teams at opposite ends of the
spectrum in the Western Athletic Conference get together in Las Cruces this
weekend, as the slumping New Mexico State Aggies take on the 24th-ranked
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
A member of the national rankings for the second time this season, the
Bulldogs have turned themselves into one of the most electrifying offensive
powers in the nation. In fact, the team leads the country in scoring with 56.1
ppg thanks to a 70-28 thrashing of Idaho in conference play at home last
weekend. The victory was the sixth in seven tries for LaTech, the lone loss
being a heart-breaking 59-57 setback to Texas A&M that came down to the wire
earlier this month.
The defending WAC champions from 2011 when they delivered six wins in seven
tries, the Bulldogs are no strangers to the postseason, although they did fall
to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl, 31-24, following a successful campaign last
As for the Aggies, they haven't had nearly as much excitement during the first
half of the 2012 campaign, although they did manage to open the season with a
49-19 pounding of Sacramento State. Nevertheless, NMSU enters play this week
tied for the second-longest losing streak in the nation at six games following
a 41-7 setback versus Utah State on the road in conference play last weekend.
The Aggies have now dropped eight straight road dates and have not won a game
against another member of the Football Bowl Subdivision since taking down
Fresno State, 48-45, at home on Nov. 12, 2011.
Louisiana Tech has posted seven wins in 11 all-time meetings with the Aggies,
and that includes a 44-0 romp in the most recent meeting last season. The
Bulldogs have won five in a row in the series, but that doesn't mean that
LaTech head coach Sonny Dykes isn't preparing for a challenge on the road.
"They (the Aggies) have lost a couple of tough games this year. Their record
is probably not where they think it could be or where it definitely could be
based on them losing a couple of tough ones. Anyway, they are a good football
team and I know it is their homecoming and they will be excited to play
Obviously coach Dykes said all the right things during his weekly press
conference on Monday, but it is clear that the Bulldogs have a much superior
team, particularly on offense.
Last week it was running back Kenneth Dixon who stole the show in the monster
beating of Idaho, running for 232 yards and a staggering six touchdowns.
Setting a new school record for rushing TDs in a single game which had stood
for 36 years, Dixon now has 16 rushing touchdowns on the season overall, with
15 of those coming in home bouts. Already owning the school's rookie record
for rushing touchdowns, one has to wonder what would have happened had fellow
running back Tevin King not gotten injured and was still a featured back in
"That is what has been impressive about Kenneth is his maturity and how he has
taken everything in stride," notes coach Dykes. "He really likes to play
football and really works hard every day. He is just a good, good kid to be
around and competitive. He has a real bright future."
Just as incredible has been the play of quarterback Colby Cameron who, against
the Vandals, completed 29-of-37 passes for 400 yards and a couple of
touchdowns. If its not Dixon and the running attack, one that produced a
whopping 408 yards and eight scores versus Idaho, the Bulldogs always have
Cameron to fall back on.
At this stage, Cameron is completing 71.3 percent of his pass attempts for
329.4 ypg and has 20 touchdowns without a single interception, one of only two
starters in the FBS still without a pick.
With Cameron and Dixon chewing up opposing defenses, a guy like Quinton
Patton, considered one of the most explosive players in the WAC heading into
2012, has become almost an afterthought. Nevertheless, Patton is still the
main target for Cameron with his 59 catches for 806 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Needless to say, the Aggies are going to have their hands full, trying to pick
their poison when attempting to defend Louisiana Tech this weekend. Last time
out NMSU was touched for 41 points by Utah State and those Aggies aren't
nearly as dangerous as Tech right now. USU was allowed to generate an
impressive 516 yards of offense, averaging better than eight yards per snap,
which is rather strong, but that isn't even in the same ballpark with what
Louisiana Tech turned in against Idaho.
The Bulldogs did it on the ground and through the air as they produced a
staggering 839 yards, the highest single-game total for any team in the FBS
Through seven games, New Mexico State ranks 100th in the country in total
defense with 451.7 ypg allowed and the points being scored by the competition
is averaging out to be 34.3 ppg which is also 100th in the nation at the
moment. Add to that a turnover margin that is minus-1.0 per game (103rd) and
the Aggies are bound to give the LaTech offense countless chances to run up
As coach Dykes mentioned, the NMSU offense does have a few weapons in
quarterback Andrew Manley and receiver Austin Franklin, the latter ranking
second in the conference and 11th in the nation in receptions per game with
7.14, but that only works when Manley isn't under pressure.
Unfortunately for the signal-caller, his offense is also 113th in the country
in sacks allowed with 3.43 per game and that's no way to keep an offense
moving in the right direction.
©2012 Sports Network. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.